The Big 12 Conference has been one of, if not the, toughest conferences in all of college basketball. A true testament is who the number one seed Kansas Jayhawks will most likely have to face in the quarterfinals.
If they put away the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first round, the Oklahoma State Cowboys will match up against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round. The same Oklahoma State squad that was ranked in the top 5 nationally at one point of the season. The same Oklahoma State team that beat the Jayhawks just a week ago.
Thanks to an inexplicable 7-game losing streak in mid season, the Cowboys finished 8th in the Big 12 with an 8-10 record. This is the same team many thought could beat out the Kansas Jayhawks for the conference regular season championship before the season started.
This is also a team that features a player in Marcus Smart who was considered a candidate for National Player of the Year before he melting down a month ago.
You will be hard pressed to find a top seed in any conference tournament with a tougher match up, not only this season, but ever.
Things won’t be any easier for the Kansas State Wildcats, who draw the 16th ranked Iowa State Cyclones. The Wildcats finished the regular season with 20 wins, and a 10-8 Big 12 record, good for 5th.
The Wildcats and the Cyclones split the season match ups, both winning at home, which was sort of a theme around the conference this season. Both games were offensive battles that were close throughout. Iowa State won in Ames, 81-75, while Kansas State won in Manhattan, 80-73.
This game will hinge on how hot the Cyclones get from 3-point range, or if the Wildcats can keep Marcus Foster playing as well as he has been.
How Kansas State plays on a neutral court will be a factor as well. The Wildcats have been a completely different team, a much worse team, away from home.
The quarterfinal match up will take place in the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Thursday. The Jayhawks will play the early game and the Wildcats will see action in the third game of the day.
Whoever wins the 2014 Big 12 Conference Tournament, whether it is the Kansas Jayhawks, the Kansas State Wildcats, or another team, they will be tested fully on the court. The Big 12 has been crazy all season; why should the post season tournament be any different?