The Baylor Bears begin their tournament life Thursday night against Kansas State

The 2017 Big 12 basketball tournament kicks off Wednesday night with the bottom-4 teams playing. The real fun starts for the Baylor Bears Thursday night at 8pm against Kansas State.

The 2017 Big 12 men's basketball tournament kicks off Wednesday evening with TCU vs. Oklahoma and Texas Tech vs. Texas.  It if the bottom four teams in the standings, before the real fun starts Thursday. 

For the Bears, the waiting will take the longest as their game is the 8pm game Thursday night against the 6th seeded Kansas State Wildcats.  Baylor, the third seed, avoided the early game matchup against Oklahoma State with their road win over Texas on Saturday. 

Baylor (25-6,12-6) tied for their most wins in Big 12 history, joining the 2012 team that had the exact same record, before falling in the Big 12 title game against Missouri and then an Elite Eight loss to eventual champion Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. 

A similar run in both tournaments would be a great way to end a season of firsts for the Baylor basketball program, but would still be a disappointment.  The Bears still have several big "firsts" to achieve, starting with their first Big 12 tournament title. 

The Kansas State Wildcats (19-12, 8-10)are the first step in the road for the Bears, having split the season series with the road team winning both games. Kansas State won the last game, a shocking 56-54 victory that saw them lead 46-31 with 10-minutes to go.  A furious Baylor rally fell short though, as Johnathan Motley missed a point blank shot to tie the game. 

Since that victory for KSU, they went 1-5 over their next six games, before back to back wins over TCU and Texas Tech to close the year.  Led by seniors Wesley Iwundu and DJ Johnson, and a trio of sophomores in Dean Wade, Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown, the Wildcats depend on a strong defense that turns opponents over and is tough on interior shots.  Offensively, they are balanced with all 5-starters scoring more than 9.7 points per game.

If the Bears are able to get past the Wildcats, they are on the right side of the bracket to make a run.  They get to avoid top-seed Kansas, and two of the hottest teams in the conference in Iowa State and Oklahoma State.  West Virginia, who Baylor defeated 71-62 in their last game, is the likely semi-final opponent.  Two victories would give the Bears another change at a Big 12 title.  They are 0-3 in their other trips to the finals, losing to Missouri in 2009 and 2012, and  Iowa State in 2014. 

The past two years have seen the Bears run end in the semi-finals with losses to Kansas each year.  With Kansas' placement on the other side of the bracket, that should bode well for Baylor.  However, with a deep and talented conference, no game should be taken likely, starting Thursday night against Kansas State. 

Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championship Schedule

Date Road Team Home Team Location Time
Wed, 
Mar 08
Oklahoma TCU Kansas City, Mo. 6:00 p.m.
Wed, 
Mar 08
Texas Texas Tech Kansas City, Mo. 8:00 p.m.
Thu, 
Mar 09
Oklahoma State Iowa State Kansas City, Mo. 11:30 a.m.
Thu, 
Mar 09
TBA Kansas Kansas City, Mo. 1:30 p.m.
Thu, 
Mar 09
TBA West Virginia Kansas City, Mo. 6:00 p.m.
Thu, 
Mar 09
Kansas State Baylor Kansas City, Mo. 8:00 p.m.
Fri, 
Mar 10
TBA TBA Kansas City, Mo. 6:00 p.m.
Fri, 
Mar 10
TBA TBA Kansas City, Mo. 8:00 p.m.
Sat, 
Mar 11
TBA TBA Kansas City, Mo. 5:00 p.m.

Predictions

The Bears will make another run to the Big 12 title game, defeating Kansas State (65-57) and West Virginia (74-71) where they will take on the Kansas Jayhawks.  The two prior games between these Top-10 teams have both been close, with Kansas winning both by a combined 7 points.  Baylor had chances to tie the game late in both, with a costly turnover hurting them in the first game, and a poor shot dooming them in the second.  

The third time is the charm for the Baylor Bears, who take advantage of a Kansas team without much depth playing their third game in 3-days.  Baylor wins their first Big 12 title over KU, 72-67.


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