By KEVIN LONNQUIST
Big 12 Insider
As expected the Big 12 received its five bids to the NCAA tournament when the selections were announced Sunday.
There was no surprise as Kansas earned a No. 1 seed in the South and will play its second and third round games Friday and Sunday in Kansas City. Kansas State will join its rival as the No. 4 seed in the South. Oklahoma State earned the No. 5 seed in the Midwest. Oklahoma is the No. 10 in the South and Iowa State earned the No. 10 in the West.
The Jayhawks entered championship week as a No. 2 but played themselves into a No. 1 with a dominating performance in the Big 12 tournament. And it helped that Duke went out in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
Really, the seeds were close to what we projected. We speculated Saturday that Kansas would be a top seed (right), Kansas State a four (right), Oklahoma State a five (right), Iowa State a 10 (right) and Oklahoma an 11 (wrong but close).
Kansas’ draw features a potential third round game against North Carolina. This would be the first chance for the KU fans to get after former coach Roy Williams, who returned to Chapel Hill. There are still some sore feelings about that.
Georgetown is the No. 2 seed followed by Florida, Michigan and Virginia Commonwealth. It’s a quality bracket, but the Jayhawks can get through it. Florida has had problems winning away from Gainesville. Georgetown was hot down the stretch, but the Hoyas don’t present a lot of offensive problems. Michigan has two great scorers in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke.
Kansas State has to wait until Wednesday night to know if it will play Boise State or LaSalle. Those teams play in a play-in game in Dayton. Should the Wildcats get past either, they will likely have a date with Wisconsin. Of course, KSU coach Bruce Weber knows Wisconsin very well after coaching at Illinois.
Oklahoma State is in the precarious 5-12 matchup against Oregon Thursday in San Jose. That’s going to be a tough game because Oregon coach Dana Altman has built the program steadily. The Ducks just won the Pac 12 tournament and are a very good offensive team. This is the time where Marcus Smart and Markel Brown must maintain the intensity. If they win, they probably face Atlantic 10 champion St. Louis.
Iowa State and Oklahoma have interesting matchups. The Cyclones face Notre Dame Friday in Dayton. Both schools should travel their fan bases well. Iowa State’s defense has to be better than what it was in the Big 12 tournament. Notre Dame is a streaky offensive team.
Oklahoma faces San Diego State Friday in Philadelphia. Coach Lon Kruger knows SDSU coach Steve Fisher from their days when Kruger coached UNLV in the Mountain West. A key matchup will be how the Aztecs can handle OU forward Romero Osby. The Sooners must find a way to shut down SDSU guard Jamaal Franklin, who is averaging 16 points per game. Oklahoma would face most likely Georgetown if they win. Kruger is now the only coach in NCAA history to take five different programs to the NCAA tournament. He also did it at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV.
In related Big 12 basketball postseason news, Baylor accepted a bid to the NIT and will play Long Beach State on Wednesday night in Waco. Texas accepted a bid to the CBI tournament and will play at Houston on Wednesday.
Here are the projections on how far the NCAA tournament teams will advance:
Kevin’s Big 12 NCAA Tournament Projections
Kansas: Final Four
Kansas State: Third round
Oklahoma State: Third round
Iowa State: Second round
Oklahoma: Third round