The Big 12 got seven teams into the NCAA Tournament. Here is a breakdown of their key personnel and their chances in the 68-team championship event:
Iowa State (25-8)
Seed: 3, South Region
First game: 11:40 a.m. Thursday, vs. UAB, Louisville, Ky.
Their coach: Fred Hoiberg
Their scoring leader: Georges Niang, 15.5
Their rebounding leader: Jameel McKay, 7.4
Their assists leader: Monte Morris, 5.2
Their chances: Excellent. The Cyclones are versatile, deep and boast one of the best all-around players in college basketball, do-it-all Georges Niang. But really, that could describe most of the players on this team. As TCU coach Trent Johnson put it, “They have eight or nine really, really, really good basketball players.” Plus, after the past two weeks, they know how to rally.
Kansas Jayhawks (26-8)
Seed: 2, Midwest
First game: 11:15 a.m. Friday, vs. New Mexico State, Omaha, Neb.
Their coach: Bill Self
Their scoring leader: Perry Ellis, 13.8
Their rebounding leader: Perry Ellis, 7.0
Their assists leader: Frank Mason III, 4.0
Their chances: Excellent. The guard play is tremendous with Kelly Oubre Jr. and Frank Mason, and with Perry Ellis slowed by a knee injury, forward Wayne Selden Jr. nearly stole the show at the Big 12 tournament. If the Jayhawks get just a little more consistent with their shooting, get a little healthier, and if center Landon Lucas adds pop to the offense inside, look out.
Baylor Bears (24-9)
Seed: 3, West
First game: 12:40 p.m. Thursday, vs. Georgia State, Jacksonville, Fla.
Their coach: Scott Drew
Their scoring leader: Tashaun Prince, 13.8
Their rebounding leader: Rico Gathers, 11.6
Their assist leader: Kenny Chery, 4.0
Their chances: Very good, because the Bears are very good at a couple of important things, rebounding and taking care of the ball. Rico Gathers led the league in rebounds per game, 11.6 — no one else was close to even 10 — and the Bears were second in the league in rebounds per game. The Bears were also second in steals and assists-to-turnover ratio. Not bad at all in a league such as the Big 12.
West Virginia Mountaineers (23-9)
Seed: 5, Midwest
First game: 1:10 p.m. Friday, vs. Buffalo, Columbus, Ohio
Their coach: Bob Huggins
Their scoring leader: Juwan Staten, 14.5
Their rebounding leader: Devin Williams, 8.2
Their assists leader: Juwan Staten, 4.6
Their chances: Not bad as long as Juwan Staten is on his game. He’s a take-over-a-game type, and that is not a bad thing to have in the NCAA tournament. Trouble is, this isn’t a great defensive team or a good free-throw shooting team. But it’s got a bunch of ball hounds who will pressure the ball everywhere on the court, and Huggins is a veteran coach who knows the drill.
Oklahoma Sooners (22-10)
Seed: 3, East
First game: 6:27 p.m. Friday, vs. Albany, Columbus, Ohio
Their coach: Lon Kruger
Their scoring leader: Buddy Hield, 17.5
Their rebounding leader: Ryan Spangler, 8.0
Their assists leader: Jordan Woodard, 3.9
Their chances: Decent, if only because they have the MVP in the Big 12, Buddy Hield, who led the league in scoring. When the opponent has to respect the threat of his points, things happen inside for Ryan Spangler and TaShawn Thomas, the forwards who had the two best shooting percentages in the Big 12 — 58.6 for Spangler, and 51.6 for Thomas. Not a bad 1-2-3 punch.
Texas Longhorns (20-13)
Seed: 11, Midwest
First game: 1:45 p.m. Thursday, vs. Butler, Pittsburgh
Their coach: Rick Barnes
Their scoring leader: Isaiah Taylor, 13.0
Their rebounding leader: Myles Turner, 6.4
Their assists leader: Isaiah Taylor, 4.6
Their chances: Good, but that’s judging on talent alone. There are three dangerous guards on the roster, plus one of the nation’s prized recruits in Myles Turner. The Longhorns were the league’s best rebounders. They belong on the court with any team in the country, but something keeps failing to mesh. Maybe the Big 12 coaches know the Texas weaknesses too well. Maybe a change of scenery will help.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (18-13)
Seed: 9, West
First game: 5:50 p.m. Friday, vs. Oregon, Omaha, Neb.
Their coach: Travis Ford
Their scoring leader: Le’Bryan Nash, 17.1
Their rebounding leader: Michael Cobbins, 5.9
Their assists leader: Anthony Hickey Jr., 3.5
Their chances: Slim, mainly because there’s just not enough scoring punch. Le’Bryan Nash is a force, but as a frontcourt player, he needs to get the ball in the right spots to work. The Cowboys were one of the worst assists-to-turnover ratio teams in the league. Strangely, this isn’t a very strong rebounding squad, either, ranking ninth in the conference.