1. Kansas wins the Big 12 Tournament
The Jayhawks of Kansas defeated West Virginia by a score of 81-70 on Saturday night. KU played one heck of a second half, outscoring the Mountaineers by 12. Malik Newman led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, and six made threes. Newman won a well-deserved tournament MVP, as he scored 72 total points in the three tournament games. Newman appears to have found his stride, which is huge heading into the national tournament. Devonte’ Graham finished with 18 points and a career-high 13 assists. Graham was fantastic down the stretch in this one, including two monster threes to help Kansas finish off WVU. Svi Mykhailiuk scored 16 points on 4-of-8 from three. Svi turned in a solid tournament and Kansas will need more where that came from next week.
The story of this game was Silvio De Sousa. He dominated the boards for much of his time on the floor. He scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds. It’s amazing how far this guy has come in his short time at KU. De Sousa has gone from being a liability at any given moment to being the best big man on the floor. That’s huge for Kansas’ title hopes. The Jayhawks won this tournament without Udoka Azubuike, which is a legitimately impressive feat. Now on to the title quest.
2. Kansas’ tourney draw
Well it’s tough to say the least (and Oklahoma is in their region, which is another rant for another day). Kansas will open tournament play against 16-seed Penn on Thursday at 1:00 pm central time. That’s not the game I’m worried about… /violently knocks on wood.
The second round game for KU will either be against Seton Hall or North Carolina State. Both of these potential matchups scare me a little. Seton Hall has Angel Delgado down low and North Carolina State has Omer Yurtseven in the post. Seton Hall actually has a pretty high ceiling as a team as well. If Kansas can get by one of those two, they will play one of Clemson, Auburn, New Mexico State, or Charleston. I honestly believe there’s a chance Kansas could play any of those teams. It’s as even of a four, five, 12, and 13 grouping as you’ll ever see.
If the Jayhawks can then make the Elite Eight they will most likely play Michigan State or Duke. Both the Spartans and the Blue Devils are bad matchup for Kansas. They can rebound very well and have dynamic perimeter scoring. It’s going to be a couple weeks (hopefully) before KU has to worry about Duke or Sparty. It’s going to be a heck of a ride to get there though.
3. The most interesting games of the opening round
#8 Creighton vs #9 Kansas State, Friday at 6:50 pm central time. This is going to be a great game…if Dean Wade is good to go. Marcus Foster is the best player for the Blue Jays, who are one of the best offensive teams in America. On the flip side, K-State is a pretty good defensive team and Dean Wade can be an X-factor. Prediction: Creighton wins 80-73
#3 Texas Tech vs #14 Stephen F. Austin, Thursday at 6:27 pm central time. This right here is the game you should impress your friends with by talking about it. Stephen F. Austin is a really good mid-major school, and Texas Tech has shown an ability to play poorly at the wrong times. SFA has a history of beating teams in March too. My prediction: SFA wins 72-70
#8 Virginia Tech vs #9 Alabama, Thursday at 8:20 pm central time. Two teams that like to shoot a ton of threes. Two point guards, in Justin Robinson and Colin Sexton that can absolutely take over. This is going to be a really fun game. I’ve watched a good amount of both these teams to know they’re going to play hard. Prediction: Va Tech wins 79-74
#5 Clemson vs #12 New Mexico State, Friday 8:57 pm central time. New Mexico State is another really good mid-major team. The Aggies have been good all year and Clemson is without their best scorer. Clemson has been pretty average all year and are a prime candidate to be upset. Prediction NMSU wins 75-70.
4. RCB bracket pool
Be sure to sign up to the RCB bracket challenge on ESPN.com. It’ll be a lot of fun. Nick Weippert, Ryan Landreth, and myself will all be participating. Try to beat us. I dare you. It’s not that hard to do.
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.