The Big 12 tournament gets started Wednesday with two evening games. Both games involve a team that will only make the NCAA tournament by winning the Big 12 tournament and another team that has nothing to gain with a win but a lot to lose with a loss. Let’s discuss the games to figure out the winner.
6:00pm (ESPNU): #8 TCU (-4) vs #9 Oklahoma State
TCU would appear to be the easy pick in this game. The Horned Frogs are going to be in the tournament and playing this game against an Oklahoma State team that will not be in the big dance really does nothing to help their resume. A loss would be damaging to TCU’s seed but they should still make the field of 68.
This game might not be as easy as we might think at first though. These two teams split during the regular season. TCU defeated Oklahoma State 70-68 in Fort Worth but lost in Stillwater 68-61.
Both teams are near the bottom of the conference in scoring defense. TCU has allowed 70.2 points per game to Oklahoma State’s 71.5. Taking a look at kenpom.com’s defensive statistics shows TCU ranked 40th in the nation in adjusted defense. OSU ranks 120th in the same category.
Offensively TCU is third in the Big 12 conference in scoring offense at 74.5 points per game. Oklahoma State is ninth at 68 ppg. Kenpom.com shows these teams closer on offense with TCU coming in at 55th in adjusted offense and OSU is 88th.
TCU shoots the ball better than the Cowboys inside the arc (45.7% vs 42.3%) but is slightly worse at defending the same shot. The advantage Oklahoma State has on offense is their three-point shooting. The Cowboys are the best team in the conference at shooting the three. They aren’t afraid of taking bad shots and at times can get on a roll making them.
Expect TCU to pass the ball better to get the open shot and do a better job of hitting the boards.
Prediction: TCU wins and advances to a quarterfinal matchup with Kansas State on Thursday.
8:00pm (ESPNU): #7 Oklahoma (-6.5) vs #10 West Virginia
Surprisingly, West Virginia is 5th in the Big 12 in scoring offense. Would you have guessed that? I should wouldn’t. The Mountaineers average 73 points per game. Oklahoma is scoring 71.2 points per game.
Also surprisingly, West Virginia is last in the conference in scoring defense. If I had not watched the Mountaineers play this season I would be certain that I was looking at the statistics list upside-down. Bob Huggins always has tough defenses but not this season. West Virginia is allowing a shocking 76.8 points per game. Oklahoma is allowing 68.1. Let’s do the math… wait a minute… still working… got it. That’s an 8.7 points per game advantage for Oklahoma. That’s huge!
Oklahoma shoots the ball better than West Virginia from every spot on the court. West Virginia is going to have to hope the Sooners struggle shooting and take advantage of their edge on the boards. But do the Mountaineers still have an advantage on the boards after losing Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris to dismissal from the team and Sagaba Konate to injury? Probably not.
Prediction: Oklahoma wins relatively easily to advance to play Texas Tech at 6:00pm Thursday in the quarterfinals.