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Big 12 Preview: Others hope to pounce on a trophy with Kansas weakened

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Iowa State Cyclones guard DeAndre Kane (50) and forwards Melvin Ejim (3) and Georges Niang (31) during the game …

The Dagger will be previewing this week's marquee conference tournaments. Here's our look at the Big 12:

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Dates:
March 12-15
Site: Kansas City (Sprint Center)
Top four seeds: 1. Kansas 2. Oklahoma 3. Texas 4. Iowa State
Draw: Click here

Best draw:  Iowa State split the season series with Kansas State but the Wildcats have been inconsistent throughout Big 12 play. The Cyclones would then likely face a Kansas team missing Joel Embiid or an Oklahoma State team it just beat to end the regular season to reach the championship game.

Worst draw: Oklahoma earned the No. 2 seed but this can’t look like much of a reward. The Sooners are likely to face a very dangerous Baylor team in the quarterfinals and then would have to get past either Texas or West Virginia just to get to the championship game. The first challenge is defending the 3-point line against Baylor, the top long-range shooting team in the conference. That is assuming the Bears beat TCU.

Three players to watch:

• Melvin Ejim, F, Iowa State —   The conference’s Player of the Year finished as its second leading scorer and rebounder at 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. He’s a handful and most teams don’t have answers for him.

• Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma —   He does a little bit of everything for the underrated Sooners and he does it all well. He was second in the league in steals and fourth in 3-point shooting.

• Andrew Wiggins, G, Kansas —  With Embiid not expected to play, a lot of weight falls on the former top recruit to rally the Jayhawks, who are still trying to make history by becoming the first team in history with more than seven losses to earn a No. 1 seed.  

Bubble implications:  Seven of the 10 teams here are likely going to be in the NCAA tournament, but Oklahoma State’s seven-game losing streak last month is still fresh enough in minds that it could lose its spot if it doesn’t take care of business in its opening game against Texas Tech. Baylor won seven of its final eight and should be in the tournament.  

Projected champ: Iowa State brings three of the top-10 scorers in the conference to the party. It needs to buckle down defensively and it can win because of its offensive prowess. The Cyclones should experience a friendly atmosphere with plenty of support considering it’s a relatively short trip for ISU fans. The Cyclones are in the half of the bracket where there are definitely more question marks with other teams. This is a hungry team capable of much more than a conference tournament title, but it would be a nice start

 

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Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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