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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Big 12 Tournament: Kansas, K-State look to grab tourney crown

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The Dagger will be previewing eight of this week's conference tournaments. Here's our look at the Big 12 tournament.

Big 12 Tournament

Dates: March 9-12

Site: Sprint Center (Kansas City, Mo.)

Draw: Click Here

Favorite: Kansas is the reigning Big 12 regular season and tournament champion and has won the tournament four of the past five seasons. And while the Jayhawks are the favorite again this year, many are keeping a watchful eye on a resurgent Kansas State team that won its final six games and looked like the team everyone expected when the Wildcats were picked to win the conference back in November. Unfortunately, Kansas and Kansas State -- one of the two teams to defeat the Jayhawks this season -- are on a collision course to meet in the semifinals rather than finals as they did a year ago and whoever wins that game should have the clear edge over the winner from the weaker half of the bracket.

Three others who can win it: Even though Texas has lost three of its last five, it's hard to count the Longhorns out because of a favorable draw that starts with the winner of Oklahoma-Baylor, two teams the Longhorns have beaten twice each. Missouri also has the benefit of being in the weaker bracket with Kansas and Kansas State on the other side. However, the Tigers open with a Texas Tech team that could either be fired up or dismayed by the firing of their head coach on Monday. And don't count out Colorado. The Buffs were one of he conference's top teams early in the season. They've beaten Kansas State twice and given Kansas all they can handle in both matchups.

Three players to watch:

* Jacob Pullen, G, Kansas State -- He's the main reason K-State is looking at a tourney bid

* Markieff Morris, F, Kansas — One of the nation's best interior players with the ability to step out and shoot.

* Alec Burks, G, Colorado: One of the league's best scorers and the catalyst for all of Colorado's late-game heroics.

Bubble implications: Colorado is probably one of the last teams in the NCAA Tournament right now, but a couple wins in the conference tournament, especially another one against Kansas State, could go a long way with the selection committee. The Buffs need to win at least one game to avoid being bounced to the NIT. Baylor and Nebraska both lost their season finales, which pretty much burst their respective bubble hopes. Still, a run to the final could be enough to bump another bubble team and put either the Bears or the 'Huskers in the conversation.

Projected champ: As noted above, Kansas and Kansas State are the two strongest teams in this tournament and whoever emerges from that semifinal game should be the tournament winner. Texas and Texas A&M are the top-seeded teams on the other side of the bracket, but both have lacked consistency down the stretch and are far more vulnerable to being picked off by a weaker team early than either of the Kansas schools.

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