Previews & Predictions – Big 12 Basketball Tournament Semifinals
#1 Kansas (27-5, 15-4 Big 12) VS. #5 Iowa State (22-10, 12-7 Big 12) | - (Friday, March 15th at 6:30pm)
Both times Iowa State (RPI #47) has played Kansas (RPI #6) this season the games have gone to overtime. In the first one freshman superstar Ben McLemore (16.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg) scored 33 points and BANKED a downtown shot with 1 second left in regulation to take the game to OT. KU finished off Iowa State 97-89 at the end of OT. All the Jayhawks starters scored in double figures. Jeff Withey (13.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.0 bpg) and Kevin Young (7.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg) each had 12 rebounds. The second game was in Ames, IA and was a controversial one with the Cyclones fans. Elijah Johnson had a fantastic game with 39 points, but he was sent to the line with 4.9 seconds left on a questionable blocking call against Iowa State. He made his 2 free throws and the game went to OT. Kansas finished off Iowa State 108-96 in OT. KU is by far the most complete team in the Big 12, and they have 5 starters that are all stars. I can’t wait to see them in the NCAA tournament, because I will be picking them to go all the way to the Final Four. They had a huge letdown against Baylor to end the season. But, yesterday without much effort Kansas creamed Tech 91-63 and McLemore had 24 points (4 three-pointers).
Iowa State had all five starters score in double figures in their first loss to KU. Melvin Ejim (11.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg) had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. In the second loss Korie Lucious (10.1 ppg, 5.7 apg) and Tyrus McGee (13.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg) both had good nights with 23 and 22 points, respectively. Iowa State held McLemore to only 7 points in game #2. The two losses to KU doesn’t take away the fact that the Cyclones are a very good team. Yesterday they were down against Oklahoma and had a spark in the second half to come back and win the game 73-66. Ejim had 23 points and 12 rebounds.
After suffering 2 heartbreakers in OT my heart wants to tell me that Iowa State will be ready to get revenge on Kansas. ISU is a three point shooting team that can light anybody up, and pull ahead early in the game today. They have five guys on their team that average double figures in points per game. They have a coach that wants the win against KU so bad that he can taste it. But, I still believe Kansas is the best team in the Big 12 and the better team in this match-up. The game today could go down to the buzzer at the end of regulation like it has all season. I have to go with KU in this game, but I’d be happy to be wrong and see an Iowa State victory. Predicted Winner: Kansas
#2 Kansas State (26-6, 15-4 Big 12) VS. #3 Oklahoma State (24-7, 14-5 Big 12) | - (Friday, March 15th at 9pm)
Another great matchup here. Kansas State (RPI #21) has what it takes to win games. The right players, the right coaching, and the right attitude. The first time this season that K-State played Oklahoma State the wildcats won in a hard fought 73-67 victory. Rodney McGruder (15.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is their senior leader and star of the team and he had 28 points to help hold off OSU. The second game was lost by the Wildcats 76-70, but McGruder still dropped in 22 points. K-State rides the back of their senior leader and they feed off of him. He had 24 points yesterday in the 66-49 win over UT. I think K-State plays so well together and has some of the greatest chemistry together when on the court. They are going to be a hard team to beat in the NCAA tournament.
Oklahoma State (RPI #22) had frosh superstar Marcus Smart (15.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.9 spg) hit for 25 points in their loss to K-State. In the second game Smart had 21 points, but Le’Bryan Nash (14.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg) hit for 24 to help lead the Cowboys to victory. Yesterday OSU almost gave away a game that they had a huge lead in. Smart dropped 21 points, and the rest of his team helped out with four others finishing in double figures. But, OSU held on for the win over Baylor 74-72. Oklahoma State is so fun to watch because they are so hot and cold during games. When they are hot, they are on fire. OSU is a team that is so extremely dangerous with all their talented players. The NCAA tournament fans are going to love getting to watch OSU do their thing in the Big Dance and jump on the Cowboy bandwagon from get-go.
So, the games against these two are always close and they both split wins during the regular season. I again want to say that K-State will win this game with how well I have watched them play in their games. But, I am going to go with the more dynamic of the 2 teams and pick Oklahoma State to get the win. When I watch Oklahoma State they just have what it takes to be winners in a basketball tournament, let’s see if they can send off some fireworks in this one tonight. Predicted Winner: Oklahoma State