Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM
The news just broke Tuesday afternoon that Joel Embiid’s back issues will keep him out of the Big 12 conference tournament for the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks. That could throw the tournament wide open. There are several good teams in the league…and Kansas may be just another contender without Embiid.
How can we say that when “phenom” Andrew Wiggins is still in uniform? Well, Kansas looked VERY shaky last week when Embiid was out, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. And, it’s very hard for “we need a hero” to work three days in a row against top competition. That plus a brutal draw that probably puts Kansas on the floor against Oklahoma State in the first round could launch another team to the net cutting ceremony Saturday Night.
WEDNESDAY’S FIRST ROUND
Oklahoma State (8) vs. Texas Tech (9)
Baylor (7) vs. TCU (10)
THURSDAY’S SECOND ROUND
Iowa State (4) vs. Kansas State (5)
Kansas (1) vs. Oklahoma State/Texas Tech winner
Oklahoma (2) vs. Baylor/TCU winner
Texas (3) vs. West Virginia (6)
The semifinals and finals are set for Friday and Saturday in the standard bracket format.
Oklahoma State is much better than your typical #8 seed. You’ll see that in a moment when we run the computer data. Whoever wins Iowa State/Kansas State is a lethal threat to Kansas in the semifinals. Should they make the finals, the Jayhawks will be playing their third game in three days without their star center. Maybe Kansas still has the best talent. You still have to see them as an underdog to the field in this framework.
Let’s see how college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin have the teams rated entering the tournament. Keep in mind that these rankings don’t account for the absence of Embiid.
Computer Rankings by Seed
1…Kansas: #8 in Pomeroy, #5 in Sagarin
2…Oklahoma: #27 in Pomeroy, #23 in Sagarin
3…Texas: #41 in Pomeroy, #44 in Sagarin
4…Iowa State: #28 in Pomeroy, #17 in Sagarin
5…Kansas State: #45 in Pomeroy, #41 in Sagarin
6…West Virginia: #58 in Pomeroy, #50 in Sagarin
7…Baylor: #32 in Pomeroy, #30 in Sagarin
8…Oklahoma State: #19 in Pomeroy, #15 in Sagarin
9…Texas Tech: #79 in Pomeroy, #71 in Sagarin
10…TCU: #241 in Pomeroy, #195 in Sagarin
Oklahoma State could only manage a #8 seed because of their won-lost record (influenced by injuries and suspensions in the past), yet they have the computer rating of a #2 seed. The computer guys are telling you that #1 and #2 are playing in the quarterfinals! Well, as long as Oklahoma State doesn’t get stunned by Texas Tech. You see a lot of very competitive basketball across the board. Seven teams are likely headed to the Dance. And West Virginia is lobbying for consideration as an eighth. The computers don’t quite have them there considering all the “automatics” that will go to minor conferences in the field of 68.
Pomeroy’s Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ranks By Seed
1…Kansas: #5 on offense, #31 on defense
2…Oklahoma: #11 on offense, #83 on defense
3…Texas: #76 on offense, #37 on defense
4…Iowa State: #32 on offense, #47 on defense
5…Kansas State: #120 on offense, #21 on defense
6…West Virginia: #15 on offense, #170 on defense
7…Baylor: #13 on offense, #95 on defense
8…Oklahoma State: #25 on offense, #34 on defense
9…Texas Tech: #79 on offense, #102 on defense
10…TCU: #298 on offense, #136 on defense
The question for handicappers will be how far the Kansas defense drops back without Embiid. If they’re more like a #50 team nationally on that side of the ball, then they’re just another team in this tournament. If it gets even worse…then they’ll have to outscore everyone with great shooting.
Check this out:
Top 50 Offenses: Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State
Top 50 Defenses (excluding shorthanded Kansas): Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Iowa State
You’re going to see some elite play on either side of the floor in this event. Are there truly any elite teams that can make a big splash in the Dance given the numbers above? Kansas needs Embiid back. Maybe someone else will make a case this weekend.
Most Underrated ATS
Most Overrated ATS
The markets were pretty much in synch with the Big 12 this season. Only Oklahoma was able to earn meaningful money for their backers as a “surprise” team. Nobody was a disaster.
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The Big 10 won’t start until Thursday, so we’ll be back tomorrow to preview that exciting tournament. Note that additional conference previews in this specific format will be posted on the blog at Vegas-Sports-Masters through the week. All the major and mid-major tournaments we didn’t get to handle in the NOTEBOOK will be covered there.
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