March has arrived, and for many Kansas residents, this is the most exciting time of the year. If you are craving all of the drama and excitement that comes along with March Madness, the Big 12 Tournament is exactly what you need to get you pumped before the NCAA tournament kicks off.
Unlike other conferences that feature double and triple byes, each team in the tournament is tasked with winning at least three games to win the tourney. The four bottom ranked teams, including #8 Kansas State, will have to compete in play-in games to earn spots in the main tournament.
Although Kansas State will have to fight just to earn a crack at arch-rival Kansas (the top seeded team in the tournament), the Wildcats could play a big factor in how the BIG 12 tournament plays out. One thing the team can look forward to is entering the tournament with a nearly spotless bill of health.
“At this point we are going to be at full strength with our team, barring anything crazy happening over the next two days,” head coach Bruce Weber said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I hope we have a full strength team on our hands Wednesday night.”
The Jayhawks enter the tournament as the favorites but the road to the championship won’t be easy. Despite coming off of their 11th straight regular season conference championship, there are plenty of questions for Kansas. The Jayhawks will be without freshmen power forward Cliff Alexander whose eligibility was thrown into question in relation to his mother’s dubious financial dealings.
Junior power forward Perry Ellis is also still a question mark headed into Thursday’s tournament as he recovers from a knee injury.
“He will wear a brace for the rest of the season,” head coach Bill Self said. “If the doctors say he’s not feeling well enough, we will sit him for the tournament. All indications are he is doing well with his lateral movement.”
Kansas will rely heavily on the talents of sophomore guard Frank Mason III. Mason enters the tournament averaging 12.6 points, 4.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He scored a game high 21 points in Staurday’s loss to Oklahoma.
The action kicks off tomorrow night. Kansas State will take on TCU at 6 p.m. and Texas will take on Texas Texas Tech at 8 p.m. All games will be hosted at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.