Breaking Down the Big 12 Tournament Futures

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

Conference Tournament time is upon us! As the Big 12 descends on Kansas City, the conference is poised for the most NCAA Tournament bids in league history and in the country for this year.

Let’s look at the odds for the Big 12 Tournament. These numbers are from the South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas, NV.

  • Houston -140
  • Iowa State +350
  • Baylor +700
  • Kansas 12/1
  • BYU 14/1
  • Texas Tech 20/1
  • Texas 30/1
  • TCU 60/1
  • Oklahoma 100/1
  • Cincinnati 100/1
  • Kansas State 200/1
  • UCF 250/1
  • Oklahoma State 500/1
  • West Virginia 500/1

 

The Longshots: Teams With No Chance to Win The Big 12 Tournament

Texas, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia fall into this category.

The Longhorns are going to the NCAA Tournament, but their run to a potential Big 12 Championship is just not plausible, and at 30/1, it is not a good enough price to justify betting on them.

The Sooners are only going to the NCAA Tournament because of the strength of the Big 12 and their huge win over Iowa State early in conference play.

Kansas State has a very good draw in their first Big 12 game tournament as they’ll play the Longhorns on Wednesday. The Wildcats’ issue is that the bottom of the Big 12 bracket is a gauntlet. I just don’t see them being able to rattle off wins against Iowa State, the winner of Kansas/Baylor and then Houston consecutively.

Cincinnati falls into a similar category as Kansas State, but with an extra win needed against an elite team. The Bearcats just aren’t capable of winning four straight against top-15 teams.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia will be back on their respective campuses by Thursday at the latest.

 

The Longshots: Teams With a Non-Zero Chance to Win The Big 12 Tournament

Only two teams fall into this category. Let’s start with TCU.

The Horned Frogs have been an infuriating bunch this season. They own wins over Houston and at Baylor, which are absolutely incredible resume-building wins. But it sure feels like TCU left a lot of games on the table this year, and their NCAA Tournament seeding will not be as good as the talent on this team would indicate. Now for this week in KC. It would not shock me if TCU loses to Oklahoma on Wednesday, and it would not shock me if TCU is playing on Saturday for a Big 12 Championship. The Horned Frogs have the talent and the pace of play to give Houston fits. We have already seen it in their upset win over the Cougars earlier in the year. In the end, I don’t see them beating Houston a second time, but if the Horned Frogs do find an upset, a 60/1 ticket will have some tremendous value.

The second team in this category is UCF. I’m sure plenty of you reading will think I’m insane for this, but hear me out. The Knights got a pretty good draw as the 12 seed. They should handle their business against the Pokes on Tuesday, and then they will have a shot against BYU. The Cougars are playing really well of late, but I don’t know how they will handle playing early in the morning in KC, and UCF lost two close games to the Cougars in the regular season. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Knights pull off that upset. Texas Tech would be waiting in the quarters, and UCF would split its regular season games with the Red Raiders. The path is there for the Knights to make a surprise run in Kansas City, and at 250/1, there are worse bets to be made at that price.

 

The Middle-Tier: Teams to Stay Away From in the 2024 Tournament

BYU and Texas Tech fall into this category. The Cougars are the No. 5 seed as they closed their first Big 12 campaign with a bang with a win at the Phog, a come-from-behind win against TCU, and nearly became the only team to win at Hilton. BYU’s offense is awesome, and if they are hitting threes they will be a tough out. However, I don’t like the 14/1 price on them. I would need at least 25/1 to consider them.

I’m amazed that Texas Tech ended up with a double-bye and credit to Grant McCasland for getting the Red Raiders there. Assuming Houston holds serve against the winner of TCU/Oklahoma, the Cougars are an absolutely horrendous matchup for the Red Raiders. It will not shock me if TTU loses their quarterfinal matchup, regardless of the opponent.

The “Home Court” Tier: Teams That Should Have Home Court Advantage

I think anyone who has ever been to the Big 12 tournament knows which two teams I’m referring to here. Let’s start with Kansas. The sixth-seeded Jayhawks have their lowest seed ever in a Big 12 Tournament, and that’s not by accident. The top for Kansas is as good as anyone in the country, but their depth has been a massive problem all season long, and it got pretty well exposed after the injury to Kevin McCullar. The Jayhawks are more than capable of rattling off four straight wins in this tournament, but the fact that they ended up on the tougher side of the bracket makes their path to yet another Big 12 Tournament title extremely hard.

Kansas at 12/1 is a fair price if you want to take a dart on them, but they will likely be an underdog in 3 games, so you may be better off betting them as an underdog every game if you like them.

Now for Iowa State. What an amazing season for the Cyclones, as they are poised for a No. 3 seed (at worst) in the NCAA Tournament. I’m concerned about Iowa State’s tournament sustainability for two reasons. The first issue is their offense. Yes, I realize that the Cyclones are a defense-first monster, but it is very hard to win a conference tournament in a great league or have NCAA Tournament success with a middling offense away from Hilton, and that’s what Iowa State has. Second of all, Iowa State is not the same team when you take them out of Hilton. The Cyclones’ best neutral site/road win this year at Texas. I understand they nearly won at Baylor and lost by single digits to Houston, but the results against high-end competition aren’t there away from Ames.

+350 is way too short of a price to justify betting on the Cyclones.

Tier One: The Betting Favorite

The Houston Cougars shut up all of the critics by winning the Big 12 regular season title with relative ease. Kelvin Sampson’s squad is one of six teams I give a legitimate shot to win the National Title (UConn, Purdue, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina are the others). The Cougars are an odds-on favorite to win the conference tournament at -140, which has not happened very often in this tournament throughout the years. The Cougars should have a relatively easy run to the Final, as Iowa State, Baylor, and Kansas are all on the other side of the bracket. The question is, do you want to lay a price in a league that is this loaded and in a tournament setting that Houston is not familiar with? If the Cougars were even money, I would look to bet them, but at -140, I can’t quite get there.

The Pick

My pick to win the Big 12 Tournament is the Baylor Bears. Yes, Baylor hasn’t won a Big 12 Tournament game since 2021, and yes, the Bears have dealt with inconsistencies all season, but to me, the Bears are as talented as anyone in the country. The defense is not consistent enough to win six straight games in the NCAA Tournament, but it can be consistent enough to win three straight games in three days against familiar opponents. Between the backcourt play of RayJ Dennis and Ja’Kobe Walter, the Bears have the offensive ability to score on the elite defenses of Iowa State and Houston. It is a tough road to the championship with the Bears potentially having to beat the trio of Kansas, Iowa State and Houston back to back to back but Baylor is capable of doing it and they are my bet to win the Big 12 Tournament at +700.

PICK: BAYLOR +700 to win the Big 12 Tournament