Previewing the Big 12 men’s basketball conference tournament

Zachary Davis and

Before the NCAA committee selects the top 68 teams to represent their annual national tournament, 352 schools compete for 32 automatic bids in their respective conference tournaments. In the Big 12, all 10 schools, including Texas, compete for the conference championship and an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament.

The NCAA committee relies heavily on the NCAA Evaluation Tool — a tool that measures a team’s resume — to determine at-large candidates. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma are the three Big 12 teams that look to be in trouble as they are outside the top 36 NET rankings at No. 43, 55 and 66, respectively. The seven other Big 12 teams are ranked No. 28 or higher. 

Oklahoma State likely needs a semifinal or final run in the conference tournament to earn an at-large bid, and Texas Tech and Oklahoma likely have to win the tournament to give themselves a chance at making the NCAA tournament.

The tournament begins on Wednesday and will feature two play-in games. No. 7 seed Oklahoma State and No. 10 seed Oklahoma will play each other in a Bedlam rematch, and the winner of that game will play No. 2 seed Texas on Thursday.

The Longhorns played Oklahoma and Oklahoma State twice each during the regular season, winning all four games. Texas had little problems with Oklahoma State, winning by a combined 24 points across both matchups, but the Sooners brought some problems to the Longhorns. Texas secured the first win by one point in Norman and needed overtime to nab the season sweep in February. 

The quarterfinal round will be played on Thursday when No. 3 seed Kansas State is matched against No. 6 seed TCU and No.4 seed Baylor will face No. 5 seed Iowa State.

If Texas can win its quarterfinal game, it will play the winner of Kansas State versus TCU. Both schools split their season series with Texas and have proven to be tough opponents.

The semifinals will be held on Friday and the finals on Saturday. All games will be held at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

The automatic bid given to the conference tournament winner means more for some schools in the Big 12 than others. The conference is loaded with talent and can send most of its conference members, including Texas, to March Madness, depending on how the conference tournament plays out. 36 at-large bids are awarded to the top 36 teams that do not win their conference tournament to round out the field of 68 that play in the NCAA tournament. 

The Longhorns are a lock for March Madness for multiple reasons, including its top 10 NET rating. Currently, Texas is widely projected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

However, the beauty of March is that any school can earn a higher seed behind a successful run in its conference tournament — for Texas, that means a chance at a No. 1 next to their name.