Baylor Bears

Five Thoughts to Preview the 2022 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Texas vs Iowa State

The Baylor Bears are the No. 1 seed going into the Big 12 Women’s Tournament, which starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday in Kansas City.

All 10 teams will be at the event, and the winner of the event will earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, which starts next week.

Here are our five thoughts entering the Big 12 Women’s Tournament.

 

Can Baylor Defend its Title?

In a word, yes. The Bears have won the last three titles (with the gap in 2020 due to COVID-19) and there’s no reason Baylor can’t win a fourth. New head coach Nicki Collen was the Heartland College Sports Coach of the Year and forward NaLyssa Smith was the Player of the Year. The Bears aren’t deep, but their core of seven players has some of the best chemistry in the conference and they’re capable of dominating anyone in the league. Well, except one. We’ll get to that. But, with a 10-game winning streak, the Bears are the hottest team in the conference, and one of the hottest in the country.

Is it Cyclone Time?

Iowa State hasn’t won the Big 12 Tournament since 2001, when it beat then-No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the championship game. Back then, the Cyclones were led by Angie Welle, who was the Cyclones’ all-time leading scorer until … Ashley Joens overtook her earlier this season. The Cyclones had a great season and they’re the No. 2 seed. But, there are two teams the Cyclones haven’t beaten in the Big 12 this season — Baylor and Texas. Guess which two teams the Cyclones will probably have to beat in order to do it? Yep, Baylor and Texas.

 

The Harmon Factor

Texas is entering the tournament on an eight-game winning streak. Some of it is due to some lineup changes that head coach Vic Schaefer made about a month ago. Some of it is due to the growth of freshman guard Rori Harmon, who claimed four different awards from the Big 12’s coaches — Freshman of the Year, Second Team, Defensive Team and Freshman Team. Schaefer calls her one of the most complete guards he’s coached in quite some time. She runs Texas’ offense with precision, has emerged as a more consistent scorer and draws the toughest defensive assignment on the floor just about every night. If Texas wins its first Big 12 Tournament since 2003, Harmon will be running, well, point.

Oklahoma Puts the ‘O’ in Offense

Remember that ‘one’ team that the Baylor Bears just haven’t been able to ‘dominate?’ Well, that would be the Sooners, who were the only team to sweep the Bears in Big 12 action. First-year Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk has harnessed the scoring power of guard Taylor Robertson and guard Madi Williams and turned the Sooners into one of the top-scoring teams in the country. OU has stumbled a bit down the stretch, but it’s the only team that has proved capable of besting the Bears, and there’s a chance the pair could meet in the semifinals.

 

What About The Rest?

Both Kansas and Kansas State have an outside chance of making noise in this tournament. The Jayhawks beat the Sooners on Saturday and have their eyes on an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in nearly a decade. Kansas State has stumbled down the stretch and the Wildcats will be facing a Texas team they’ve lost to twice. But, with center Ayoka Lee, anything can happen. As for the first-day teams, Texas Tech and West Virginia are the most likely teams to advance to meetings with the top two seeds.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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