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HCS Staff Picks for 2023 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Championship-Iowa State vs West Virginia

It’s that time again. The 2023 Big 12 Basketball Tournament is upon us and its almost time to crown a champion once again.

With the conference tournament tipping off on Wednesday and the Championship Game on Saturday, the Heartland College Sports staff is ready to give some predictions on who will come out on top in this year’s Big 12 tournament.

Here’s a look at who we think will lift the trophy at the end of the week.

 

Pete Mundo

No. 5 Iowa State over No. 6 TCU

Yes, this is a dark horse pick all around, but it’s the Big 12 Basketball Tournament and if there is anything we’ve learned this season is that anyone can beat anyone on any given night, so why not expect some chaos this week in Kansas City? The Cyclones have had plenty of success in Kansas City and bring in the No. 1 defense in PPG in the league. Defense travels, especially in a neutral site, where you know Cyclones fans will be in attendance and a few Busch Lights deep. ISU ended the season on a high note beating Baylor in Waco, and while it’s tough to beat any team three times in a season, they seem to have BU’s number and then would take on a Kansas team who they lost to by two points on the road and beat by 15 at home. They can pull that game out as well, which could be the best game of the tournament. Meantime, TCU is getting back on track with Mike Miles back in the lineup and getting healthy. TCU’s defense is underrated and they’re one of the best rebounding teams in the league as well. They won three of five to finish the season and other than Oklahoma State, who is playing to try and get into the NCAA Tournament, the Frogs may stand the most to gain by trying to dramatically improve their seeding by getting to Saturday’s Championship Game. But in the end, the Cyclones get it done in front of Hilton South, which turns out to be the difference in this game. Iowa State 68, TCU 64.

(Editor Note: This pick was made before the news that Eddie Lampkin Jr. did not travel to Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament.)

Matthew Postins

No. 1 Kansas over No 3. Kansas State

During our pre-tournament podcast I picked a Sunflower State championship game. I also picked Kansas to win. Both teams are on a nice run at the moment and probably have the most momentum going into Kansas City among the tournament favorites. The first meeting was a Kansas State OT win that announced that the Wildcats were for real. The second meeting was a Kansas win that, in hindsight, signaled they were emerging from a mid-season funk. The third meeting, on a neutral floor in KC, should be no less epic. A last-second basket by Jalen Wilson wins it. Kansas 78, Kansas State 77.

 

Bryan Clinton

No. 1 Kansas over No. 2 Texas

Kansas is the pick here in my mind, but as the top seed in the conference, and in all likelihood a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, that feels a bit chalky. However, Jalen Wilson is playing at a different level right now and I see a combination of Wilson and Gradey Dick being too much for anyone on Kansas’ half of the bracket. I was ready to take TCU all the way to the Championship Game before the news about Eddie Lampkin Jr. came out. Without him, the Frogs aren’t nearly the contender that they could be, despite Mike Miles being one of the nation’s best guards. Without the roadblock of TCU, give me Rodney Terry and the Texas Longhorns to make it the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament championship game since 2016. This time around, Kansas gets its revenge after the Longhorns blew out KU in the Moody Center just last week.

Joey Helmer

No. 1 Kansas over No. 3 Kansas State

Kansas is the outright champion in the regular season, is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and is the safest pick, if you will, in this loaded league to win this week’s festivities. They should be getting set to play quite a few games at the T-Mobile Center here in the coming days, and one of those will be a title game victory in the Big 12 Tournament. Jalen Wilson is the consensus Big 12 Player of the Year and rightfully so with a league-leading 19.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He has plenty of support around him in the likes of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Dajuan Harris and Most Improved Player KJ Adams. I was all set to pit the Jayhawks against the team that handed them their most lopsided loss of the 2022-23 campaign, the TCU Horned Frogs, but Eddie Lampkin not traveling gives me some major pause on the ‘Frogs. Instead, I’m going with a Sunflower Showdown and Kansas State to lose in a rubber match to their arch rivals. My basis is this: I have a gut feeling that the Bedlam winner is going to upset the second-most justifiable option next to Kansas as this week’s pick. Therefore, the path has opened up some for a Wildcats team that hit a major bump in recent days after their scorching start. Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson give this team plenty of firepower to win a couple games under that scenario.

 

Joe Tillery

No. 3 Kansas State over No. 1 Kansas

It’s hard for me to look at the Big 12 tournament and see anyone who can really push Kansas out on the Jayhawks side of the bracket, however, I think that on the Texas Longhorns side of things is a wide-open vacancy. The Kansas Jayhawks will experience the most trouble against West Virginia given that Huggins’ squad can take down Texas Tech, but I like the Jayhawks to walk their way into the championship following a game against Baylor that is dominated by KJ Adams in the low post.

The Kansas State Wildcats is the other half of my championship matchup, and believe it or not, I think the Tang gang is headed to the finals if they can sneak past TCU. KSU is a bad matchup for Texas and I like Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell far too much to count the Wildcats out now. In my Big 12 Championship prediction, I like the Kansas State Wildcats to dethrone the Kansas Jayhawks in a second overtime matchup following a big night for Markquis Nowell. Cats 82-77.

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