The Big 12 Basketball Tournament starts Wednesday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. The No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks, the defending NCAA Champion, will begin play Thursday afternoon against the winner of Wednesday’s West Virginia vs. Texas Tech matchup. The No. 3-seeded Kansas State Wildcats will make their tournament debut against No. 6 TCU Thursday night.
It's the first Big 12 Tournament since Kansas sports betting went live last September, and without wagering in Missouri, the roads from downtown Kansas City to the Kansas state line could be busy this week.
Kansas (25-6, 13-5) will begin the tournament ranked second in the country in RPI, but it’s no lock to win the Big 12 as the conference is loaded, far and away the nation’s top conference according to college stats guru Ken Pomeroy.
Nine of the 10 teams in the conference — too late now to change the name to the Big Ten — are ranked in the RPI Top 100. No. 9 Baylor and No. 10 Texas join Kansas in the nation’s Top 10. No. 17 Kansas St. adds a fourth Big 12 team to the Top 20.
So, can either Kansas team make it through to win the title? Of course. But it’s going to be a beast. It wouldn’t shock anyone if two Big 12 teams end up in the Final Four.
If you plan to bet on the Big 12 Tournament on Kansas betting apps, here’s a look at what to expect.
Big 12 Tournament Odds
For all the Kansas sportsbook promos in advance of the NCAA Tournament, keep reading BetKansas.com.
Wilson Leads the Way for Jayhawks
The Jayhawks are led by 6-8 junior Jalen Wilson, who shoots 46% from two, a respectable 33.5% from behind the arc and a solid 78% from the line.
Wilson gets plenty of help from 6-1 junior Dejuan Harris, 6-6 senior Kevin McCullar, 6-7 sophomore KJ Adams and 6-8 freshman Gradey Dick. Wilson and Harris started on last year’s title winner. Bench minutes are among the lowest in the country.
Kansas has a Top 10 defense and a Top 25 offense, and its only non-conference loss was 64-50 to RPI 18 Tennessee on a neutral court in November. In conference play the Jayhawks split with Baylor, Texas, Kansas St., No. 50 Iowa State, and No. 66 TCU.
After a 68-53 loss at Iowa State on Feb. 4, Kansas reeled off seven straight wins before ending the season with a 75-59 loss at Texas. As for its first round Big 12 matchup, Kansas struggled with both West Virginia and Texas Tech, although it won all four games.
Can Wildcats Make a Run?
Kansas State (23-8, 11-7) is also led by a top-15 defense and by three seniors: 5-8 Markquis Nowell, 6-6 Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson and 6-2 Arkansas St. (and Arkansas) transfer Desi Sills, already 24 years old, who missed the regular season finale in West Virginia after a death in his family.
They’re joined by 6-10 junior Nae-Qwan Tomlin and 6-1 sophomore Cam Carter. The Wildcats don’t get a ton of production off the bench either.
Kansas State’s only non-conference loss was at No. 154 Butler, and it went 11-7 in the Big 12, splitting games with Kansas, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa State, TCU, No. 89 Oklahoma and No. 127 Texas Tech. On the plus side for K-State, it did sweep Baylor. Kansas State lost to first round opponent TCU, 82-68 on the road but beat the Frogs 82-61 at home.
Both teams are going to have a big home-court advantage: Kansas is only 45 minutes from the arena, and Kansas State is less than two hours.
Big 12 Tournament odds can differ with various bookmakers, but Kansas is the favorite in the +250 range. Kansas State is fourth behind Texas and Baylor at around +700. If you want to bet Kansas to repeat as NCAA champions, you should get at least 8-to-1. Kansas State winning it all could get you between 60- and 70-to-1.