All the Big 12 Conference Tournament games are important to help determine NCAA Tournament seeds.
All the games except the championship.
Because the Big 12 title game will be played Sunday evening, the NCAA tournament bracket will be finalized before the game starts. In a teleconference Monday, Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said the late start can be troublesome.
“It’s a hindrance from the standpoint that the selection and the seeding has already been done,” Sutton said. “I think the league gets penalized a little bit.”
This year, if taken into account, the extra game could change things for several Big 12 teams. Sutton said if Kansas won the championship before the selection, then the Jayhawks would most likely get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, Kansas won’t have that opportunity and will most likely be seeded No. 2.
Kansas isn’t the only team fighting for a good spot in the tournament bracket. Kansas coach Bill Self said teams have a lot to gain or lose based on how well they do in the tournament.
“The Big 12 Conference tournament has more to play for than in years past,” Self said. “You have teams fighting for seeds. If we don’t perform well we could definitely drop a lot.”
BIG 12 HONORS: Kansas forward Wayne Simien was unanimously voted Big 12 Player of the Year. Simien, a senior, led the conference in scoring (19.4) and rebounding (11.1). He was the only player in the conference to average a double-double.
He scored 20 points or more in 12 games. On March 2 against Kansas State, Simien became the seventh player in Big 12 history to have 20 or more points and rebounds in a game.
Oklahoma’s Taj Gray received Newcomer of the Year honors for helping the Sooners become regular season co-champions.
Gray, a junior transfer, had 10 double-doubles and averaged 14.7 points and 7.8 rebounds in his first season at Oklahoma. He also had a league-high 57 blocks.
Freshman of the Year honors went to Texas’ Daniel Gibson. As a starting guard for the Longhorns, Gibson led the team in scoring with 14.5 points. He also handed out 118 assists.
It is not surprising that Billie Gillispie received Coach of the Year honors for his turnaround of the Texas A&M program.
The Aggies failed to win a single conference game during the 2003-04 season. This year they are fighting for a NCAA tournament bid. Texas A&M tied San Diego for the nation’s best turnaround with 12 more victories than the previous season.
“I think we’ve really heightened awareness of Texas A&M basketball locally and also nationally,” Gillispie said. “I think that people can understand that we can become a player in the Big 12.”
Missouri forward Linas Kleiza received All-Big 12 honorable mention honors.
In his sophomore season and first full season with the Tigers, Kleiza averaged a team high 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. He also had nine double-doubles, which is the third highest in the Big 12.
Three of those double-doubles came in the Tigers’ past four games, including 15 points and 14 rebounds in a victory against Kansas on Sunday.