Kansas Jayhawks, 2-seed (27-6, 16-2 Big 12)
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for perennial basketball powerhouse Kansas. But even in a rebuilding year, Bill Self's Jayhawks are very, very good. This is thanks in part to the dominance of senior guard Tyshawn Taylor (17.3 ppg) and junior forward Thomas Robinson. Robinson, the Big 12 Player of the Year and a favorite for National Player of the Year, who averages 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
Kansas lost three times during a tough non-conference schedule -- to Kentucky, Duke, and Davidson -- but only lost to Missouri and Iowa State during regular season Big 12 play. The Jayhawks were expected to play Missouri for the Big 12 title, but were upset by Baylor (3-seed) in the semi-final round.
Best-case scenario: A national championship.
Most likely scenario: Robinson takes the Jayhawks past North Carolina to the Final Four.
Missouri Tigers, 2-seed (30-4, 14-4 Big 12)
Mizzou has experienced unprecedented success during its final year as a member of the Big 12 conference. The Tigers notched a regular season school-high in wins and a Big 12 tournament championship. They may have one of the shallowest benches in the tournament, but five of the Tigers seven scholarship players are seniors and under new head coach Frank Haith, Mizzou has bought into a "team-first" attitude. Though they lack much of an inside presence, Mizzou's guard-heavy rotation causes matchup problems for opposing defenses, and they lead the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency -- placing sixth in the nation in scoring, tied for second in field goal percentage and in the top 15 in both free throw and three-point shooting percentage.
Best-case scenario: A national championship.
Most likely scenario: Marcus Denmon, Kim English and the rest of the team squeeze past Michigan State and lose to Kentucky in the school's first ever Final Four trip.
Baylor Bears, 3-seed (27-7, 12-6 Big 12)
Baylor came into the season with a lot of hype, as 6'11" Perry Jones III decided to return for his sophomore year and team up with top 10 recruit 6'9" Quincy Miller and 6'7" forward Quincy Acy to form one of the tallest frontcourts in the nation. The Bears cruised through a non-conference schedule that included five tournament teams, but couldn't beat the top of the Big 12, getting swept in the regular season by both the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers. They did get revenge on the Kansas loss during the Big 12 tournament, and Jones is really starting to hit his stride in March, averaging 21.7 ppg and 9.7 rpg while leading Baylor to the Big 12 tournament championship game.
Best-case scenario: The Bears' size overcomes Duke in the Sweet 16, but gets neutralized against a very athletic Kentucky team in an Elite Eight loss.
Most likely scenario: The Bears should win their first two games easily, but will fall to either Duke or Kentucky in the second weekend of play.
Iowa State, 8-seed (22-10, 12-6 Big 12)
Iowa State was the big unknown coming into the season, as three of their starters were transfers from Big Ten schools. After some brutal early season losses, the trio -- Minnesota transfer Royce White, Michigan State transfer Chris Allen and Penn State transfer Chris Babb -- have found their groove lately, and finished the season tied for third in the conference.
Best-case scenario: Clone fans would do backflips if ISU can make it through the first weekend, meaning they'll have beaten the defending champion UConn Huskies and tournament favorite Kentucky Wildcats. Tall order indeed.
Most likely scenario: The 8/9 game is always a toss-up, but should ISU beat UConn, they'll fall to Kentucky in the Round of 32.
Kansas State Wildcats, 8-seed (21-10, 10-8 Big 12)
Kansas State may not have the NBA-caliber talent of the last few years, but they're still a Frank Martin squad. They're tough, they're physical, and they play defense. Despite grappling with consistency issues, the Wildcats finished fifth in a strong Big 12 conference. Junior guard Rodney McGruder leads the team with 15.4 points per game, but look for the guard play of freshman Angel Rodriguez to determine the game.
Best-case scenario: If they can beat Kansas and Missouri (twice), the Wildcats can beat just about anyone in the field. Of course, if they can lose to Oklahoma (twice), the Wildcats can lose to just about anyone in the field. If the "good" Kansas State comes to play, they can make it past Syracuse to the Elite Eight.
Most likely scenario: Kansas State beats Southern Miss, but loses to Syracuse in a close, gritty game.
Texas Longhorns, 11-seed (20-13, 9-9 Big 12)
Texas has never missed an NCAA tournament under head coach Rick Barnes -- although they came close this year. After losing all five starters from last season, the Longhorns struggled with consistency and closing down-to-the-wire games.
Texas doesn't have an imposing frontcourt or a lot of post-season experience, but they do have something no one else does: leading Big 12 scorer J'Covan Brown. The junior guard, who averages 20.1 points per game, is the most reliable scorer on a team that counts five freshmen among the regular lineup.
Best-case scenario: You're looking at it. The goal of this Texas team was always just to make it to the dance. Even if Texas can get past Cincinnati's Yancy Gates (a tall order without injured forward Alexis Wangmene) and ACC champ Florida State, second-seeded Ohio State should stop them cold.
Most likely scenario: The Bearcats send the 'Horns home after round one.
Evan Pfaff and Ellen Carnes are writers at SB Nation's Big 12 basketball blog, Big 12 Hoops, www.big12hoops.com
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