While most of the major conferences in women's basketball hold their conference tournaments the weekend before the bracket reveal, the Big 12 waits until the second weekend of tournament season. That means that the Big 12 gets a lot of national attention this year—attention that it deserves. The Big 12 hasn't had a team this year that's contended for a top-five spot nationally, but it's been one of the deepest conferences, with six teams currently in the field in Charlie Creme's bracketology for ESPN, with West Virginia sitting as the second team out.
Ahead of the tournament, let's take stock of where all the Texas Big 12 schools are at and what their chances of getting an NCAA bid are.
It was a weird season for the Longhorns. Ranked in the top five nationally at the start of the season, the team's AP ranking plummetted after an early losing streak. But that losing streak came with the team's best player sidelined, and the Longhorns have gone 22-5 since then.
I've got a lot of thoughts on where Texas is seeded in ESPN's bracketology, where they currently sit on the four-seed line. The Longhorns have played much more like a two or three seed since Harmon returned—and among the Power 6 conferences, they've got the seventh-best net rating of any team this season.
I won't pretend to know what the committee will do here—they're hard to predict, and I'm still holding a grudge from 2019 when they made Rice a 12-seed. But if the Longhorns can win the Big 12 tournament, you have to think the team moves up to a three-seed, right? They'd be the champions of a conference that'll have at least six, if not seven, tournament teams.
While Baylor's solidly in the NCAA tournament, the Bears find themselves in a really unfamiliar spot: not being the top seed in the Big 12 tournament.
Instead, Baylor enters as the sixth seed and will face Iowa State in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Bears went 1-1 against the Cyclones this season, with the loss coming in double overtime back on Feb. 18. It's definitely not a terrible opening matchup for the Bears, as the teams are fairly close in net points per game—Iowa State's 33rd in the nation at +11.5, while Baylor is 46th at +9.9.
Creme currently has Baylor as an eight-seed. That could change with a good tournament run, and it could probably fall to a nine-seed if Iowa State blows out the Bears. The important thing for Baylor is not ending up in the same bracket as No. 1 South Carolina—right now, Creme has them in the Greenville 1 region with a potential second-round meeting with the unbeaten Gamecocks.
The Red Raiders feel perpetually stuck in the middle of something. Last year, they had some momentum, but the player who helped create that momentum, Vivian Gray, graduated. This year, you could say they looked like they were trending up, but the primary player who helped with that, Bre'Amber Scott, is graduating. Tech's best players just keep being a little off from the timeline of the rest of the team. That's why it'd be great to see this Tech team make an unlikely run to a tournament title—it might be the boost they need to get to the next level. The team has good coaching and a lot of good role players, but it seems like the team always only has one elite player. You really need two or more of that kind of players to compete in the Big 12: Texas has Rori Harmon plus Shaylee Gonzales, Iowa State has Ashley Joens and the duo of Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan, and Oklahoma has Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson. Tech has players who could become that kind of player going forward, but none of that's guaranteed,
Tech opens tournament play against K-State on Thursday. This is about as good a matchup as possible for Tech, as the Red Raiders went 2-0 against Kansas State this season, winning the two games by a combined 30 points.
This was a season to forget for the Horned Frogs, which finished the season 7-22 overall and 1-17 in conference play. The team's lone Big 12 win came over Kansas State on Feb. 18, winning 75-62. Those 75 points were tied for the second-most the team scored all season—even when they were winning in non-con, it wasn't because of offense. The Horned Frogs beat Grambling while scoring just 56 points, for example.
TCU heads into the offseason looking for a new head coach and with a lot of question marks about their future. The Horned Frogs are located in a great area for recruiting, but just three of their current players come from DFW.
While TCU's likely to lose to Kansas Thursday—the Jayhawks won by 18 and 23 in the regular season meetings—you should watch this game to see Tomi Taiwo play one last time. She averaged 14.4 points per game this season while shooting 36.7 percent from 3-point.
Conference Tournament Preview
Alright, let's quickly run through what to expect this week.
First, the six teams that are in Charlie Creme's bracket prediction feel pretty solidly in. Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas all feel like solid bets to be in the field no matter what. The only team in a position where it needs wins to secure an at-large bid is West Virginia, whose chances of making the field have narrowed thanks to bid steals in the AAC and WCC.
That certainty there doesn't leave a lot of intrigue for the tournament. Texas is playing for a top 16 seed and the ability to host the first two rounds, Oklahoma has a chance to do that as well and WVU is trying to pump up its resume. Beyond that, there's not really much that'll change here—maybe a team moves up or down a seed, but that's about it.
Texas is my pick to win the Big 12 tournament, largely because I think there are three teams with the talent to win it, and Texas will only have to play one of the other two to take the title. Oklahoma and Iowa State will have to face each other.