Busting Brackets

Big 12 Tournament Scouting Report


The Big 12 has been the most competitive conference race of the year. As the conference tournament gets underway today we look at some of the X’s & O’s from the potential contenders. 

The Big 12 Tournament commences tonight in Kansas City and the race for the title is wide open. Kansas survived the regular season gauntlet to claim its 11th straight Big 12 title, but the difference between the Jayhawks and the rest of the field is slim. The tournament title is truly up for grabs.

As a viewer’s guide, we will look at a four of the contending teams and the X’s and O’s behind their attacks.

Texas Longhorns

Yes, despite their sub .500 conference record, the Texas Longhorns (19-12, 8-10 Big 12) are a contender for the Big 12 Tournament title. The Horns feature one of the longest front lines in the nation with Myles Turner, Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley all standing 6’9″ or taller.

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  • Texas uses a mixture of man-to-man defense and 2-3 zone to keep opponents off balance. At one point in the season the Longhorns were ranked No. 6 in the nation and took Kentucky to the wire in Rupp Arena. Their struggles offensively have been somewhat due to injuries and lack of consistency in the line up.

    Rick Barnes might well be coaching for his job and the Longhorns rest firmly on the bubble, but this team has talent galore and if they can peak during the conference tournament, Texas is a team that can make noise in March.

    The Longhorns use a “horns” set perhaps more than any team in the country. Texas wants to play through its big guys and by running their break straight into “horns” alignments they can do just that.

    Oklahoma Sooners

    The Oklahoma Sooners (21-9, 12-6 Big 12) play at a blistering tempo behind a trio of skilled guards – Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard. Hield was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and has the talent to carry the Sooners to the conference tournament title.

    The Sooners’ defense is the real story in 2014-2015. They were 90th in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2013-2014. This season the Sooners have risen to sixth in the country in the same stat with largely the same players.

    Offensively, the Sooners play out of their transition offense and take shots quickly. Kruger’s offense uses weave action and dribble handoffs to generate shots. Any Oklahoma game is sure to be and up-tempo affair.

    Iowa State Cyclones

    Fred Hoiberg‘s Cyclones finished the regular season as the runners-up to Kansas. If the Sooners play fast, Iowa State (22-8, 12-6 Big 12) plays on turbo. The Cyclones are seventh in the country in adjusted tempo and average nearly 80 points per game.

    Hoiberg has a veteran squad that made the Sweet Sixteen last season. Georges Niang is the key to their attack and Hoiberg uses him as a weapon to exploit mismatches. Niang is an exceptional passer and ball handler and is often asked to play a “point-forward” role.

    Hoiberg draws heavily from the NBA playbook. When watching Iowa State you are watching an NBA style attack featuring sets and actions garnered from Hoiberg’s time in the league as a player and executive.

    Kansas Jayhawks

    Bill Self captured his 11th consecutive Big 12 title and still his Kansas Jayhawks (24-7, 13-5 Big 12) head into the conference tournament with question marks. Cliff Alexander appears to be missing due to NCAA issues, Brannen Greene has sit due to disciplinary reasons and Perry Ellis missed the season finale against Oklahoma.

    But the Jayhawks will solve some, if not all, of these issues and perform well in the Big 12 bracket. A good showing in Kansas City could solidify a #2 seed in the Big Dance.

    Any discussion of Kansas and X’s and O’s must begin with Self’s High-Low Offense. It has long been the staple of his Jayhawk teams.

    The offense is effective because of its spacing, movement away from the ball and the signature high-low pass. The Jayhawks often feed the low post from the center or near the center of the floor rather than the wing. This “over the top” passing angle makes it impossible for defenses to support on lob entries.

    The Big 12 regular season has be amazing. The conference has had the top RPI in the country all season and nine of its ten teams have been ranked at some point during the season. The tournament will be a fitting ending to a hyper-competitive year.

    With all due respect to Baylor and their 1-1-3 zone, the Big 12 Tournament champion will come from this list. Look for these tactics to lead them to the title.

    Next: Big 12 Tournament Preview: Kansas To Continue Dominance?

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