Busting Brackets

Big 12 Basketball: 2024 conference tournament preview and predictions

Houston v Baylor
Houston v Baylor / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages
1 of 5

In the first season with this expanded field of teams, we were naturally going to inherently see some firsts in the Big 12. The obvious one is the clear and consistent outpacing Kelvin Sampson and the Houston Cougars had over the rest of the league. The Cougars held onto a two-game lead for the regular season title, never losing a game at home.

It was also a season of firsts for well established teams in the conference as well. It was the first time since winning the league in 2001 that Iowa State finished in the top two of the conference, which also is the last time they went undefeated at home prior to this season.

This season is also the first time that 16-time-conference-title-winning Bill Self lost 7 games in the conference, finishing 10-8 and losing star center Hunter Dickinson to a dislocated shoulder in their regular season finale loss to Houston and he nor teammate Kevin McCullar will be available for the conference tournament. Dickinson and McCullar are the leading scorers for the Jayhawks and account for 43.8% of the team’s total points on the year.

The Big 12 is traditionally heralded as the premier basketball league in the NCAA, and this season is no different despite questions about the intensity of teams’ nonconference schedules headed into the new year. The level of competition was so low, that coaches in other conferences began questioning whether or not the conference was gaming the NET.

Clemson’s head coach Brad Brownell called out this possible strategy in February, saying on WCCP radio, “They are playing 300-level teams and winning by 40 and 50 points to increase their offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, which is a big part of the NET tool. So that’s why you see teams trying to win by 30 and 40 points instead of putting in their walk-ons.”

You could also argue, however, that as the crown jewel of college basketball, the ease in schedule for these teams is to save their best for when they play each other. In the final regular season AP poll, the Big 12 had ## in the top 25. Here are more details for what should be one of the most competitive conference tournaments in the sport.