Big boys begin conference tourneys

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With many of the small and mid-major college basketball conference tournaments either over or darn near, it’s time for the big boys to begin sorting their situations out, and in the process finalize the field for the upcoming NCAA championship tournament.

In two of the more high-profile gatherings of this week, the Big 12 Conference, which could get as many as seven of its teams into the Big Dance, does its thing in Kansas City beginning Wednesday. And the Big 10 Conference, which may only send four teams to the NCAA tournament, meets in Indianapolis starting Thursday.

The action in the Big 12 commences when eighth-seeded Colorado takes on ninth-seeded Texas Tech (12:30 pm Eastern Wednesday, Big 12 Network), and Missouri and Nebraska play the 5/12 game (3 E, B12N). Then in Wednesday’s night session seven seed Oklahoma State goes up against 10 seed Oklahoma (7 E, B12N), and sixth-seeded Texas, the former No. 1 team in the land, plays 11th-seeded Iowa State (9:30 E, B12N).

On quarterfinal Thursday in the Big 12 the Colorado/Texas Tech winner gets top-seeded and current No. 1 ranked Kansas (12:30 E, ESPN2), and the Mizzou/Nebraska winner plays fourth-seeded Texas A&M (3 E, B12N). Then the OSU/OU victor gets second-seeded Kansas State (7 E, B12N), and the Texas/ISU winner plays third-seeded Baylor (9:30 E, ESPN2).

Big 12 semifinal play goes down Friday night (7 and 9:30 E, B12N), and the Big 12 tournament championship game will be played Saturday evening (6 E, ESPN).

Kansas, which went 15-1 in conference play, is the clear favorite at Oddsmaker.com to win the Big 12 Conference tournament this weekend, listed at -300. K-State (11-5) is the second choice on Oddsmaker.com’s Big 12 tournament betting board at +300, followed by Baylor (11-5) at +500, Texas (9-7) at +600, Oklahoma State (9-7) at +1,000, Texas A&M (11-5) at +1,200, Mizzou (10-6) at +1,500, Oklahoma (4-12) and Texas Tech (4-12) at +3,000, Colorado (6-10) at +7,500, Iowa State (4-12) at +20,000 and Nebraska (2-14) at +30,000.

Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State ended up tied for first place in the Big 10 regular season standings, all at 14-4, but OSU got the top seed in the conference tournament thanks to the better record in play among the three teams.

Big 10 tournament play begins Thursday afternoon when eighth-seeded Michigan takes on ninth-seeded Iowa (2:30 pm E, ESPN2). Then seven seed Northwestern takes on 10 seed Indiana (5 E, ESPN2). And Minnesota and Penn State cap off the night with the six/11 game (7:30 E, Big 10 Network).

Friday’s Big 10 action starts with the top-seeded Buckeyes playing the winner of the Michigan/Iowa game (noon E, ESPN). Then fourth-seeded Wisconsin takes on a fifth-seeded Illinois team that desperately needs another win at least to make the NCAA tournament (2:25 E, ESPN). The late session then starts with the second-seeded Boilermakers going against the Northwestern/Indiana winner (6:30 E, BTN). And the third-seeded Spartans then play the winner of the Minnesota/Penn State game (9 E, BTN).

The Big 10 semifinals will be played Saturday afternoon (1:40 and 4 E, CBS), and the conference tournament championship game is set for Sunday afternoon (3:30 E, CBS).

As of Tuesday morning Oddsmaker.com is listing Ohio State as a +150 favorite to win the Big 10 tournament this weekend. Michigan State is the second choice on that board at +175, followed by Purdue at +300, Wisconsin (13-5 in conference play) at +500, Illinois (10-8) and Minnesota (9-9) at +1,500, Michigan (7-11) and Northwestern (7-11) at +5,000, and Iowa (4-14), Indiana (4-14) and Penn State (3-15) at +7,500.

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