- Brian Taylor
The University of Missouri takes its final Big 12 basketball bow this week at the Sprint Center and Municipal Auditorium. This year may also mark the beginning of the end of the Big 12's tournament presence in Kansas City, thanks to Mizzou's jump to the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers' carpetbagging leaves the Big 12 with no schools in the Show-Me State (and conference leaders struggling to justify keeping its big event in a state with no members). The conference has already pulled the women's tournament from Kansas City, starting next year, when it moves to Dallas and then, in 2014, to Oklahoma City.
"Kansas City continues to be a valuable partner of the Big 12," interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement.
Thanks, Chuck, for the beautiful love letter.
The men's basketball tournament is scheduled for the Sprint Center through 2014. After that, the future is unclear. So in an effort to celebrate the tournament while we still have it, The Pitch has compiled this unofficial program to the hardwood action: stats and opinions, along with suggestions on whom to watch, whom to watch for, and where to watch if you can't get into the Sprint Center or Municipal Auditorium.
15 Players to Watch
- Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The 6-foot-10-inch forward is in the hunt to be named national player of the year. He's also a top-five pick in this June's NBA draft.
Perry Jones III, Baylor
The forward's stock has dropped some, but he's still considered a lottery pick.
Keiton Page, Oklahoma State
The senior guard is one of the deadliest 3-point shooters in the Big 12. KU fans know; he knocked down seven 3s against the Jayhawks in their last meeting, at Stillwater.
- Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner, Baylor
Who doesn't want to see this center for the Baylor women's basketball team dunk? The junior is a top candidate for women's player-of-the-year honors.
Royce White, Iowa State
The do-it-all big man has the court vision and ball-handling skills of a point guard and the size of a post player.
Phil Pressey, Missouri
The sophomore guard is developing into a good distributor and a strong defender.
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
The senior guard has completely reinvented his offensive game this season, slashing to the basket.
- Marcus Denmon
Marcus Denmon, Missouri
The athletic guard out of Hogan Prep knows how to score efficiently.
Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
The 6-foot-7-inch freshman forward possesses physical tools that make NBA general managers drool. But he needs to work on his efficiency.
Robert Lewandowski, Texas Tech
The senior forward from Overland Park gets a last hurrah in front of the hometown crowd.
J'Covan Brown, Texas
The Longhorns' junior guard has become an explosive scorer, leading the conference with 20 points per game.
Kim English, Missouri
The senior guard does what it takes to win games. He has improved his shot selection and has become one of the better long-range shooters in the league.
Scott Christopherson, Iowa State
The pasty Cyclone is a threat to get hot and torch any team in the league with his 3-point shooting.
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State
K-State's junior guard has been consistent on an inconsistent team.
Tyra White, Texas A&M
Ms. Big Shot has had a solid but unspectacular senior year. She's still pegged as a top prospect in the WNBA draft.
Two good players on bad teams
- Steven Pledger and Elston Turner
Steven Pledger, Oklahoma
Elston Turner, Texas A&M