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KU is Big 12 tournament favorite

POSTED March 8, 2011 10:36 p.m.
AP Photo/

Kansas’ Marcus Morris pulls down a rebound ov...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Top-seeded Kansas goes into the Big 12 tournament favored to win but with much to lose.
Colorado and Nebraska, in the final hours of their Big 12 membership, both have much to gain.
For fired-but-still-working Pat Knight, the four-day event in downtown Kansas City is an opportunity to extend his time as Texas Tech’s coach by at least one game.
And besides all that, the last Big 12 tournament that will actually have 12 teams should be wide open.
“Certainly this year, there’s so many teams out there with so much to play for, it should be as competitive as any tournament we’ve had,” said Kansas coach Bill Self.
The No. 2 Jayhawks (29-2), the conference regular-season champions for the seventh year in a row, figure to already own a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. But if they should stumble and lose on Thursday morning to the winner of Wednesday’s Nebraska-Oklahoma State match, they could get pushed down a line, depending on what happens at other conference tourneys.
Knight was fired by Texas Tech on Monday after going 50-60 in three seasons. The Red Raiders (13-18) will have a bevy of seniors line up against sixth-seeded Missouri (22-9) in the last game on Wednesday night. As soon as they lose, Knight and all his staff are unemployed.
The favored Jayhawks lost only to Kansas State and Texas in the regular season and are powered by the Morris twins. Markieff led the league in rebounds and Marcus was Big 12 player of the year.
Colorado (19-12), which is headed to the Pac-10 next year is led by all-conference swing man Alec Burks and could nail down an NCAA bid with a victory over No. 12 seed Iowa State (16-15) on Wednesday. The winner of that one advances to meet fourth-seeded Kansas State (22-9), which has won eight of its last nine and comes in as the league’s hottest team.
Coming out of high school in Grandview, Mo., in the Kansas City area, Burks was barely even noticed by Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State. But after a breakout sophomore season when he averaged almost 20 points, the smooth 6-foot-6 playmaker is making a triumphant return to his home area.
If the Buffs win, they’ll face a Kansas State team they swept in the regular season but is hardly the same now. After switching offenses and finding their touch, the Wildcats won their last six and had victories over Kansas and No. 10 Texas. Fueled by all-conference senior guard Jacob Pullen, the Wildcats are finally playing like the team that was predicted to win the regular-season race. Pullen needs 62 points to overtake Mike Evans for Kansas State’s career scoring record.
“We’re just going there to try to win a game and improve our (NCAA) resume,” said coach Frank Martin.
Kansas, No. 10 Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas State are the top four seeds, meaning they get first-round byes and will have to play only three times in three days to capture the title.

All-Big 12 Conference basketball selections
by The Associated Press from the 2010-11 season
FIRST TEAM

Alec Burks, Colorado, So., 6-6, 195, Grandview, Mo.
LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor, Sr., 6-4, 200, Monroe, La.
Jordan Hamilton, Texas, So., 6-7, 220, Compton, Calif.
Marcus Morris, Kansas, Jr., 6-9, 235, Philadelphia, Pa.
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State, Sr., 6-0, 200, Maywood, Ill.
SECOND TEAM
Marcus Denmon, Missouri, Jr., 6-3, 185, Kansas City, Mo.
Diante Garrett, Iowa St., Sr., 6-4, 190, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Khris Middleton, Texas A&M, So., 6-7, 215, North Charleston, S.C.
Markieff Morris, Kansas, Jr., 6-10, 245, Philadelphia, Pa.
Tristan Thompson, Texas, Fr., 6-8, 225, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
HONORABLE MENTION
Laurence Bowers, Missouri; Cade Davis, Oklahoma; Cory Higgins, Colorado; Lance Jeter, Nebraska; Perry Jones, Baylor; Marshall Moses, Oklahoma St.; Keiton Page, Oklahoma St.; Tyrel Reed, Kansas; Brad Reese, Texas Tech.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Bill Self, Kansas.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Morris, Kansas.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Tristan Thompson, Texas.


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