College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla will broadcast five of the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament games, working with Brent Musburger and reporter Holly Rowe. They will call the two early Thursday games on ESPN2, the semifinals Friday night on the Big 12 Network (including KOCB-34) and the final at 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. The remaining games will be broadcast by Dave Armstrong and Reid Gettys on the Big 12 Network (including KOCB-34).
Fraschilla discussed the tournament in a phone interview Tuesday:
Q: Can a dark horse team win the Big 12 Tournament?
A: I think it’s the most competitive tournament from 1 to 6 or 7 (seeds) that I have seen in the last few years. Normally the tournament is either dominated by a great team like Kansas or a great player like Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin. But this year there is so much parity from 1 to 6 or 7, especially now that Myck Kabongo is back playing for Texas. I wouldn’t consider Oklahoma State, Iowa State or Oklahoma dark horses — they all have quality wins against teams at the top of the league — but there is no question that a fourth or fifth seed could win this tournament. I think Iowa State is a dark horse because they play the most unique style of anybody in the conference. They shoot more 3s than any other power conference team in the country with relativity good accuracy. Their style will cause Oklahoma problems in the opening round and certainly anybody else they play if they advance.
How do you size up Oklahoma State’s play?
I think Oklahoma State is a team that if they play to their capability can get to the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight. If you follow the Big 12 this year, you realize how good they’ve gotten, but I’m not sure nationally — although they have shown up in all the major polls — that anybody realizes how good they are. First of all, they are very underrated defensively. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country because they have sneaky length at all five starting spots. They are long and athletic. They are committed to defending. That’s a given even before you talk about how good they can be offensively on a given night with guys like (Markel) Brown, (Le’Bryan) Nash, (Marcus) Smart and (Phil) Forte. I think they are a national dark horse in the NCAA tournament.
How many Big 12 teams will be selected for the NCAA Tournament?
I think it is solidly five right now with Baylor still having some more work to do. They took a big step Saturday by beating Kansas, and they have another chance to add another win over a ranked team if they can beat Oklahoma State. This is what I would call for Baylor an opportunity week. Rather than playing teams in the bottom of the conference, they’ve already gotten a chance to knock off one of the top teams in the country in Kansas with one or two more top teams standing in their way in order for them to get to the Big 12 final. I think a win over the Cowboys would certainly strengthen their rèsumè.