Editor’s Note: This article was completed as an assignment for a class in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Today kicks off the first part of the Big 12 Conference Championship tournament. After an exciting season filled with upsets, high powered offenses and packed houses, this tournament should be a must watch for any college basketball fan. The question is, however, who should we be looking at when the tournament begins on both the men’s and women’s side?
Kicking off the list for the men’s side is Kansas’ power forward Thomas Robinson. Robinson is currently on the short list for National Player of the Year. Robinson was also named the All-Big 12 Player of the Year as well as a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection.
Staying in the state of Kansas for the next player on the list, the spotlight moves to Manhattan where K-State’s Rodney McGruder has been carrying much of the scoring load for the Wildcats. The Wildcats will play Baylor at 11 a.m. on Thursday in their first game and are going to have to count on McGruder to put up points. McGruder was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team.
Missouri guard Marcus Denmon is paving the way for one of Missouri’s best seasons in school history, averaging 18 points per game. Denmon will have to stay hot for Missouri if they hope to win the tournament this year. Denmon was named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
Iowa State is having one of their best seasons, as a result of the play from sophomore Royce White. White was named All-Big 12 Newcomer of the Year along with All-Big 12 First Team.
Texas’ J’Covan Brown rounds off our list. In his first year as a starter, Brown led the Big 12 in scoring with 20 points per game. The sophomore was named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
On the women’s side, Baylor’s Brittney Griner is first on our list. The 6-foot-8-inch junior is currently on the short list for Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year. Baylor is currently undefeated going into the tournament, and Griner’s 23.3-point, 9.6-rebound and 5.1-block per game average is a big reason why. Look for Griner to have a big tournament if Baylor continues their perfect season.
Kansas’ junior point guard Angel Goodrich is currently averaging 12.9 points and leading the Big 12 with 7.4 assists per game. Goodrich is on the list for the Nancy Lieberman Award which is given to the nation’s top point guard every year. Her leadership and ball-handling ability will be crucial if Kansas plans to have a successful tournament.
Rounding off our list is Iowa State’s junior Chelsea Poppens. Poppens currently leads the Big 12 in rebounds averaging 10.9 per game. She is also ranked seventh in scoring with an average of 14.5 points per game. Iowa State has the fourth seed in the tournament and they will play K-State in their first game.