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Big 12 Tournament pairings point to powerful Thursday


Baylor avoids top seed Kansas’ side of the bracket.

Iowa State-Oklahoma State quarterfinal is NCAA Tournament-caliber matchup.

Baylor earned the No. 3 seed for the Big 12 Tournament, allowing the 11th-ranked Bears to avoid top-ranked Kansas’ side of the bracket.

Not that Baylor will have it easy next week in Kansas City, Mo. The Bears open with a late Thursday quarterfinal against sixth seed Kansas State, a bubble team desperate for a big victory to nail down a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

After that, blocking Baylor’s path to the championship game will probably be second seed West Virginia, with whom the Bears split two games.

The tournament will open Wednesday with slumping TCU, which has fallen out of the NCAA conversation, against Oklahoma in the 8 vs. 9 game. Then Texas Tech will face Texas in the 7 vs. 10 game. The Horned Frogs and Red Raiders probably need to reach the title game to revive any flagging tournament hopes.

Thursday’s quarterfinals could be riveting, starting with an excellent NCAA Tournament-caliber game, No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State, a pair of 20-game winners. The survivor will probably see Kansas in a semifinal Friday night.

The championship will be at 5:10 p.m. Saturday. All games will be televised by one of the ESPN networks.

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