Texas vs. KSU: 3 bold predictions in Big 12 Tourney opener

Texas basketball is riding some momentum upon the beginning of their quest to defend the Big 12 Tournament crown in Kansas City, MO, this week.

Max Abmas, Texas basketball
Max Abmas, Texas basketball / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas basketball and head coach Rodney Terry tip off their journey to defend the Big 12 Tournament crown on March 13 against the 10-seed Kansas State Wildcats.

Terry and the Longhorns finished the regular season with a 9-9 record in Big 12 play, earning the seven-seed in the conference tournament this week. Texas ended the regular season on a high note, winning three of its last four contests, including an impressive victory in the finale on March 9 at the Moody Center over the Oklahoma Sooners.

Texas basketball enters the Big 12 Tournament as a seven-seed against 10-seed Kansas State

The Longhorns have a difficult road ahead to try and defend its Big 12 Tournament crown. On its side of the bracket, Texas has multiple teams ranked in the AP top 15, including the two-seed Iowa State Cyclones and three-seed Baylor Bears.

Texas's first matchup, against Kansas State, won't be anything to take lightly either. While Kansas State struggled down the stretch during the regular season, losing nine of its last 13 in Big 12 play, the Wildcats looked tough in its finale upset win over Iowa State at home on March 9.

Kansas State also played the Longhorns close when the two teams met in the regular season at the Moody Center a few weeks ago in an eventual 62-56 win for Texas.

On the line for the Longhorns in the Big 12 Tournament is its projected seeding entering Selection Sunday. If Texas wins a few games in the Big 12 Tournament this week, it will boost its resume for the NCAA Tournament.

The latest ESPN Bracketology from Joe Lunardi on March 13 projects the Longhorns as an eight-seed in the Midwest Region for the Big Dance.

Kansas State, meanwhile, needs at least a couple of wins in the Big 12 Tournament to even have a shot on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament.

Texas and Kansas State tip off their contest in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament at 6 p.m. CT at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, MO, on March 13.

Here are three bold predictions for Texas-Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament.

Dillon Mitchell gets his first double-double since early February with 15 points and 10 boards vs. K-State

In the regular season's first few months, sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell was a double-double machine. Mitchell registered a team-high eight double-doubles between the start of the season and early February in Big 12 play.

But the double-double well has run dry for Mitchell in the last month and a half or so. Mitchell's struggles scoring the basketball and lack of impact on the glass have caused this season-high stretch of nine straight without a double-double.

The expanded shooting range and playmaking ability we saw from Mitchell in the first few months of the regular season has shrunk in the last few weeks. In the last 10 games, Mitchell is shooting under 20 percent from the field on attempts greater than eight feet from the basket.

In the regular season finale win over Oklahoma, it looked like Mitchell started to find his rhythm and confidence again on the offensive end of the floor. Mitchell registered 14 points on five made field goal attempts in the 14-point win over the Sooners last weekend, two of which came on shots outside of the paint.

Kansas State has multiple lengthy wings and forwards that can score the basketball and rebound, including sophomore Arthur Kaluma and senior David N'Guessan. The Longhorns are the smaller team with the traditional lineup combinations Terry and Staff like to run in Big 12 play this season.

If Mitchell carries that confidence into the Big 12 Tournament, he'll make the offense that much more dangerous and versatile. Texas also needs the length, rebounding, and strong on-ball defense that Mitchell brings to the frontcourt rotation.