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Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship

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Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament

Built in 1997 on the bones of the old Big Eight tournament, the Big 12 tourney is an annual exercise in determining whether the conference's automatic invitation to the Big Dance goes to Iowa State or to Kansas. That's only partly a joke — for years, the Cyclones and the Jayhawks have combined for a majority of the conference tourney titles. The Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, has hosted the tournament almost every year since 2008. The city was the longtime host of the Big Eight tournament, and the arena now seats 18,500 fans for basketball games.

Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament History

The Big Eight tournament ran from 1977 until 1996 and featured such college hoops luminaries as Danny Manning, Rolando Blackman and Wayman Tisdale. After the Big 12 Conference was founded in 1994, the eight members of the former Big Eight Conference joined with Southwest Conference schools Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas Tech to form the new Big 12 Conference, which began competition in 1996.

Although the tournament may not produce a wide variety of champions, there have been some fireworks along the way. In the very first Big 12 tournament, in 1997, the Missouri Tigers, seeded 10th out of 11 teams, knocked off the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners, falling in the championship game to — who else? — the Kansas Jayhawks. In the 2007 final, the Texas Longhorns, behind future NBA superstar Kevin Durant, bolted out to a 32-10 lead over Kansas. The Jayhawks staged the biggest rally in the program's history, eventually winning in overtime. Durant led both teams with 37 points and was named tourney MVP despite the loss.

In 2019, No. 5 seed Iowa State, just 9-9 in conference play, toppled No. 1 seed Kansas State in the semifinal and then bounced No. 3 seed Kansas in the championship game, 78-66. Virginia transfer Marial Shayok led the Cyclones with 15 points in the final, and Nick Weiler-Babb filled the stat sheet with nine points, eight rebounds and five assists.