The University of Missouri takes its final Big 12 basketball bow this week at the Sprint Center and Municipal Auditorium. This year may also mark the beginning of the end of the Big 12's tournament presence in Kansas City, thanks to Mizzou's jump to the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers' carpetbagging leaves the Big 12 with no schools in the Show-Me State (and conference leaders struggling to justify keeping its big event in a state with no members). The conference has already pulled the women's tournament from Kansas City, starting next year, when it moves to Dallas and then, in 2014, to Oklahoma City.
"Kansas City continues to be a valuable partner of the Big 12," interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement.
Thanks, Chuck, for the beautiful love letter.
The men's basketball tournament is scheduled for the Sprint Center through 2014. After that, the future is unclear. So in an effort to celebrate the tournament while we still have it, The Pitch has compiled this unofficial program to the hardwood action: stats and opinions, along with suggestions on whom to watch, whom to watch for, and where to watch if you can't get into the Sprint Center or Municipal Auditorium.
15 Players to Watch
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The 6-foot-10-inch forward is in the hunt to be named national player of the year. He's also a top-five pick in this June's NBA draft.
Perry Jones III, Baylor
The forward's stock has dropped some, but he's still considered a lottery pick.
Keiton Page, Oklahoma State
The senior guard is one of the deadliest 3-point shooters in the Big 12. KU fans know; he knocked down seven 3s against the Jayhawks in their last meeting, at Stillwater.
Brittney Griner, Baylor
Who doesn't want to see this center for the Baylor women's basketball team dunk? The junior is a top candidate for women's player-of-the-year honors.
Royce White, Iowa State
The do-it-all big man has the court vision and ball-handling skills of a point guard and the size of a post player.
Phil Pressey, Missouri
The sophomore guard is developing into a good distributor and a strong defender.
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
The senior guard has completely reinvented his offensive game this season, slashing to the basket.
Marcus Denmon, Missouri
The athletic guard out of Hogan Prep knows how to score efficiently.
Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
The 6-foot-7-inch freshman forward possesses physical tools that make NBA general managers drool. But he needs to work on his efficiency.
Robert Lewandowski, Texas Tech
The senior forward from Overland Park gets a last hurrah in front of the hometown crowd.
J'Covan Brown, Texas
The Longhorns' junior guard has become an explosive scorer, leading the conference with 20 points per game.
Kim English, Missouri
The senior guard does what it takes to win games. He has improved his shot selection and has become one of the better long-range shooters in the league.
Scott Christopherson, Iowa State
The pasty Cyclone is a threat to get hot and torch any team in the league with his 3-point shooting.
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State
K-State's junior guard has been consistent on an inconsistent team.
Tyra White, Texas A&M
Ms. Big Shot has had a solid but unspectacular senior year. She's still pegged as a top prospect in the WNBA draft.
Two good players on bad teams
Steven Pledger, Oklahoma
Elston Turner, Texas A&M
7 Unbeatable Tattoos
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
T-Rob might have more ink than anyone in the league. He pays tribute to his mother and grandparents, who died last season, with a tattoo depicting a gravesite. He also has a tat for his cousin, who was shot and killed — "R.I.P. Ali 1991-2007" — and an inspirational tat that reads, "Success is nothing without failure."
Marcus Denmon, Missouri
A scroll etched on Denmon's left biceps reads, "That which does not kill you only makes you stronger." The motto defines Denmon's life, especially after his 20-year-old cousin, Marion, was shot and killed in Kansas City December 3, 2010.
Royce White, Iowa State
The inked-up Cyclone wears his pride for his home state with a Minnesota Twins logo on his left arm. On his right, there's a lion eating a man.
Kat Steward, Kansas
The best ink isn't just on the court. It's also in the stands. Steward's back tattoo — a mural of Allen Fieldhouse and the iconic Jayhawk — is an impressive display of loyalty.
13 Essential Web Destinations
Fake Dan Beebe's Twitter (@danbeebe)
The imagined thoughts of the cranky former Big 12 commissioner. Example: "I don't want to tell ol' Chuck how to do his job, but if Dan were still in charge, there'd be a truck on fire at the Big 12 Tourney."
Prevail and Ride (prevailandride.blogspot.com)
Prepare for penises. Lots and lots of penises. Prevail and Ride's MS Paint drawings of "Aggy" are consistently hilarious.
Shaggy Bevo (shaggybevo.com)
The original home of Prevail and Ride's MS Paint drawings, Shaggy Bevo is still one of the finest trash-talking sports boards.
Wide Right & Natty Lite
Named as a tribute to Iowa State's history of missed field goals and drunk coaches, WRNL gives a self-effacing look at the Cyclone Nation.
This KU message board is like a northern version of Shaggy Bevo (hating Tigers instead of Aggies). A highlight of this year: Photoshop fun with a photo of Missouri center Steve Moore flopping.
Gabe DeArmond's Twitter (@GabeDeArmond)
PowerMizzou.com's Gabe DeArmond provides real-time news and analysis on the Tigers.
Fake Jeff Withey's Twitter (@fakejeffwithey)
The fake Twitter account for the Kansas center gives real-time game updates with a dose of good-natured sexual harassment (#witheybeingwithey). Witheys both real and fake reportedly met after the Border Showdown and hit it off.
Chunkles22's YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/chunkles22)
Yes, the videos mostly celebrate K-State football, but the Bill Snyder Dance Machine is a fantastic techno Nintendo trip.
Cowboys Ride for Free
Oklahoma State's SB Nation fan site has news and analysis, but the embarrassing GIF of Tyshawn Taylor's mom dancing is priceless.
Land of Thieves
Oklahoma fans' no-holds-barred message board.
I Am the 12th Man (iamthe12thman.com)
Yell leaders have to gather somewhere to talk about cleaning up bat poop and moving to the SEC.
Double T Nation (doubletnation.com)
If Red Raider fans can't gather at a bar in KC, they can at least get together in the virtual realm.
Our Daily Bears (ourdailybears.com)
12 Faces of Frank Martin
Tallest Players (Men)
Jeff Withey, Kansas, 7 feet
Jordan Henriquez, Kansas State, 6 feet 11
Perry Jones III, Baylor, 6 feet 11
Philip Jurick, Oklahoma State, 6 feet 11
Jordan Railey, Iowa State, 6 feet 11
Robert Lewandowski, Texas Tech, 6 feet 10
Thomas Robinson, Kansas, 6 feet 10
Clint Chapman, Texas, 6 feet 10
Adrian Diaz, Kansas State, 6 feet 10
Anthony Jones, Baylor, 6 feet 10
Casey Arent, Oklahoma, 6 feet 10
Mason Cox, Oklahoma State, 6 feet 10
Keith Davis, Texas A&M, 6 feet 10
Kader Tapsoba, Texas Tech, 6 feet 10
Shortest Players (Men)
Kevin Wagner, Texas Tech, 5 feet 8
Keiton Page, Oklahoma State, 5 feet 9
Tavon Sledge, Iowa State, 5 feet 9
Luke Adams, Texas Tech, 5 feet 9
Pierre Jackson, Baylor, 5 feet 10
James Fraschilla, Oklahoma State, 5 feet 10
Phil Pressey, Missouri, 5 feet 10
Javarez Willis, Texas Tech, 5 feet 11
Blake McDonald, Texas A&M, 5 feet 11
Angel Rodriguez, Kansas State, 5 feet 11
Naadir Tharpe, Kansas, 5 feet 11
Niko Roberts, Kansas, 5 feet 11
T.J. Franklin, Oklahoma, 5 feet 11
Aaron Law, Iowa State, 5 feet 11
Tallest Players (Women)
Brittney Griner, Baylor, 6 feet 8
Anna Prins, Iowa State, 6 feet 7
Rachel Mitchell, Texas A&M, 6 feet 7
Vicky McIntyre, Oklahoma State, 6 feet 6
Nicole Griffin, Oklahoma, 6 feet 6
Kendra Frazier, Missouri, 6 feet 5
Haley Schneider, Texas Tech, 6 feet 5
Karla Gilbert, Texas A&M, 6 feet 5
Jelena Cerina, Oklahoma, 6 feet 5
Sune Agbuke, Baylor, 6 feet 4
Ashley Gayle, Texas, 6 feet 4
Cokie Reed, Texas, 6 feet 4
Kelsey Bone, Texas A&M, 6 feet 4
Katherine Zander, Oklahoma, 6 feet 4
Shortest Players (Women)
Angel Goodrich, Kansas, 5 feet 4
Shanice McKoy, Texas, 5 feet 5
Tiffany Bias, Oklahoma State, 5 feet 6
Carissa Crutchfield, Oklahoma State, 5 feet 6
Sydney Carter, Texas A&M, 5 feet 6
Cassie Peoples, Texas, 5 feet 6
Monique Smalls, Texas Tech, 5 feet 6
Elly Arganbright, Iowa State, 5 feet 6
Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma, 5 feet 7
Yvonne Anderson, Texas, 5 feet 7
Kyley Simmons, Missouri, 5 feet 7
Natalie Knight, Kansas, 5 feet 7
Haley Texada, Kansas State, 5 feet 7
Mariah White, Kansas State, 5 feet 7
12 Famous Alumni We Hope to See
Sammy Ryan, Kansas
Kansas' favorite porn star got comps to the Border War a couple of years ago. We hope she makes it to the Sprint Center.
T. Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State
Maybe ol' moneybags will be hobnobbing with fellow Cowboy alums Garth Brooks and Cerner CEO Neal Patterson.
Brad Leland, Texas Tech
The Friday Night Lights actor (Buddy!) needs to give his Red Raiders a clear-eyes, full-hearts pep talk.
Jon Hamm, Missouri
Anyone who has watched a Missouri basketball game has seen Hamm (Mad Men's Don Draper) in those awful "Miz-Zou" commercials. Now he's the pouty-faced Mizzou fan in the photo meme after the final Border War game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Olivia Munn, Oklahoma
The comedian dressed up as slave Princess Leia for G4. There's really nothing more to say.
Jason Sudeikis, Kansas
Speaking of the meme, Sudeikis, wearing a KU cap, is all smiles in the photo. Could Sudeikis and poker buddy Paul Rudd be Rock Chalking?
Eric Stonestreet, Kansas State
There isn't a prouder celebrity Cat backer than Stonestreet, an Emmy winner for his role on the ABC comedy Modern Family.
Jeff Dunham and Ken Starr, Baylor
Two solid reasons to root against the Bears.
Rip Torn, Texas A&M
Did someone mention pep talks? Dodgeball's Patches O'Houlihan needs to throw some wrenches to fire up the Aggie ballers.
Wes Anderson, Texas
If only the quirky director and pal Owen Wilson would hook 'em in Kansas City.
Cy, Iowa State
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley isn't coming to the games (we think), so the best the Cyclones can do is a giant red bird.
10 Former Players and Coaches to Watch For
Danny Manning, Kansas
Now an assistant coach at KU, Manning won only one Big Eight Tournament Championship (1986). But he has something few have: the 1988 National Championship.
Doug Gottlieb, Oklahoma State
The ESPN analyst is one of the best passers in Big 12 history and used to hold the record for assists in a tournament game (14 in the 2000 tournament).
Steve Henson, Oklahoma
Kansas State's all-time leader in assists now sits on the Oklahoma Sooners' bench as an assistant for Lon Kruger. In the 1988 Big Eight Tournament Championship game, Henson's Wildcats fell to the Sooners.
Jon Sundvold, Missouri
The former Mizzou shooting guard can now be heard on Big 12 broadcasts. As a player, Sundvold won one Big Eight Tournament Championship (1982).
Armstrong has been calling Big 12 basketball games since the conference's inception. He'll always be remembered for his pairing with the late Paul Splittorff.
Bob Knight, Texas Tech
The volatile former Texas Tech and Indiana coach doesn't throw chairs anymore. Instead, he slings idiotic quips on Big 12 broadcasts with Brent Musburger.
Darren Kent, Kansas State
The former Wildcat forward is now a graduate manager on Frank Martin's staff.
The voice of the Chiefs is calling Big 12 games with former Indiana star Miles Simon.
If you see Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, ask him why Texas A&M and Missouri are paying only $12 million apiece to leave the conference.
Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
The second-year coach and former Iowa State star is known as "the Mayor" to Cyclone fans. He has pieced together a top-seeded team from big-time transfers.
Most Likely to Get T'd Up
Thomas Robinson (Kansas) 4
Markel Brown (Oklahoma State) 3
A.J. Walton (Baylor) 3
Ricardo Ratliffe (Missouri) 2
Thomas Gipson (Kansas State) 2
J'Covan Brown (Texas) 1
Alexis Wangmene (Texas) 1
Martavious Irving (Kansas State) 1
Kim English (Missouri) 1
Jordan Tolbert (Texas Tech) 1
Cezar Guerrero (Oklahoma State) 1
Le'Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State) 1
Jamar Samuels (Kansas State) 1
Hothead Hall of Fame
Brittney Griner, Baylor
Griner has thrown a punch before.
Frank Martin, Kansas State
Come on — dude could get tossed from an Al Pacino movie.
11 Smart Players (First Team Academic All-Big 12 Men's Basketball Team)
Fred Ellis, Baylor (master's degree in sports management)
Scott Christopherson, Iowa State (finance)
Melvin Ejim, Iowa State (open option – LAS)
Bubu Palo, Iowa State (finance)
Jordan Juenemann, Kansas (exercise science)
Victor Ojeleye, Kansas State (accounting-finance)
Jarrett Sutton, Missouri (health education)
Keiton Page, Oklahoma State (physical education)
Darrell Williams, Oklahoma State (university studies)
J'Covan Brown, Texas (education)
Robert Lewandowski, Texas Tech (exercise and sport sciences)
(Players listed had a 3.20 or higher grade-point average.)
No Ticket? No Problem
Missouri: Westport Flea Market
(817 Westport Road, 816-931-1986)
Kansas City Tigers met at the Flea for watch parties during the season. It's cash only here.
Kansas State: Mission Theatre
(5909 Johnson Drive, Mission, 913-254-3380)
(5401 Johnson Drive, Mission, 913-403-8571)
Kansas City Cat backers hit these purple-Kansas-friendly bars for games.
Kansas: the Cashew
(2000 Grand, 816-221-5858)
1310 Grand, 816-268-2260)
KU fans won't have far to go to find Rock Chalk friends. Jayhawks leaving the Sprint Center just have to cross Grand to get to Johnny's. And outside the busy Power & Light District, the Cashew is a KU refuge.
Texas A&M: Tower Tavern
(401 East 31st Street, 816-931-9300)
Buffalo Wild Wings
(7030 West 105th Street, Overland Park, 913-341-9464)
Where does the 12th Man drink? Aggies like Martini Corner, when they aren't munching on chain wings.
Oklahoma: Saint's Pub + Patio
(9720 Quivira, Lenexa, 913-492-3900)
Thursdays, the drafts are 75 cents. That's good for a "Boomer Sooner!"
Iowa State: Kelly's Westport Inn
(500 Westport Road, 816-561-5800)
Dating back to the Big Eight days, Cyclone fans made this Westport institution their own. The Irish pub returns the love with I-State banners.
Texas: Wil Jenny's Tables and Tap
(6700 West 135th Street, Overland Park, 913-897-1114)
Deep in the heart of Johnson County, Longhorns feel at home at this steak joint.
Oklahoma State: Fox and Hound
(10428 Metcalf, Overland Park, 913-649-1700)
Cowboys and cowgirls party here (as evidenced by the booty-dancing photos on the bar's website).
Baylor: Your house
Sorry, KC Bears. Looks like you're on the outside looking in at this party.
Texas Tech: Your dreams
Red Raider fans, we're told there hasn't been enough interest in game watches. Makes sense with only one conference win.