The first place the eyes wander in Big 12 Tournament seeding is the bottom.
Three of the four teams that are playing in the first round on Wednesday at Sprint Center played in the NCAA Tournament last year.
The No. 9 seed, Oklahoma, reached the Final Four.
Seventh-seeded Texas Tech and No. 10 seed Texas also had at-large tickets punched in 2016.
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How quickly things change.
The Sooners lost three starters, including national player of the year Buddy Hield, from the regional championship team, and are finishing the season without injured top scorer Jordan Woodard.
Texas overhauled its roster in a bigger way and was left without much firepower. The Longhorns, picked third in the preseason, finished last in the Big 12 at 4-14 and 10-21 overall, the program’s lowest marks in their Big 12 history.
Tech, which came to Kansas City as the seventh seed a year ago, doesn’t carry the same resume this year and is an NCAA Tournament longshot.
But any one of the bottom four seeds, including No. 8 TCU, is entirely capable of success in Sprint Center.
Start with the Sooners, who won their final three home games, and led top-ranked Kansas by 12 with 10 minutes remaining in Lawrence before falling.
The Longhorns have knocked off a couple of NCAA-bounds teams, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, and have one of the nation’s top freshmen in Jarrett Allen.
Only once in the past seven tournaments has a team that won on the first day posted a victory in the next day’s quarterfinals. That was Baylor, a No. 7 seed in 2014, which reached the title game before falling to Iowa State.
What appears to be true about this year’s tournament is fewer NCAA at-large teams in the mix and only one — sixth-seeded Kansas State — as a true bubble team.
The Wildcats’ 2-0 record on the final week of the regular season, improved their at-large chances, but Kansas State will have the most at stake in Kansas City. Not only with its postseason hopes but perhaps the future of coach Bruce Weber, who in his fifth year will be looking to guide his team to the NCAA for the first time since 2014.
The Big 12 has sent seven teams to the NCAA in each of the past three years, but this year has produced locks in the first five seeds — Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State — and K-State’s maybe.
Kansas is seeking a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and over the past several seasons its success in Kansas City has been tied to its Big 12 Tournament seeding.
KU has won 13 straight Big 12 regular-season titles. But over the past decade only in the years when it has won the tournament — 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016 — have the Jayhawks been an NCAA top seed.
No team below a No. 4 seed has won the Big 12 Tournament, which means no team has won four games in four days. The chore is a far-fetched notion, but so was the idea of a Final Four team in 2016 arriving as a No. 9 seed this season.