Big 12 logjam madness

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Surely, the term March Madness originated when NCAA Tournament selection committee members tried to sort out seeds for three college basketball schools with such equal resumes as the Big 12’s best teams.

They twisted the numbers this way and that until they reached the brink of madness, and then they settled it with rocks, paper, scissors, and the term March Madness was born.

Face it, anybody who attempts to make a strong case for one of the three Big 12 schools over the other two is doing so more with heart than head.

The scenario that best could bunch the schools together came to fruition when Kansas and Oklahoma didn’t win a game in Oklahoma City and Missouri won three.

Kansas (25-7) won the regular season. Missouri (28-6) won the conference tournament, and Oklahoma (27-5) has the highest ranking in the polls.

Including tourney results, their Big 12 records: Kansas 14-3, Missouri 15-4, Oklahoma 13-4. One of the Sooners’ losses came without the nation’s best player, Blake Griffin, and another came with him missing most of the game. The committee considers such things.

Records in the last 10 games: Missouri 8-2, Kansas 7-3, Oklahoma 6-4.

Kansas had both the best victory (Washington) and worst loss (UMass) in nonconference play.

Even if you want to call all three Big 12 schools No. 3 seeds, that doesn’t solve the problem of which to send to Kansas City, the closest, most desirable site for all three.

Each of the eight sites gets two teams seeded somewhere from Nos. 1 through 4, and there are virtual locks for cities: Pittsburgh and Louisville in Dayton; North Carolina and Duke in Greensboro; UConn and Villanova in Philadelphia; Washington in Portland; Michigan State in Minneapolis; Memphis in Kansas City; Gonzaga in Portland or Boise.

It’s a given one Big 12 team will play in Kansas City and seems likely another will go to Minneapolis. The third could go to Boise, Miami or Portland.

The notion that Kansas could go to Kansas City because it has the best drawing power carries no weight because the Sprint Center site is sold out.

If the committee does consider drawing power, sending the Jayhawks to the Metrodome in Minneapolis would make the most sense since plenty of tickets are available, and Kansas fans travel so well.

Wherever Kansas plays, even if it’s in the Sprint Center, the home-court advantage that Allen Fieldhouse gave the Jayhawks won’t be duplicated. They didn’t respond well to a partially empty Ford Center in an 11:30 a.m. game against Baylor.

“Maybe the first two games of the NCAA Tournament are going to be like those games,” freshman Marcus Morris said. “Half empty. Half your fans. Half the other team’s fans. I think just not having an atmosphere like we’re used to made us come out slow, which gave them a big lead. That’s not the reason we lost. I’m not saying that. But it’s just different. It’s just different from playing in 16,300 and playing away where it’s sold out to going to where it’s half empty.”

Doing anything for a second time is easier. The Baylor experience could benefit the Jayhawks in the tournament, wherever they might be sent.