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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Big 12 has chance to assert dominance

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The Big 12 again has seven teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Regular-season champion Kansas is a No. 2 seed, and the No. 3 seeds in three of the four regions are from the Big 12 — tournament champion Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. The league also has the nation’s top cumulative RPI and five top-20 teams in this season’s final AP poll.

“We’re arguably the best conference in the country,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said Monday. “Still, we need to validate that with some tournament wins and some teams advancing.”

This is the second year in a row with seven NCAA teams, making the Big 12 the only league that can boast 14 bids in that span. But only Baylor and Iowa State made it past the opening weekend of the tournament last March, then both lost in the Sweet 16.

“I think it is time for our league to step up, and last year was an off year, and we certainly contributed to that by losing in the first weekend, the second game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We do need to do something as a league to validate what everybody else has said about us all year long.”

The Jayhawks are the only Big 12 team to make the NCAA Final Four the past 10 seasons, beating Memphis for the national title in 2008. They lost to Kentucky in the 2012 championship game.

Big 12 teams made up half the Final Four in 2002 and 2003, with Kansas in both times — joined by Oklahoma in 2002 and Texas the next year. Oklahoma State got to the Final Four in 2004.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team is in its third Big 12 season, isn’t sure the league has to prove anything in the NCAA Tournament.

“Sometimes what gets lost in the excitement of this month is that we’ve already played 30 games. We’re the No. 1 RPI league in the country,” Huggins said.

“It’d be great if four of our teams end up in the Sweet 16, or seven of them, really, but ... everybody says well, let’s see what happens with the test of time. I think we have kind of shown what we do over the test of time.”

Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford, like the rest of the coaches, takes pride in the Big 12 doing well in March. But he doesn’t believe the NCAA Tournament is a true indication of how strong a team or a league is based on what happens in those games.

“I don’t care what happens from this point ... we have the best league in America from top to bottom,” Ford said.

“It would nice to see our league take a step forward,” Self said. “I also think this. I don’t think you take away that our league’s had a great year. Just like was the SEC the best league in football this past year? Absolutely. They had a bad bowl season.”

Comments

John Pritchett 7 years, 6 months ago

Prediction. If the Big 12 doesn't get at least 2 teams in the Sweet 16, we'll be reading an article on this site about how overrated the league was this year, just like last year.

The reality is, it's all about matchups. The Big 12 teams, down the line, got tough matchups this year. I hope we advance several teams, but if we don't, it won't be because the conference was overrated. It'll be because each team either had an off night or played a better team. But I agree with these Big 12 coaches, the league has nothing to prove. I hope I don't have to read another article about how KU's conference title streak is not that significant because they have "weak" competition. This league was a meat grinder this year.

Reggie Flenory 7 years, 6 months ago

what scares me about the big 12 is we beat up on each other all year long it's like playing your next door neighbor in basketball every day you guys played well against each other but you don't know how really good you are until you play teams outside of your conference that you're not that familiar with that is going to be the true test we get up for each other and play our best basketball against each other or what do we do we play teams that we don't have as much history with

Benny Armstrong 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree with the basic idea of your argument that we might be too wrapped up with playing our own conference to really know how good it is overall, but want to point out that the Big 12 has incredibly varied styles of play from team to team. This variety is the sort of thing that should help our teams out in the tourney because they've seen a stretch 4/5 from Iowa St, they've seen high pressure from West Virginia, and they've seen the funky zones by Baylor two and sometimes three times already so the coaches and players should be familiar with how to attack/defend these things. This will give teams a potential advantage on the Saturday/Sunday games that have minimal prep time because they won't have to reinvent the wheel to try and gameplan.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 6 months ago

not just on this site. But also on ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports, NBC Sports, etc....

Reggie Flenory 7 years, 6 months ago

This Kansas team hellacious schedule and they are pretty worn out but if they can push threw to the end weekend I can see them winning the bracket the question is do they have any fight left in them to stay focused and,compete

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 6 months ago

One of my posted brackets has Kansas winning a Big 12 Final Four. OU, ISU and Baylor were my other FF picks. Not likely but each of these teams has shown the ability to beat anyone, even Kansas over UK.

Robert Brock 7 years, 6 months ago

Prediction: the Big 12 will have no teams in the Elite Eight.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 6 months ago

I already read that on Myron Medcalf's blog. It's very easy to believe that it could be true. Everyone has touted the Big 12 as the best conference in the country. I even heard Shane Battier while talking about Texas, state that the Big 12 was the best in the country by far. I think that we can all agree that the Big 12's non-conference record this season was very good, with a handful of teams getting through that part of the season with only 2 or 3 losses. But after watching the Big 12 all season, it seems like the strength of the conference has more to do with a lack of dominant teams, than it does with a multitude of them. Every team has fatal flaws. Kansas should be plenty motivated to get in position for a rematch with UK, but WSU is plenty motivated for a chance to play Kansas.

Notre Dame is like ISU on steroids. They play frenetic basketball and can shoot from all over the floor. They've beaten Duke and UNC twice. They lost by 6 to Virginia in what was their lowest scoring game all season. Consequently, in the game they only shot 12 free throws missed 6. They average 15 made FTs a game.

I made a pact with myself, that as long as Kansas is a 1 or a 2 seed in the tourney I will pick them to win every year. This year, I considered breaking my pact. I don't think Kansas gets by ND. And I surely don't believe that Kansas will beat Kentucky. But so be it, I may lose my $20, but I surely won't lose my dignity. Kansas all the way!

Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

It will be nice to just have two teams in the sweet 16. I have Baylor and ISU as those teams.

Dale Rogers 7 years, 6 months ago

It is impressive that a conference with just 10 teams has had 14 teams in two tournaments but for these kinds of numbers to show just how impressive it is you have to look at percentages. I've not put all the numbers together but, for the Big 12 that's 70% of its teams in the tournament. Anyone know what the percentages are for each of the other 5 power conferences?

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