So much for down year: Big 12 starts tourney 6-0


Happy madness to one and all.

Don't look now, but the Big 12 finished the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a perfect 6-0 record. Impressive for a conference that flew under the national radar for much of the season.

Some thoughts I had in general about some of the conference's games:

Cole Aldrich simply manhandled North Dakota State post players today. KU play of the game, to me, was Aldrich following up a Sherron Collins missed runner in the lane with a throw-down jam off the rim, plus the foul. I rewound my DVR on the play three times. It was fascinating to watch Aldrich, who started near the foul line, crash the boards on that play and rip down a thunderous dunk to put an exclamation point on a KU victory.

Is there any better college basketball announcer than Gus Johnson? I wish that guy called every tournament game. His comments on Collins today were classic:

"Collins on the wing, rise and fire."

(Then, after a few made threes....)

"We need a heat check over here for Collins!"

Did anyone notice Johnson's voice actually crack one time during a Collins crossover? I was laughing pretty hard on that one.

Byron Eaton's crossover on Tennessee and subsequent game-winning layup has been the play of the tournament so far. Bill Raftery had the call: "A little lingerie on the deck!" Eaton is one of the more underrated clutch players in the Big 12 and the country and he proved it in Oklahoma State's victory over Tennesee today.

How about Blake Griffin getting flipped over by Morgan State's Ameer Ali on Thursday night? If you missed it, catch the YouTube clip here.

Ali's takedown was certainly more intentional than Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair flipping over UConn's Hasheem Thabeet earlier this season. I couldn't help but correlate the two instances, though.

Griffin still went for 28 and 13 in the Oklahoma rout on Thursday night.

I'd say the Sooners have a great chance of landing in the Sweet 16 with their next game at 4:50 p.m. Saturday against No. 10 Michigan.

There's a reason earlier in the season I called A.J. Abrams the best three-point shooter in the history of the Big 12.

The Texas senior guard was sensational against Minnesota, connecting on eight threes and putting up 26 points. Look, I recognize the "chucker" label on Abrams. Clearly, he shoots a lot of threes and that's the main reason he's converted more trifectas than anyone in Big 12 history.

The bottom line is the guy is lethal from long range and just an inch of separation could mean trouble for the opposition. With how closely he's guarded, it's amazing he hits as many threes as he does. An Abrams open look is considerably different than most others shooters' open looks.

Other first-round conference victories went to Missouri and Texas A&M.

How's everyone's bracket looking? The mighty Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky made me proud Thursday night. They're probably my biggest sleeper right now since I have them going to the Sweet 16.

My Final Four is Louisville, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma and Memphis.

We'll see how it all turns out, but it's been an exciting first two days of March Madness. Did we expect anything less?

As always, discuss.


CaramelMacchMan 13 years, 5 months ago

yeah Gus was good! I wish he did the last years Final game.

Jesse Newell 13 years, 5 months ago

I'm trying to get excited about the Big 12's 6-0 start, but it's hard.

I'm impressed by A&M's demolishing of BYU. I didn't get to see Oklahoma State beat Tennessee (obviously), but other than that, what Big 12 team wasn't supposed to win in the first round? I watched Minnesota-Texas, and the Gophers were awful. You and I hit more outside shots at Holcom in pickup ball than the Gophers do. The Sooners, Tigers and Jayhawks were all considered 10-plus point favorites.

If four Big 12 teams make the Sweet 16, I'll be impressed. But I just don't see it happening.

rtjayhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

Gus Johnson "lost his mind" a few times in that game (just going ga-ga over some plays). That's why I like him calling college hoops. Both he and Bill Raferty (sp) do a good job of getting excited about college ball.

Jonathan Allison 13 years, 5 months ago

When Abrams is on, there's no way you can keep him from getting his shot off. I've never seen anyone with a quicker release, except maybe Ray Allen

hayshawk2123 13 years, 5 months ago

I was proud of the big 12 starting 6-0. Okay so most of the teams were expected to win their games, but that's the beauty of March. I don't think Wake Forest was expecting Cleveland St. to beat them handily. I'm just glad their were no Wake Forest like performances out of the big 12 schools. It looks good for the overall league, and makes KU's regular season conference record look that much better. Another reason I'm excited about the basketball's 6-0 start, is we were all disappointed during the football bowl season, when some of the big 12 teams laid eggs. Going in the Big 12 was suppose to be the superior conference in the entire country, and finished 4-3 good for 6th in the bowl challenge; while the Pac-10 finished 5-0.

Lone_salina_kufan 13 years, 5 months ago

Cleveland State just made Frank Martin seem like he has a real legitimate gripe for not getting in the field this year. I find Frank very entertaining, and also seemed to help bring a chip on the shoulder of the Big 12 teams. And I don't care if most teams from Big 12 were favored, the tourny is considered a success or failure in a national sense based on "upsets"! The fact it didn't happen to anyone in the conference IS an accomplishment in my opinion

Steve Brown 13 years, 5 months ago

Best college announcer Kevin Harlan in my book...The Big 12 going 6-0 is great for our league....I hope they all make next round....when the conf. does well it helps our power ranking and RPI, I wonder if that carries over for next our 4th place team may get in next time.... I'm torn whether to root for Mizzerry to win another or not, I have dream they get within 2 pts of the final four and lose in last second a final eight team, then Mike goes to SEC & Bama... Oh to long for the return of the Quinn Snyder days.

at least we miss another game with Huggy Bear...and his scrappers... Rock Chalk..

Joe Joseph 13 years, 5 months ago

Frank Martin and his argument that he should have made the tournament just lost to San Diego State in the NIT.

Marcia Parsons 13 years, 5 months ago

Not necessarily. San Diego State was another team that probably should have been in the NCAA. Remember Dickie V's rant about it on ESPN?

rawkhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

I've been impressed with the Big 12 thus far. Also, Baylor is tearing thru the NIT at the moment...I don't know if I could honestly say that the BIg 12 is toughest conference, but it does seem like the Big 12 may be have been underhyped and other conferences overhyped. There is still a lot of basketball to be played before anyone could say anything definitive. Back to the Jayhawks, it's impressive that their conference regular season record was better this year than last year's championship team. I hope it means that KU will be extra tough in the games coming up and will surprise a few folks...

nobody1793 13 years, 4 months ago

"Best college announcer Kevin Harlan in my book..."

You mean KU Alum Kevin Harlan...and you're right.

Play-by-play guys are supposed to call the game. With excitement, yes. But not say stupid crap, not cheer for the underdog, not be the center of attention. The "color" man is supposed to give expert insight and point out things that we may not pick up on, not say stupid crap, cheer for the underdog or be the center of attention.

actorman 13 years, 4 months ago

Speaking of stupid crap, was anyone else watching the Gonzaga-WKU game with 2 1/2 minutes left? WKU was down by 6 and the Zags had the ball, and the announcer said, "Now you don't have to foul here." Well no sh*t, Sherlock!!! I am SO SICK of announcers telling us whether teams have to foul or go for a three or try to steal the ball, or that it's a "two-possession game." They act like everyone watching the game is learning about basketball for the first time. Tell us something interesting, not basketball 101.

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