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Beyond the Fort: Big 12 Bracketology and other headlines

Get ready for plenty of familiar names in March Madness if the current projections hold.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Texas Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

Congratulations. You’ve made it through the first month of 2019.

Even better news: March is now only 28 days away, and that should have you jumping for joy in the event that you’re a diehard college basketball fan.

Okay, so March Madness technically won’t get underway until a few weeks after that, with a March 17th selection date and a March 21st start date to be exact. But before you get bummed out about the fairly late start date this spring, just remember that we have plenty of entertaining and unpredictable Big 12 basketball left to enjoy for now in the month ahead, not to mention the Big 12 Tournament in early March which serves as a spectacle of its own.

Still, it’s never too early to take a look at what we could be in store for. Let’s get started, shall we?

Bracketology and the Big 12

For a conference that prides itself on unparalleled depth on the hardwood, Joe Lunardi’s latest projections for the NCAA Tournament support the case. As of Friday, eight Big 12 teams were featured in Lunardi’s updated bracketology — the highest percentage of any power conference.

And perhaps a further indicator of the depth the Big 12 showcases: No team was higher than a No. 3 seed (Kansas), yet nobody was lower than a No. 10 seed (Texas). On a local note, TCU checked in as a No. 8 seed, and will have a chance to boost their standing on Saturday vs. a red-hot Baylor squad that has gone from not featured to a No. 9 seed amid a 5-game winning streak.

So, eighty percent. Can the Big 12 do it? It would be quite the task, but the foundation is there, and heck — given that this league just about turns itself upside down and back seemingly every other day, this might just be the year at the conference gets the job done come Selection Sunday.

No bowling anytime soon for Mizzou

Though the former TCU quarterback won’t be eligible to play this upcoming season anyways due to NCAA transfer regulations (barring an exemption), Shawn Robinson’s new home has found itself in a bit of turmoil as Missouri incurred a two-year postseason ban from the the NCAA DI Committee on Infractions on Thursday in wake of a two-year investigation into alleged academic fraud.

Needless to say, the punishment for the Tigers comes right as promise was seemingly on the horizon for the football program. Former Clemson starting quarterback Kelly Bryant is set to be Mizzou’s man under center this fall as a graduate transfer, and with Robinson right behind him in the quarterback room, there’s no lack of depth. Alas, it now won’t be until 2021 that the Tigers will even have a chance to partake in a bowl game of any type.

Is the punishment too harsh? You be the judge. Nonetheless, the entire program is now feeling the effects of a scandal involving 12 students. For Bryant and Robinson, it certainly boils down to one of those “wrong place, wrong time situations.”

Coaching salaries in Norman

In case you hadn’t heard, Lincoln Riley may only be in his mid-thirties, but he’s taking home more than just a comfy paycheck this year — set to make $6 million in 2019 with increases through 2024.

So where does Riley sit among the other top names in the sport? It’s not quite clear just yet, but based on the 2018 figures, Riley is certainly inching his way closer and closer to the top. Both he and TCU head coach Gary Patterson made an estimated 4.8 million last season, in perspective.

It’s a heck of a salary, no doubt. But hey, good things happen when you can lead your team to a back-to-back Big 12 titles and College Football Playoff appearances in your first two seasons as head coach. If your curious about the rest of his staff, you can view the salaries for all Oklahoma football coaches here.