The Big 12 had 60 percent of its teams make the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty good! Two more, in TCU and Texas, were right there on the bubble. All in all, heading into last weekend, Bob Bowlsby and his merry band of administrators at the Big 12 offices in Irving had to be pretty excited.
Except through two games, only one Big 12 team remains in the NCAA Tournament. Congrats, Texas Tech — you stand atop the ash heap.
Let’s go and figure out what happened. We’ll travel down into the lesser tournaments as well for some extra analysis.
The Winners: Texas Tech, TCU and Texas
Well, at least SOMEBODY did their job. Texas Tech beat Northern Kentucky by 15 and blew out No. 6 seed Buffalo by 20. The Red Raiders have done exactly what they were supposed to do, and now have a Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan that, in this humble reporter’s estimate, could be one of the best games of the tournament. Winner plays either Gonzaga or Florida State to advance to the Final Four.
And let’s give a shoutout to TCU and Texas, as well, two teams that are still alive in the NIT. The Frogs have beaten Sam Houston State (my mom’s alma mater, go Bearcats) and Nebraska to make the final eight of the NIT, with a game against Creighton tonight. Texas has beaten South Dakota State and Xavier by a combined eight points, and will play Colorado for the right to go the NIT Final Four. And, yes, TCU and Texas would play each other in the semifinals.
The Middle Ground: Baylor and Oklahoma
It’s hard to fault the Bears and the Sooners for their performances in the NCAA Tournament. Both were No. 9 seeds, both won their first round matchups, and both lost by 12 to a No. 1 seed in the second round.
In other words, pretty much what you’d expect. Oklahoma did put up the most points of any team in the tournament so far, dropping a smooth 95 against Ole Miss. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
The YIKES: Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and...West Virginia?
Kansas and Kansas State were No. 4 seeds. Kansas State lost to UC-Irvine, a team nicknamed the Anteaters. I can’t locate Irvine on a map — but then, I don’t know where Manhattan is in Kansas, either. Kansas State didn’t have Dean Wade, but that’s still an inexcusable loss.
Kansas did win its first round matchup, but got its doors blown off by 5-seed Auburn in the second round. I could make a lot of jokes about the Jayhawks losing to Bruce Pearl, the Auburn head coach, but the funniest joke is actually the truth — Pearl was caught up in a recruiting scandal while at Tennessee that centered around Aaron Craft, of all players. Craft, who went undrafted, is best known for being the scrappiest gym rat you ever did see at Ohio State. Imagine getting an NCAA investigation for recruiting Aaron Craft! At least use that on Zion, or somebody.
Anyway, I digress — compared to the high standards of Kansas basketball, this was an awful season.
Iowa State was a 6-seed and lost by three to Ohio State. I trusted you, Cyclones, and this is how you repay me? Disgusting.
And here we come to West Virginia, a team that did not make the NCAA Tournament but for some reason is still playing in the CBI, which is a tournament that should not exist. The Mountaineers won their first-round matchup against Grand Canyon 77-63. Good for them! They then proceeded to lose 109-91 to Coastal Carolina. It was the first time CCU had cracked 100 points all season.
Bob Huggins — cut your losses! You’re a proud man, a very good head coach. Don’t play in the CBI, dude. Just go fishing or whatever it is you do when you’re not coaching, regroup, and try again next year. Otherwise, you might get waxed by a Sun Belt team.