Ten members of the Big 12 started this basketball season. Three remain (and really, only one remains, but I’ll be damned if I’m not pumped up about a shot at another NIT title).
Let’s talk about those three.
Texas Tech: I got my Dave Campbell’s Texas Basketball magazine in the mail last fall. The cover art was a picture of Chris Beard, and there was a nice feature about the program he was building at Tech.
I thought that was great, and all, and yet I still fully expected the Red Raiders to get a 7-seed and be bounced in the first weekend. Joke’s on me — Tech is in the Final Four after beating a red-hot Gonzaga team and holding Michigan to under 50 points.
Holding a team to under 50 points? Maybe Tech should try that in football for a change!
[taps mic] Is this thing on, or what?
Anyway. I’ve said this before, but I talk to a few high school basketball coaches in my day job, and I have yet to hear a negative word about Beard. The man is by all accounts doing everything right, and he has Tech two wins away from a national title. Thank god Lubbock isn’t in a dry county anymore.
(Which, by the way — Lubbock was dry until 2009! It was America’s largest dry city! I simply can’t fathom that.)
TCU: Alexa, play the Taylor Swift classic “Welcome to New York.”
The Horned Frogs are back in the NIT semifinals and back at Madison Square Garden, a venue slightly less prestigious than Schollmaier Arena. Look at it this way — TCU has won 23 games this season. The Knicks have only won 15!
Rumors abound about UCLA’s interest in Jamie Dixon, which is a weird situation to me. Dixon is a very good coach that I support tremendously, but UCLA is a blue blood program that was in the Final Four a decade ago. And Dixon is in a dream scenario at his alma mater, with a fanbase that has low expectations (for now) and an athletic department flush with cash. I don’t think he’ll leave for Los Angeles.
Which, with my luck, means he’s probably booking a flight from JFK to LAX later this weekend.
I digress, however. The Frogs play in the NIT semifinals tonight at 8 p.m. against...
Texas: ...the Longhorns, a team TCU has already beaten twice this season. They say beating a team three times in a season is extremely difficult, so it was awfully nice of the NIT to put the only two Big 12 teams in the tournament on the same side of the bracket.
Texas is at a crossroads with Shaka Smart, but a win in this game and an NIT title appearance might be just enough to buy the fifth-year head coach another season. Texas fans I know aren’t too thrilled with his performance, but to be fair, he’s had to deal with some injuries and player misbehavior.
That’s it. Those are the only three teams left playing men’s basketball in the Big 12. Root for the Red Raiders — Beard’s a good dude, and the fans are fun when they’re not hurling tortillas at you.