The Big 12 is widely considered the best basketball conference in the land this season, and on Selection Sunday, the conference took home top honors again, placing the most teams in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Seven teams from the Big 12 are headed to the Big Dance next week Throughout the coming week, we will preview all of the tournament matchups involving Big 12 teams, but we start by identifying where the seven teams are are seeded, where they are going for the second-round games and, importantly, who their opponents are.
Regular-season champion Kansas (24-9, 14-4) is the highest seeded Big 12 team. The Jayhawks are seeded No. 2 in the South Region and will play No. 15 Eastern Kentucky in St. Louis on Friday. The Eastern Kentucky Colonels were 24-9 this season. The Colonels won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, defeating top-seeded Belmont, to receive one of the 32 automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. It will be Eastern Kentucky’s eighth appearance in the tournament and first since 2007. Top-ranked Florida is the No. 1 seed in the South and the overall No. 1 sees in the Tournament.
This is the third time that Kansas has been a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament since the Big 12 was formed 18 seasons ago. During that time, the Jayhawks have made an appearance in the tournament every season, and they have been seeded as one of the four No. 1 seeds eight times.
Iowa State (26-7, 11-7), winner of the Big 12 Championship Tournament this weekend, is the No. 3 seed in the East Region, where ACC champion Virginia is the top seed. The Cyclones are headed to San Antonio for a Friday date with 14-seeded North Carolina Central (28-5), making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Eagles won the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Championship an have won 20 consecutive games heading into their second-round matchup with the Big 12 Tournament champions.
Oklahoma (23-9, 12-6) returns to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, this time as the five seed in the West Region. The Sooners, who finished second in the Big 12 this season, will meet the North Dakota State Bison in the second round in a Thursday/Saturday bracket in Spokane, Wash. North Dakota State was 12-2 in champions of the Summit League this season. The Bison head into the NCAA Tournament having won 14 of their last 15 outings. The Sooners are making their 28th NCAA appearance and their 23rd since the 1983 season. That is second to Kansas’ 30 appearances over the same time span among Big 12 teams. Arizona is the top seed in the West Region.
Also in the West along with the No. 4-seeded Sooners are Baylor and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State (21-12, 8-10) is the No. 9 seed in the West, and the Cowboys draw No. 8 seed Gonzaga (28-6) for a Friday game in San Diego. The Zags, who have become a fixture in the Big Dance in recent seasons, won this year’s West Coast Conference Tournament to go along with their regular-season championship. A potential Sweet 16 matchup between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is possible if both teams were to survive to play the second weekend of the tournament.
Baylor (24-11, 9-9) is the West Region’s No. 6 seed. The Bears are paired against former Big 12 foe Nebraska in the second round. The game will be played in San Antonio on Friday. The Cornhuskers (19-12) finished fourth in the Big Ten this season. At one point this season, Baylor lost five consecutive Big 12 games and stood 2-8 in the league. That was after winning 12 of their first 13 games to start the season, including a big win over Kentucky. Baylor finished the season winning 10 of its last 12 games, including three wins in as many days to advance to the championship final of this year’s Big 12 Tournament. The Bears put up a great fight before finally succumbing to Iowa State in the championship game.
Texas (23-10, 11-7) is the No. 7 seed in the Midwest and will play the No. 10 seed, the Arizona State Sun Devils (21-11) on Thursday in Milwaukee. Arizona State finished in a five-way tie for third place this season in the Pac-12 Conference. The No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region is the undefeated Wichita State Shockers, 34-0 this season.
The final Big 12 team to make this year’s NCAA Tournament is Kansas State (20-12, 10-8). The Wildcats are making their fifth consecutive March Madness appearance. Two teams nicknamed the Wildcats will be on the floor on Friday in St. Louis, when No. 9 seed Kansas State will square off against the Wildcats of Kentucky (24-10). K-State has perhaps the most difficult second-round assignment of any of the seven Big 12 teams who this week begin the road to Dallas, site of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Final Four.
Breaking down the Big 12 NCAA Tournament teams by region:Midwest Region: (7) Texas, (9) Kansas State
South Region: (2) Kansas
West Region: (5) Oklahoma, (6) Baylor, (9) Oklahoma State
East Region: (3) Iowa State
Broken down by tournament seeds:
3. Iowa Ste
9. Oklahoma State
9. Kansas State
Tags: 2014 NCAA Tournament Baylor Bears Big 12 Basketball Big 12 NCAA Tournament Selections Iowa State Cyclones Kansas Jayhawks Kansas State Wildcats Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma State Cowboys Texas Longhorns