Men’s basketball in the Big 12 this season has been one big thrill ride and one of the most competitive in the 18 years of the Big 12 era. At no time in the league’s relatively short history – or perhaps even going back into the previous iterations of the leagues that existed before coming together to form the Big 12 – have so many freshman and newcomers made such a large contribution to the overall success and recognition afforded the Big 12 in 2013-14.
Lest we be accused of ignoring the fact that there is a conference team still at work in that grand season finale known as the NCAA Tournament, the season has come to an end for every team except for the Iowa State Cyclones, which goes up against UConn Friday night at Madison Square Garden with a chance to advance one more level, to the Elite Eight.
The Baylor Bears were on track until Thursday night, when their championship hopes got abruptly derailed by a much better prepared Wisconsin team that has made its 13th consecutive trip to the Big Dance under head coach Bo Ryan, It took the victorious Badgers less than a minute after the opening tipoff to get total control of the game. Other than trailing 2-0 at the very outset of the game, the Badgers, out of the Big Ten, were never headed in this West Region semifinal tilt.
Six Big 12 teams have fallen by the wayside over the last week of play in this years’ NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Despite the Big 12’s somewhat irrelevant March Madness showing, there have been an array of story lines and intriguing notes and quotes pertaining to the Big 12 participants in the tourney that you might have missed.
- Baylor’s humbling loss to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 round of this year’s NCAA Tournament was the first time head coach Scott Drew has lost in the Sweet 16 in three tries. His record is now 2-1 in the round of 16.
- The 16 points scored by Baylor in the first half vs. Wisconsin, was its low mark of the season, and the 52 scored in the game tied a season low. Kansas held the Bears to 52 points in an identical 69-52 margin of victory in Waco in early February.
- Iowa State had lost three straight times in the NCAA Tournament round of 32 before securing the win over North Carolina last weekend. The Cyclones are 10-2 in the NCAA Tourney all-time when they are the higher-seeded team. The No. 3-seeded Cyclones play No. 7 Connecticut Friday night in an East Region semifinal.
- Kansas head coach Bill Self on the Jayhawks’ defensive pressure in the third-round loss to 10-seed Stanford: “We didn’t guard any of there guys poorly, I didn’t think. I didn’t think it was our defense as much as it was their defense against our offense that hurt us.” Kansas shot an uncharacteristic 33 percent for the game.
- The Jayhawks lost 10 games in 2013-14, their first double-digit-loss season since 1999-2000.
- Oklahoma lost to North Dakota State despite taking 21 more shots that the Summit Conference champs. North Dakota State was the best shooting team in the country this season, making 52 percent of its field-goal attempts. The Bison lived up to their reputation against the Sooners, shooting 52 percent in a 80-75 overtime victory. OU shot just 35 percent from the field in the game.
- OU’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Buddy Hield had just nine points vs. North Dakota State in the Sooners opening game in the NCAA Tourney. That was only the third time in 33 games this season that he has failed to score in double digits. He also had made at least three three-point shots in 11 of the Sooners’ previous 12 games. Hield made just one three-point shot against North Dakota State, and missed a couple of treys late in regulation that could have changed the outcome of the game.
- Texas outrebounded Michigan 41-30 in its third-round loss to the Wolverines last weekend, but the Wolverines turned nine Texas turnovers into 15 points. The Longhorns got two points off of just four Michigan turnovers.
- Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber on his team’s short comings in its second-round loss to No. 8-seed Kentucky: “They (Kentucky)could make a mistake and still recover because of their athleticism and length. We didn’t (get enough) offensively to try to find something to maybe get over the hump…And we just didn’t make enough shots to give us a chance to get a victory,”
- Sixty-one personal fouls were whistled in Oklahoma State’s opening tournament game with Gonzaga. Five players fouled out (three for Oklahoma State and two for 1Gonzaga) and six more (two for OSU and four for Gonzaga had four fouls each. The number of fouls was seven short of the all-time NCAA Tournament record set 58 years ago.
- The final three and a half minutes in the Oklahoma State-Gonzaga game took 24 minutes in real time to play out.