Much has been written and discussed about the Big 12’s disappointing run in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The conference with the top overall RPI coming into the tournament performed like the popular saying about the month of March: In like a lion and out like a lamb.
The seven Big 12 teams that received bids to this year’s dance were all gone save two after the first 36 games of the tournament. Only the sixth-seeded BaylorBears and the No. 3-seed Iowa State Cyclones were left to carry on representing the Big 12 after the first weekend of action.
Neither the Bears nor the Cyclones survived beyond its third tournament game, in the regional semifinals. And what’s worse neither looked particularly good in bowing out. Baylor was crushed by West Regional winner Wisconsin, which defeated top-seed Arizona in a thrilling matchup of one-seed vs, two-seed on Saturday night.
Iowa State also was taken out by the eventual regional winner in the East, No. 7-seeded Connecticut. So at least the final two Big 12 teams left standing after the opening weekend can take solace in being eliminated by teams that reached this year’s Final Four.
And perhaps Kansas State, which lost to Kentucky in its opening tournament game, can feel a little bit better about itself knowing that those other Wildcats – or Kiddie Kats, as some might call them in deference to Kentucky’s freshman dominated roster – are another team on its way to North Texas and the Final Four. Overall, though, a very dismal showing by the league thought by many to be the strongest in college basketball this season.
If a conference’s true colors come out in a highly competitive, single-elimination championship like the NCAA Tournament, then color the Big 12 black in the Big Dance of 2014. Here are a few final notes and quotes from the press room debris following final horn signaling the end of another Big 12 men’s basketball season:
- In its 81-76 loss to Connecticut in the East Region semifinal, Iowa State shot just 31 percent in the first half, 16 percent below its season average. That contributes to a 10-point halftime deficit from which the Cyclones were never able to recover.
- Junior Dustin Hogue led the Cyclones in scoring against Connecticut with a career-high 34 points, 24 of which came in the second half.
- Iowa State’s leading scorer during the season, senior Melvin Ejim, scored just seven points vs. Connecticut on 3 for 13 shooting, 11 points below his season average.
- Iowa State’s regional semifinal loss in the NCAA Tournament was its first loss on a neutral court this season in 10 games. The Cyclones are 1-3 all-time at Madison Square Garden.
- Iowa State finished the 2013-24 season with 28 wins (and seven losses), the second most in Cyclones basketball history.
- Iowa State was 9-3 in games this season against AP top-25 teams. The nine wins is a school record.
- In Baylor’s 69-52 loss to Wisconsin in the West Region semifinal, the Bears were outscored in the paint 36-24 by the Badgers.
- Baylor’s record when holding opponents below 70 points this season was 19-3 before the loss to Wisconsin.
- Their semifinal matchup in this year’s NCAA Tournament was the first ever between Baylor and Wisconsin in basketball.
- Baylor head coach Scott Drew on his team’s NCAA Tournament performance against Wisconsin: “Wisconsin played really a great game, and we did a really poor job of making things tough. They’re extremely hard to pressure and rattle…Once we got behind, we had to o some things we wished we didn’t have to do.”