Monday, March 21, 2011
Kansas State coach Frank Martin recently commented that the Big 12 was disrespected by the media as well as the general public after Colorado was snubbed from the NCAA tournament. I thought Martin had a valid point, until the smoke cleared in the NCAA tournament and Kansas was the only team left standing.
To get here, the Jayhawks simply took care of business, playing average basketball and being the better team. The scary thing is KU has played nowhere near its best; in its win over Illinois, the Morris twins almost single handily beat the Illini and buried the memory of the Northern Iowa upset for good. If KU's guards start hitting outside shots and the Morris twins continue to play at a high level, the Jayhawks should take advantage of its favorable draw and make it back to the Final 4.
The problem for the Big 12 is once again, Kansas is the only team making any noise on a national level. The league needs sustained success from other programs to be credible, not a few flashes in the pan. Last year, K-State and Baylor both had strong Big 12 finishes and made the Elite 8 before falling to the two teams that made the final. This season, the Wildcats entered the tournament as a 5 seed and lost in the second round, while Baylor isn't even found in the NIT. Despite some regular season success, Texas once again fell short in the NCAA tournament, while Texas A&M and Missouri got bounced in the first round. KU's seven straight Big 12 titles doesn't help the Big 12's reputation as a one team league, despite the talent level the conference boasts. With the new, tougher league next year and coaches like Billy Gillispie entering the fray (or re-entering in Gillispie's case), the Big 12 could be the best conference in America. Hopefully America will notice.
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