OKLAHOMA CITY—Well, this was a surprise.
How many of you had Baylor and Missouri in your Big 12 Tournament Championship game?
OK, really, who even filled out a bracket?
Those hoping to see Oklahoma double-double dropper Blake Griffin and Kansas super-coach Bill Self on the Ford Center floor on Saturday night were welcomed by Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn and Missouri coach Mike Anderson.
Not your idea of an ideal championship game? Stay with me, folks.
I’m a fan of seeing two highly-talented teams compete like anyone else.
But this is March and I want a little madness (on the court only, please).
Everybody craves for players putting up crazy numbers that nobody’s heard of, buzzer beating shots and directional schools taking down powerhouse universities.
I give you Baylor and Missouri (yes, both are classified as big school teams), but the match-up was definitely enough for me to chew on until next Thursday’s tournament.
Baylor had big goals this season. A year after a NCAA Tournament berth, the Bears were picked to finish third in the conference and were expected to be in the tournament talk again.
The Bears had to win to get a NCAA bid.
It fell short against the Tigers 73-60, but before you let a single tear dribble down your cheek, listen to Missouri’s march back to March.
In only his third season, Anderson has built back up a Missouri program that was brought down by former coach Quin Snyder.
The Tigers had a .500 record last year and were picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 at the beginning of the season.
Mizzou exceeded expectations, finishing third in the Big 12 and if the Tigers go to the Sweet 16, they will reach 30 wins for the first time in program history.
None of the current team members had even won any type of post-season game in their college careers since the 2005 Big 12 Tournament.
“It is a very emotional time for us here right now,” said Missouri senior Leo Lyons. “We’ve seen this program at its worst, and now we’ve seen it at best.”
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, a usually serious Anderson flashed a quick, but big smile, before getting that irreparable scowl back on his face.
“He kept saying, ‘it’s not over yet, it’s not over,'” Lyons said.
Who could blame the players? The seniors had only been waiting four years for a moment like this.
“There’s time for reflection later,” said senior guard Matt Lawrence. “We have a big thing coming up in a week.”
Redemption and reaping the rewards: this is what March is all about.