Can the Big 12 Turn Dominant First Day into Dominant First Round?

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 19:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners jumps to the basket for the lay up in the first half against the Morgan State Golden Bears during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 19, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Oklahoma was expected to dominate its first-round game; Texas and Texas A&M were not. However, all three did—winning easily by no less than 13 in all three of their opening-round contests.

The media has told you all year that the Big 12 was down, but they said the same thing about Pac-10 football right before they went 5-0 in their bowl games.

I am not saying that the six Big 12 teams are going to go 36-0. That would be impossible. But coming out of the tournament with a 60-something winning percentage may very well happen. Just know that the media may not know what they are talking about and you should take what you hear with a grain of salt because the Big 12 is as strong as it has ever been.

There may not have been a team favored to make a Final Four run, but the conference has three teams more than capable in OU, Kansas, and Missouri. The other three teams in the tournament are playing well late in the year, as proved by the Longhorns' and Aggies' easy first-round victories.

Today, the Big 12 has two No. 3 seeds playing in Mizzou and Kansas. It is highly unlikely that either will lose their opening-round game, as three seeds do not fall in the first round often.

So the pressure of an undefeated first round falls squarely on Oklahoma State, which has recently beat OU and played Missouri well. The Cowboys get an early draw on Friday, so we will know how they fare by mid-afternoon. Missouri and Kansas play early as well, so by dinner time we will know if the down league this year managed to go undefeated in the opening round.

The next round well get much harder for the Big 12, Texas A&M and the Longhorns are slated to play No. 1 UConn and No. 2 Duke, respectively, and Oklahoma State should get Pitt if the Cowboys can win their game today.

So even if the Big 12 manages to go undefeated in the first round, getting three teams to the Sweet 16 will be a major challenge. 

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