I know we all kind of kick softball to the back burner when it comes to other sports, but it's important to note how dominant one conference has been in the NCAA tournament. The Big 12, which featured five current or recently previous (Missouri, Texas A&M, Nebraska) teams, had a great showing over the weekend. Of the six teams, five advanced. The only team that didn't was Baylor. They were in the same bracket as the Aggies and forced a decisive elimination game in the regional final. If the Cornhuskers, Aggies, and Tigers had stayed in the conference, here's how it would have looked.
(1) Oklahoma: 3-0. The Sooners, deservedly playing as the top overall seed in the tournament, overwhelmed their competition over the weekend, winning by a margin of 39-6. They beat Marist 17-0, Arkansas 10-5, and then run-ruled the Razorbacks 14-1 in the regional final. This was the type of dominance many expected from the tournament favorite. After all, the Sooners have just four losses all season. They'll host Texas A&M next weekend.
(4) Texas: 3-0. Welcome to Austin, home of elite pitcher and former Longhorn Cat Osterman. Osterman announced she intends to retire at the end of the year, and I guess the Longhorns are trying to show the world they have other pitchers ready to dominate the world much like the talented left hander. Texas swept through its weekend, shutting out Army 5-0 in their first game, smacking South Carolina 11-2 in the winners bracket and then shutting out the Gamecocks 6-0 in the regional final to advance to the Super Regional. The Longhorns will host Florida State, which upset South Alabama in the Mobile Regional.
(6) Missouri: 3-1. The Tigers are just one year removed from the Big 12, and you can tell they haven't lost their fight. They didn't have much offense over the weekend, scoring just nine runs, but their defense came to life when it had to. This was definitely one of the more interesting and heart-pounding regions to watch over the weekend. Missouri defeated Stony Brook 3-0 in their first game and blanked Hofstra 1-0 in the winners bracket before taking a 10-0 beating by the Pride (Hofstra's mascot...seriously) in Game 1 of the regional final. The Tigers were finally able to put the Pride away with a dominant 5-0 win in Game 2. The Tigers will host No. 11 Washington, which also had trouble with offense, in the Super Regional next weekend.
(14) Nebraska: 3-0. The Cornhuskers are just two years removed from the Big 12, and more than half their current roster played on the team that finished the season with a 41-14 record and lost 4-1 to Stanford in the regional final in Palo Alto, California. This year the Huskers welcomed Stanford, Tulsa, and Northern Iowa to Lincoln. They beat Northern Iowa 4-0 in the first game, upended the Cardinal 7-1 in the winners bracket, then repaid Stanford the favor given to them in 2011, doubling up the Cardinal 10-5 in the regional final. The Cornhuskers will head to Eugene, Oregon, to battle the No. 3 Ducks in the Super Regional next weekend. The Ducks are 19-0 at home and beat the Cornhuskers 11-2 in February.
(16) Texas A&M: 3-1. If there was ever a team that could run with the Sooners, it's Texas A&M. The Aggies scored 26 runs in their three wins and added another five in their sole loss in the first game of the regional final. In their first game, the Aggies scored 12 runs in five innings to run-rule Penn. They followed that with a 6-5 win over Baylor in the winners bracket. Then, in the regional final, they faced their old Big 12 nemesis again. The Bears won the first game 9-5 before the Aggies found their defense again and run-ruled the Bears 8-0 on the back of five home runs to advance to the Norman Super Regional next weekend.
Baylor: Baylor wasn't far behind Texas A&M in runs scored, and the Bears' fight was more evidence of the depth of the conference. They beat Arizona 7-0 in the first game before falling 6-5 to Texas A&M in the winner's bracket. In order to advance to the Super Regional, the Bears would need to win three straight. They almost did. They doubled up Arizona 8-4 to eliminate the Wildcats and then had Texas A&M on the ropes before falling in the second game of the regional final.
As it sits, the SEC is the most dominant conference. No. 2 overall seed Florida, No. 6 Missouri, No. 7 Tennssee, No. 10 Alabama, No. 12 Kentucky, and No. 16 Texas A&M are all still in the tournament. No. 9 LSU was upset in Baton Rouge. Georgia lost in the regional final at Arizona State. Mississippi State went 1-2 in the South Alabama region. That's the reality for the SEC. The reality for the Big 12 is the conference is living with Oklahoma and Texas still in the tournament and the what-could-have-been had the Cornhuskers, Aggies, and Tigers stayed in the nation's midsection.