Big 12 Has Second Most Teams in Elite Eight: Wait, What?

Gabe SimondsContributor IMarch 28, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on during the second round game against the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Sooners defeated the Wolverines 73-63.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Big 12 is behind the Big East with two teams in the tournament.  The third Big 12 team that would have made it, Kansas, was much closer to Elite Eight than the second Big Ten team, Purdue, and the second ACC team, Duke, which were in their Sweet Sixteen games. 

The recurring story on ESPN is how the ACC hasn't been able to compete with the Big East.  The story that needs to be told is how the "weak" Big 12 conference now has two teams in the Elite Eight.

Deserved or not, the Big 12 had three seeds in the 7-10 range and, despite the awful positioning, competed well against great competition.  Texas easily beat Minnesota in their first round game and, if not for poor coaching (shooting threes when they needed just twos), may have beaten Duke. 

Oklahoma State beat the "lucky" Volunteers (all I heard about them was how their great computer profile got them in) and actually were beating Pitt most of the game with red-hot hands from their guards. 

Texas A&M beat the Cougars (who are in the overrated Mountain West) and then did what most 8-9 seeds do and got destroyed by UConn. 

Missouri is ready to face Connecticut.  The national consensus is that they will get killed by what is now feared as the best No. 1 team in the nation.  While that may happen, it also probably won't. 

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Hasheem Thabeet will be running, huffing, and puffing down the court against a Missouri offense/defense that won't stop running.  Thabeet may be a beast, but with five minutes left in the second half, he is just like everybody else against Missouri. and that is exhausted.  My money would be on UConn, but if I had to choose, I wouldn't put any money down at all. 

Oklahoma put doubters to rest by beating Big East powerhouse Syracuse in the Sweet 16.  About half of America picked the Orange, probably more.  The Sooners defeated the Orange in every aspect of the game. 

Blake Griffin put up POY numbers, while Tony Crocker put up 28.  They also have super frosh Willie Warren and point Austin Johnson.  They are stacked with guards and the Griffin brothers in the post.  National title contenders?  Yes. 

The key test will be UNC. This matchup may make the Sooners regret not winning the Big 12 to earn the No. 1 seed.  That will be their hardest challenge in the tournament. 

The Big 12 has a case for the second best conference officially.  Baylor is in the Final Four of the NIT and they will probably win.  Texas Tech Red Raiders, the worst team in the conference, beat Kansas and Texas A&M.  Nebraska and Kansas State both had their moments in the regular season defeating current tournament teams, such as Missouri and Texas. 

The Big 12 will be a question mark heading into next season.  Kansas will be a national title contender, but only if Collins and/or Aldrich stay.  Missouri is a question mark with their key senior losses in Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, and Oklahoma will be a completely different team without the Griffin Brothers. 

Before you debate who is better, the ACC or the Big East, remember the Big 12 may be better than the ACC in the first place. 

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