Friday, March 12, 2010
Ten observations from the Big 12 tourney
By Andy Katz
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A quick rundown from the end of the night here:
1. Baylor can win multiple games in the NCAA tournament. Heck, the Bears are talented enough to win this tournament. The Bears played with more passion and had an edge to them against Texas that I hadn’t seen much of this season. The Bears were quick to emphatically rub it against the Longhorns, which certainly raised the Horns' anger level. Damion James got a frustration technical, demonstrating how hard it was for him to control his emotions.
2. Ekpe Udoh has had a solid year for the Bears. Can you imagine had he stayed at Michigan? If he had, the Wolverines wouldn’t be looking for scraps at this juncture. Udoh is a live wire who can play around the basket. Texas couldn’t touch him as he scored 25 points, making 7 of 8 free throws.
3. Baylor’s guards are talented enough to keep the Bears in contention for a few weeks. LaceDarius Dunn had three fouls and was a non-factor in the first half, yet finished with 19 points and nine boards. Meanwhile, Tweety Carter scored 20 points to compliment Dunn in the backcourt. The Bears didn’t get much off the bench but didn’t need to as they continued to be efficient.
4. Is there another team in the country that is heading into the NCAA tournament on more of a slide than Texas? The Longhorns will get in and could be a double-digit seed at this rate. Texas has lost three of its past five games, two of which were to Baylor. The Longhorns look like a team that is filled with mismatched parts, has lost its confidence and is incredibly frustrated. I’m not sure I’ve seen a team collapse like this down the stretch.
5. The Big 12 dream scenario is a Kansas State-Kansas title game Saturday night. You won’t be able to get a ticket here at the Sprint Center if that occurs. But to sleep on the gritty Aggies of Texas A&M or to dismiss this athletic Baylor crew would be a major mistake. Sure an A&M-Baylor matchup won’t do much for attendance but it would pit two teams that could make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
6. Clearly, the Big 12 got its four best teams in the semifinals. Ultimately, that’s what you want. You want your best on display and playing well going into the NCAAs with the best chance to advance. KU, K-State, Baylor and Texas A&M all have the look of Sweet 16 teams. Of course, KU is the favorite for the national title and K-State could be a real threat to land in Indy as well.
7. While the Big 12 has seven likely locks for the Dance, how about the way Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma State leave Kansas City? None of them can feel too great about their mojo going into the Dance. If they win their first-round game it could be a surprise.
8. Kansas State got its edge back by crushing Oklahoma State. The Wildcats will be a tough out if they run, defend, board and continue to share the ball.
9. Kansas is Kansas. The Jayhawks were pushed in the first half by Texas Tech. But the Jayhawks are tough enough to be refocused and shut down a team they should beat.
10. One thing is certain at the end of the night: Baylor and Texas don’t like each other. And this rivalry will only get more intense.