Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The real Big 12 winner: basketball
By Jeff Caplan
Kansas coach Bill Self was right. Kansas did land in a BCS conference, maybe just not the one he envisioned when the Big 12 was considered dead.
The Big 12 is alive and by shrinking to 10 teams without Nebraska and Colorado, Big 12 helps hoops actually grew tougher.
The league completed a banner year last season. The Big 12 had the best winning percentage (30-18) amongst the six major conferences when playing each other. Three teams placed in the top eight and four among the top 13 of the final NCAA RPI ratings and seven teams advanced to the NCAA tournament. As many as nine Big 12 players could be selected in the first round of the NBA draft next week.
When the Big 12 officially begins play as a 10-team league, it will lose two of its worst teams in Nebraska and Colorado. Those teams combined to win eight conference games last year, or fewer than the conference's top seven teams.
Add to that an 18-game, round-robin conference schedule as opposed to the 16-game schedule in which teams in the same division faced each another twice, but played the other division teams just once. Now, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will face Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State twice. It also allows for all 10 teams to visit each Big 12 arena every year instead of every other year.
"When it comes to the specifics of men's basketball in the new 10-team Big 12 Conference, our staff is most excited about the possibility of using a full round-robin schedule during the regular season," Texas coach Rick Barnes said in a release. "This should create even more excitement about our league, and we know the fans will appreciate the opportunity to see a home-and-home series between all teams in the conference every year."