Dallas Colleges: Baylor
They’re also both one win away from an NIT title.
Neither team has won this tournament before. The Bears and Hawkeyes are trying to make history, and finish their seasons on a winning note.
Baylor advanced first, defeating BYU 76-70 in the first game of Tuesday night's doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. The Bears led by just two at halftime, and three with just under five minutes remaining, before Pierre Jackson scored seven straight points to help Baylor pull away.
The electrifying 5-foot-10 senior scored a game-high 24 points -- 15 of them coming in the second half -- and also had 10 assists. "Pierre is like a time bomb," said Baylor coach Scott Drew. "You just wait for him to go off. He had a nice spurt there and that gave us a cushion."
"I thought one of the keys to the game was how we came out, in particular with Dev offensively," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. "We got into a flow early, and then the same thing late, kept everything going."
What we're left with is a championship game in midtown Manhattan between schools from Waco, Texas and Iowa City, Iowa -- 1,627 and 995 miles away, respectively.
It's also a matchup between one of the best offensive teams in the country and one of the best defensive teams. Baylor entered Tuesday night's game ranked 21st in the nation in scoring, at 76 points per contest. Iowa was ranked 18th in defensive field goal percentage, at 38.8.
Makes for an intriguing matchup Thursday night at MSG.
Both these teams dealt with disappointment this year. Baylor was picked to finish second in the Big 12, but ended up in sixth. Iowa finished ahead of Illinois and Minnesota in the Big Ten standings, yet those schools went to the Big Dance, while the Hawkeyes were left out.
Nevertheless, Baylor and Iowa are two of the last college teams still in action in the first week of April. And the players sound pumped up about it.
"It feels good. We've got one more," said Jackson. "If we win on Thursday, I’ll probably be shaking because I’m too excited."
"It means a lot to me and the team and our program," said Marble. "A lot of teams look down upon [the NIT] because they didn't get into the other tournament, but we just looked at it as another opportunity to win a championship."
Will Brittney Griner and the Baylor Lady Bears defend their title in the NCAA Women's Tournament. President Barack Obama fills out his bracket, and has Baylor meeting Notre Dame in the final. Who wins? Watch above.
From 2008 to 2011, the Big 12 produced at least one quarterback taken in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. In fact, in those four drafts the Big 12 has had five first-round quarterbacks selected and one in the third round. The 2012 crop of Big 12 quarterbacks -- Collin Klein, Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Nick Florence, heck even Seth Doege -- may not be locks to be first-round picks, but they were prolific in college.
Heading into 2013 it is not that the Big 12’s brightly burning quarterback flame has been extinguished so much as it has been reduced to the size of a pocket lighter. There still might be some talent. But the Big 12, long a passing league, has been left with a collection of quarterbacks who have yet to fully prove their ability or even make it to their senior years. (Well, TCU’s Casey Pachall has but not without a significant interruption that very well could have him sitting on the bench watching Trevone Boykin in 2013.)
With all that in mind here are the top five quarterbacks to who could reignite the flame and carry the torch into 2013.
David Ash, Texas. Yeah, we get it. Flame. Ash. Ha, ha. But on the serious side of things Ash is poised to have a breakout year for Texas. He has started 18 games in his career and finally, after yo-yoing back and forth with Case McCoy, has the full support of the coaching staff. Ash finished 21st nationally in passing efficiency last season and was the highest-rated underclassman in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh. (Walsh, who is in a quarterback battle, finished fourth in passing efficiency.)
With Texas making the move to a tempo/spread offense, Ash will have more of an opportunity to pile up stats. He is also leading an offense that has nine starters returning.
Wes Lunt or J.W, Walsh, Oklahoma State: Lunt won the starting job last season and proved to be the right selection until he was hurt. Walsh proved to be a very solid starter until he was hurt. Even Clint Chelf proved to be a solid starter and finished with 15 touchdowns versus six interceptions.
Coach Mike Gundy will likely go with either Lunt or Walsh. Walsh brings more of a dual threat to the backfield. Lunt has a bigger arm but he had seven touchdowns and six interceptions in his five starts. Whoever fits into the Oklahoma State system will undoubtedly be one of the top passers in the Big 12 because the offense is constructed to pile up stats.
Bryce Petty, Baylor: OK, he drew a Tim Tebow comparison. Yes, already. Yes, it is only spring. No, they have not started to chisel away at the statue for the Baylor campus just yet. But the materials might have been ordered.
“Bryce is a freak of nature,” running back Lache Seastrunk told the San Antonio Express-News. “His frame, his build and how he throws the ball looks just like Tebow. And when he gets the ball (and runs), he's not going to try to surprise you. He's going to go right at you like a true running back.’’
Petty has only made it into 11 games over the past two seasons, completing 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards. But given what Art Briles has been able to do with quarterbacks there is little doubt his numbers will explode this season. He probably will not be able to keep with the stats posted by RG3 and Florence. But Briles is optimistic about what Petty brings to the game.
"He has everything you're looking for -- size, strength, passion, energy, a great arm and great intelligence,’’ Briles told the Express-News.
Michael Brewer, Texas Tech: Brewer knows the spread and ran it successfully in high school under current Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris. He comes from a family that has a strong football background with his grandfather and dad played quarterback at Texas. Plus he is working with a coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who turned Johnny Manziel into Johnny Football in one season. While Tech doesn’t have near the talent that Texas A&M and Manziel had in 2012 -- the Red Raiders also lost receiver Darrin Moore -- it will have some of the same looks that tend to confuse plodding defenses.
Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall is not guaranteed the starting spot. After he was removed from the program due to a drug and alcohol problem in 2012, Boykin was able to steer TCU to upset wins over Baylor, West Virginia and Texas. He also kept the Horned Frogs close against Oklahoma and Michigan State. But Pachall, who rejoined the team in January, was prolific in his time under center for TCU. In the first four games of 2012 he passed for 948 yards, 10 touchdowns and an interception. He threw for 2,921 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2011.
Others to watch:
Blake Bell, Oklahoma. He has only thrown 20 career passes but has been around the offense for several years.
Paul Millard, West Virginia. WVU coach Dana Holgorsen has not had to break in a new quarterback since his first year at Houston in 2008. So this could get interesting.
Jake Heaps, Kansas. Last year’s heralded transfer, Dayne Crist, was a bust. Heaps was able to sit and learn for a year. It could help him understand the genius that is Charlie Weis.
Jake Walters, Kansas State. He was the top player in junior college in 2012 but might split time with sophomore Daniel Sams.
Tickets for the game are available by calling 214-768-4263 or at Ticketmaster.
Installation of the extra seats is scheduled to begin Sept. 9, the day after the Mustangs' home opener against Stephen F. Austin. SMU's season opener is Sunday at Baylor.
Stonum, who didn't play last season due to disciplinary issues, also indicated on his personal Twitter feed that he is leaving Michigan.
"Wanna thank every1 for all the love n support throughout my career," Stonum wrote on his Twitter feed, @CornellStone22. "Past few months have been tough but I've learned and it's made me a better person.
"That being said, with the blessing and grace of God.... I'm back! Tim to get back to work."
Stonum also updated his Twitter bio to say he was a "current WR at Baylor University."
Read the full story here.
The Bears (49-15) can earn their first trip to the College World Series since 2005 with a win over the Razorbacks (42-20) on Sunday.
Josh Ludy added a home run, while Max Muncy and Cal Towey each had two doubles and a single as Baylor racked up 12 hits against three Arkansas pitchers.
The Bears gave Blank (11-1) an early lead when Razorbacks starter DJ Baxendale (7-5) hit Nathan Orf -- the leadoff hitter's school-record 35th hit by pitch this season -- and Vick followed with a two-run homer.
Ludy added insurance in the third with his team-high 16th homer. Muncy and Towey followed with doubles off the wall in right to make it 4-0.
Vick's two-out homer in the fourth made him only the second Baylor player to homer twice in an NCAA tournament game, and the first to do it in a super regional game. Steve Macko hit a pair against New Orleans in a regional game in 1977.
Dominic Ficociello, who had three of the Razorbacks' seven hits off Blank, ended the shutout bid with an RBI double in the sixth inning.
Los Angeles Super Regional
TCU vs. UCLA (ESPN/ESPN3, 8 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Saturday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 8 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Sunday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 9 p.m. CT) (if necessary)
How they got here: The Horned Frogs shared the Mountain West regular-season title and bounced back from a regional-opening loss to Ole Miss to win four straight at the College Station Regional. TCU hammered Dayton 28-12, then took out Texas A&M 10-2 before back-to-back wins over the Rebels to earn the trip to Los Angeles.
Star player: Just like in 2010, when TCU advanced to Omaha behind the left arm of freshman Matt Purke, frosh Preston Morrison helps lead the way on the mound. The right-hander is 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 10 starts and 11 relief appearances.
Weapon: Jim Schlossnagle's work in Fort Worth over the past decade is nothing short of spectacular. With just two regional berths before 2004, TCU has made the postseason nine straight years and qualified for three super regionals in the past four years, including a trip to Omaha in 2010.
Weakness: Inconsistency has hurt the Horned Frogs. While TCU was often up to the task against top competition, beating Cal State Fullerton, Baylor and Oklahoma before the regional run, it also lost to the likes of San Diego State and UNLV.
How they got here: The Bruins earned the No. 2 national seed on the strength of a 20-10 Pac-12 mark, then dispatched Creighton twice and New Mexico to win the Los Angeles Regional and advance to super regionals for the second time in three years.
Star player: Junior right fielder Jeff Gelalich, a veteran of UCLA's CWS runner-up squad from 2010, was named MVP of the regional last weekend for hitting .455 with two homers and seven RBIs. For the year, he's hitting .372 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs.
Weapon: Youth has been served on the UCLA pitching staff. Reliever David Berg and starter Grant Watson earned freshman All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball this week. Berg, a right-hander, is 5-3 with a 1.71 ERA and has set the Pac-12 record for single-season appearances. Watson, a lefty, is 9-2 while starting 15 games.
Weakness: Go ahead and try to get into a high-scoring battle with the Bruins; it's your best shot. After cleanup hitter Gelalich, the remainder of the UCLA offense has managed 12 home runs in 59 games.
Waco Super Regional
Arkansas vs. Baylor (ESPNU/ESPN3, 4 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Sunday (ESPNU/ESPN3, 3 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Monday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET) (if necessary)
How they got here: The Razorbacks finished 16-14 in the treacherous SEC and won the Houston Regional as a No. 2 seed. Arkansas beat host Rice 1-0 in the key game behind sophomore pitcher Ryan Stanek and topped Sam Houston State in the final.
Star player: Junior third baseman Matt Reynolds leads the Hogs in nearly every offensive category, including batting average (.343), home runs (7), RBIs and (42). He's even stolen 15 bases, another team high.
Weapon: The bullpen doesn't lose many leads behind a trio of sophomore right-handers: Brandon Moore, 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA; Colby Suggs, 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA; and Barrett Astin, who has a team-best 10 saves.
Weakness: Offensively, coach Dave Van Horn's club has struggled to find a rhythm at times. The Razorbacks hit .277 as a team, 138th nationally. Just two regulars are hitting better than .300.
How they got here: The Bears, seeded fourth in the tournament, won the Big 12 at 20-4 after starting league play with 18 straight wins. In the Waco Regional, Baylor lost its opener to Oral Roberts but came back to win four straight, capped by a pair of victories over Dallas Baptist, 9-2 and 8-2.
Star player: Senior catcher Josh Ludy drives a productive offense. He's hitting .368 with a team-best 15 home runs and 69 RBIs.
Weapon: What a luxury for coach Steve Smith to count two ace pitchers. Junior lefty Josh Turley is 9-1 with a 1.83 ERA, and senior right-hander Trent Blank is 10-1 with a 2.32 ERA. Together, they've thrown 200 innings.
Weakness: It remains to be seen whether the Bears' four-game run in regional play signals the start of another hot streak. After losing one game between March 16 and May 9, Baylor then lost seven of 12 until last Saturday.
Columbia Super Regional
Oklahoma vs. South Carolina (ESPNU/ESPN3, 7 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Sunday (ESPNU/ESPN3, 6 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Monday (ESPN2/ESPN3, 6 p.m. CT) (if necessary)
How they got here: The Sooners swept Baylor late and reached final of the Big 12 tournament to secure an at-large regional berth, then lost in the first round to Appalachian State and needed 10 innings to stave off elimination against Army. But OU beat host Virginia and twice got past the Mountaineers to advance.
Star player: Junior center fielder Max White has started 64 of 65 games. He's batting .339 with 55 RBIs.
Weapon: Sophomore Dillon Overton has surged of late to help stabilize an OU pitching staff that has allowed the Sooners to win 24 of 33 games. Overton struck out 11 against Virginia in the Charlottesville Regional and fanned 15 in two appearances at the Big 12 tournament.
Weakness: Behind White and freshman Hunter Lockwood, with 11 home runs, there's not much firepower in the lineup. The Sooners hit .265 as a team and utilize 13 players who have started 10 games or more.
South Carolina (43-17)
How they got here: The two-time defending national champion Gamecocks finished behind only LSU in the SEC standings at 18-11. South Carolina then dispatched Manhattan and beat rival Clemson twice in the Columbia regional to advance.
Star player: Junior first baseman Christian Walker anchors the Carolina lineup. He's hitting .319 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs.
Weapon: Nobody who's playing this weekend has enjoyed postseason success like the Gamecocks. Veterans Walker, Evan Marzilli, Adam Matthews and Michael Roth have played key roles over three years in South Carolina's streak of 19 consecutive wins in NCAA postseason play.
Weakness: Perhaps it's Florida, which fell in two games to South Carolina last year in the CWS finals. Since then, the Gators have defeated the Gamecocks in three of four meetings, including a series win in Columbia in March. Incidentally, South Carolina, seeded No. 8, would meet Florida in an opening-round CWS game if both teams advance to Omaha.
The fourth-seeded Bears (46-15) need wins over Dallas Baptist (41-17) on Sunday night and Monday to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Oral Roberts, which sent Baylor into the losers' bracket with a 4-2 win Friday night before an 11-8 loss to Dallas Baptist on Saturday, ends its season at 38-25.
ORU jumped in front on Jose Trevino's RBI single in the first inning, but Baylor answered in the top of the third on Vick's two-run single.
The Bears added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on Vick's fielder's choice grounder and a looping double down the right-field line by Josh Ludy that got past Logan Domenico as Vick scored from first.
The Bears (45-15), who had their nation-leading 22-game home winning streak snapped Friday night in a 4-2 loss to Oral Roberts, broke a 5-5 tie with two runs in the seventh against reliever Adam Boydston (2-4).
Cal Towey drew a bases-loaded walk and Jake Miller hit an RBI single off third baseman Travis Sibley's glove. The Bears added three in the eighth on Max Muncy's RBI double and a two-run single by Dan Evatt.
Garner (3-2) came on in the sixth and pitched three hitless innings before tiring in the ninth.
UTA (36-25) was making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006.
The Golden Eagles (38-23) advanced to face Dallas Baptist (40-17) on Saturday night in the winners' bracket, while fourth-seeded Baylor (44-15) faces an elimination game against UT-Arlington (36-24).
Oral Roberts, making its 15th straight NCAA tournament appearance, lost a three-game season-opening series in Waco in February, including two on bases-loaded walks in the final inning.
Bowen (7-2) allowed six hits and two runs in six innings.
Turley (9-1) allowed three doubles in the sixth to tie the game, and the go-ahead run scored when Baylor second baseman Lawton Langford threw wildly to home.
The teams will await the results of tonight's game between Oral Roberts and top seed Baylor. No. 2 Dallas Baptist (40-17) faces the winner, and UT-Arlington (36-24) takes on the loser.
Details to come.
Oklahoma State and Texas were national powers. Oklahoma had recently won a national championship (1994). Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Missouri and Baylor were stout, too.
Times, however, have changed.
For the first time since 1997, only four Big 12 teams will participate in NCAA regionals. And had Missouri not secured an automatic berth by winning the Big 12 tournament, that number could have easily been three.
Big 12 regular-season champion Baylor is one of the eight national seeds. Texas A&M also earned the right to host a regional. And Oklahoma, which lost to Missouri in the conference tournament title game, also advanced to the postseason thanks to its late-season surge.
But the rest of the league will watch the regionals from home, including the Cowboys and Longhorns, who both went two-and-out in the Big 12 tournament to seal their exclusion.
Read the rest of the story here.