Dallas Colleges: Big 12 Championship

Big run puts Big Red up 7-0

December, 4, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Helloooooo, Roy Helu Jr. The Nebraska back zipped 66 yards through the Oklahoma Sooners defense to give the Cornhuskers the lead with8:39 to go in the first quarter.

That's the kind of help hurt Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez is going to need if Big Red is going to move onto the Fiesta Bowl.

On two drives, the Sooners offense has managed just 40 yards and one first down.

Exiting Big 12 risks UT's home cooking

May, 26, 2010
At some point, and probably sooner than later, the Big Ten is going to grow. Sure, you've heard Missouri and Nebraska as the likely candidates to flee the Big 12 for the "greener" pastures of the Big Ten and its lucrative TV network.

But, let's get real. The Big Ten wants powerful Texas over them all. UT has the academic standing, the fan base, a sold-out 100,000-seat stadium and all those big-city Texas television sets that make Big Ten officials salivate.

Talk of Texas to the Big Ten was a conversation topic at the Rose Bowl during the national championship week. But, I've never believed Texas would find a better life in the Big Ten as opposed to the Big 12. Here's why: Take a look at Texas' annual favorable football schedule. The conference's largest athletic budget -- heck, the nation's largest athletic budget -- spends next-to-nothing on travel, not to mention the tremendous road-game accessibility for its more-than-ever rabid fans.

The 2010 football schedule includes 10 of 12 games in the state of Texas. Seven games are in Austin. The season opener against Rice is at Houston's Reliant Stadium. Who's the home team is in that game? The Longhorns play at Texas Tech in Lubbock and against Oklahoma in Dallas. Their only other road games are at Kansas State and at Nebraska. That's it.

In 2009, Texas played 9 of 12 regular-season games in Texas, plus the Big 12 title game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Again, home team? Against Baylor at Waco, Floyd Casey Stadium, 90 minutes north of Austin and barely that south of Dallas-Fort Worth, shimmers with burnt orange. In 2008, 10 of 12 games were played in Texas, and 9 of 12 in 2007.

Football is one thing, but the bigger travel factor comes down to the seven men's and 10 women's non-revenue sports. Joining the Big Ten would be a logistical and budgetary nightmare. This week's Big Ten baseball tournament is in Columbus, Ohio. The Big 12 baseball tourney starts today at Oklahoma City.

I haven't worked out the financial figures, but take those 17 non-revenue teams and tally up airfare and buses to travel to and around Columbus, Chicago, Champagne, Ill., Minneapolis, State College, Pa., Ann Arbor, Mich., East Lansing, Mich., Bloomington, Ind., West Lafayette, Ind., Madison, Wis., and Iowa City, Iowa.

Now, want to talk travel and weather, especially for men's and women's basketball in the dead of a Midwest winter? And how about all that additional lost class time for those student-athletes due to travel that the NCAA seems so stressed out about whenever the subject is a football playoff?

As attractive as it sounds to play annual football games against Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, the overall picture would seem to make little sense for Texas to take its substantial muscle to the heartland.

Emptying the Big 12 tourney notebook...

March, 13, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Baylor coach Scott Drew has certainly learned how to take a punch or two and so has his team. The Bears bowed out of the Big 12 tournament Friday night with an 82-75 loss to Kansas State in a tremendous game.

Baylor, 25-7, still hasn't lost by more than seven points, but it will need to win an NCAA tournament game to set a new school record with a 26th victory. The last time the Bears won a tournament game? 1950 (56-55 over BYU) when the bracket included eight teams.

The good news for the Bears is they have yet to lose consecutive games this season.

Baylor dearly wanted a second consecutive title game appearance, but they're not done yet. Some inside the Baylor program believe a 3-seed is coming Sunday when the selection committee reveals the 65-team NCAA Tournament bracket. Wherever the Bears land, they learned Friday night, as they have all season, that they'll be a tough out.

"This was a great experience," Baylor power forward Ekpe Udoh said. "Basically, we played an away game up here in Kansas City. Towards the end of the game I think we kind of lost our mojo. It's something you can't have happen from here on out and we're going to learn from that. In the tournament, if you slip up one time you go home."

Udoh will have decision to make
Ekpe Udoh is widely regarded as a lottery pick in June's NBA Draft and he only enhanced his stock at the Big 12 tournament. The 6-foot-10 junior power forward averaged 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games. The Big 12's new shot-blocking king chewed up Texas for 25 points and eight rebounds.

Rule of thumb for draft prospects is if you're a lock to be a first-round pick, then go grab the guaranteed money. If Udoh trusts he'll be a lottery pick (sorry Baylor fans) it should make that decision easier. The money is too good and with an impeding lockout looming in 2011-12 and impending salary restructuring once the NBA re-opens for business, this might be the time to maximize dollars.

Is Baylor's Jerome Tang head-coaching material?
Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw thinks so: "He's really matured as a coach. I see him being a head coach in the very near future."

Coach Scott Drew made Tang one of his first hires seven years ago, plucking him from controversial Heritage Christian, a small-private school near Houston that had a reputation as a basketball factory. Tang also didn't have a college degree when hired, a prerequisite at Baylor (and most universities) in the past. Since, Tang received a Bachelor of Science degree from Charter Oak State College, an online program.

Clip and save
Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn will lead the Big 12 in scoring next season and will win Player of the Year honors. Along the way, he'll likely become Baylor's all-time leading scorer.

He already holds school records for most 3-pointers in a game, season and career.

"You know, Anderson was great this year, he scored consistently, and Lace scored consistently, so it was a toss-up on who should have got it this year," said Baylor senior guard Tweety Carter, referring to Oklahoma State's James Anderson, the Big 12's Player of the Year. "I'm pretty sure that next year he'll get it."

Texas less than its parts
Texas coach Rick Barnes called the ugly quarterfinal loss to Baylor a microcosm of the season: a few minutes of scatterbrained play and then the Horns panic and lose all ability to execute. The Bears buried Texas with a 13-2 to run to open the second half and you could see in the Horns' body language and frustration how their spirit was crushed.

"Like coach says, we don't play together sometimes," center Dexter Pittman said. "Once we start playing together, we'll be unstoppable and untouchable, but, man, we just got to go back to that."

It would appear it is too late. Junior forward Gary Johnson summed up the disappointing situation best.

"When you have a team full of guys with as much talent as we do, it's hard to give each guy a role, like you have to do this when a guy feels like he could do other things," Johnson said. "At times, guys feel like they can do everything on this team and it just isn't the right decision at that moment. Guys know their roles, but it's like a panic factor and guys try to go out and do other things that they're not capable of and we find ourselves in deep holes."

Red Raiders to NIT?
Caach Pat Knight hit the campaign trail hard at the Big 12 tournament, determined to get the Red Raiders into the NIT.

Knight said it would be a "shame" if the NIT ignored the 17-win Raiders out of the top-rated RPI conference in the nation. Tech's chances didn't look good after losing their final seven regular-season game, but it proved it belonged after putting a scare into top-seeded Kansas in the quarterfinal.

The last time Tech went to the NIT under Bob Knight it made it to the final four in New York and rode the momentum to a trip to the NCAA Tournament the following season (much like Baylor this season). It could happen again. Tech will be a senior-dominated team in 2010-11 and returns four of its top five scorers, including its top two in Mike Singletary and John Roberson.

If Tech gets in, it would give the Big 12 eight teams in postseason play -- assuming other tournament upsets don't leave Oklahoma State out. The Cowboys should be able to breath easy.

A&M star in making?
Texas A&M has to be excited about the future of freshman Khris Middleton. The 6-foot-7 forward from North Charleston, S.C., had a breakout in two games in Kansas City.

Having averaged 6.7 points a game during the regular season, he dropped 31 combined against Nebraska and Kansas, making 10-of-19 from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point range. One weakness? Turnovers. He had eight in the two games.

With scoring leader Donald Sloan graduating, Middleton looks poised to take over as a No. 1 scoring option.

So long, Mr. Killian
After 23 years working in the Texas A&M media relations office, Colin Killian will hang 'em up after the NCAA tournament. He's accepted a job with the city of College Station. Killian has an 8-year-old son and while the new gig won't be as exciting as Texas A&M hoops has become the past five years, it will have its perks -- namely no work at night or weekends or holidays and no travel.

Good luck, Colin.

Is Oregon tugging at Turgeon?
Oregon basketball coach Ernie Kent isn't officially out, but the writing is on the wall. Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon has come up as a possible replacement. Turgeon was a Ducks assistant from 1992-97. Unless Oregon is tugging at the Topeka, Kan., native, A&M is a better job and the Big 12 is a better conference.

Roland hoping for one more year
First-class A&M senior Derrick Roland is hopeful the NCAA will grant him a medical redshirt and allow him to return to the Aggies next season.

The shooting guard from Seagoville broke his leg during a late-December game in Washington and is out for the season after undergoing surgery. Remarkably, he is already walking around as if nothing happened as he continues a grueling daily rehabilitation process.

"Hopefully the NCAA has some sympathy for me," Roland said. "It would give me the opportunity to graduate and that's important to my family."

Roland said if he's not granted an extra year of eligibility he will try to complete his degree during the summer.

A&M's Dash Harris says he'll be ready

March, 12, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Texas A&M starting point guard Dash Harris missed both Big 12 tournament games with a bone bruise in his right wrist, but he said he'll be ready when the Aggies open play in the NCAA tournament Thursday or Friday.

"That's a lot of time off and with these couple of days that I had off," Harris said. "I'm just resting and rehabbing, icing up and stuff like that," Harris said. "That should be enough time off. I'm just taking it day by day and hoping it will get better."

B.J. Holmes played well in Harris' absence, but getting Harris back will allow coach Mark Turgeon to return to his usual rotation with Holmes coming off the bench. It will also ease foul-trouble situations such as in Friday's semifinal loss to Kansas. Turgeon had nowhere to turn when Donald Sloan was forced to the bench with three fouls at the 17:22 mark of the second half.

Sloan sat briefly twice in the second half and both times Kansas made runs.

Aggies hot, but fast pace could hurt

March, 12, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Texas A&M is smoking from the field, hitting on 11-of-18 and 2-of-4 on 3-pointers, but Kansas is even hotter, nailing 10-of-15 shots and 4-of-7 from long range. The Jayhawks hold a one-point lead, 26-25, in a fast-paced game with 7:23 left in the first half.

That pace could prove detrimental to the Aggies, who figured to need to keep this game in the 50s to have a chance to win. Both clubs are already half way there. A&M doesn't play an up-tempo game and without point guard Dash Harris (wrist), they're shorthanded.

We'll see if A&M coach Mark Turgeon tries to slow this thing down and reduce the number of possessions.

Texas frosh trio might not return intact

March, 12, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Avery Bradley has clearly had the best season of the three heralded Texas freshman guards this season.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Bradley started 31 of 33 games. He averaged 11.7 points, shot 43.9 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Coach Rick Barnes has praised his defense. J'Covan Brown is having trouble getting off the bench these days and Jordan Hamilton is a one-dimensional perimeter shooter who runs hot and cold.

Bradley, out of Tacoma, Wash., is projected as a possible late lottery pick in the June NBA Draft. It's difficult to understand the infatuation of a freshman player lacking great size with decent numbers on a team that fractured. Yet, DraftExpress.com, a professional scouting service, continues to spot Bradley as the 21st selection of 30 first-round picks. At ESPN.com, Bradley is rated as the third-best shooting guard in the draft, the 15th-best player overall and is classified as a late lottery to mid-first round pick.

Rule of thumb for draft prospects is if you're a lock to go the first round then grab the guaranteed money. That's even more on the money -- so to speak -- this year with an impending lockout looming the following season and the real possibility of those rookie contracts dropping in value when the NBA re-opens for business.

Those factors could make it tough for Bradley to stay. I don't really get it, but it will be interesting.

Texans truly lone stars up against Kansans

March, 12, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- OK, so this isn't exactly a border war.

But, the boys from Texas will definitely know they're still in Kansas during tonight's Big 12 tournament semifinal games. No. 4 Texas A&M faces No. 1 Kansas State at 6 p.m., followed by No. 3 Baylor against No. 2 Kansas State.

With the weekend here, the crowd at the Sprint Center is expected to be big and biased.

"Is that helpful or not, I don't know," said Kansas State coach Frank Martin, whose team won a non-conference game in the arena earlier this season. "It's great for our fans. Two years ago, my first-time ever in a Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, we had a tremendous following, so I hope it's advantageous for us in some way, shape or form."

Partisan crowds can certainly provide a home-court feel, but they can only do so much. To no suprise, Kansas easily produced the largest crowd yet of the tournament, practically filling the 18,000-seat arena Thursday with a sea of blue and red. But, Texas Tech did a great job quieting the building by keeping the score close and putting a scare in the Jayhawks followers before finally succumbing.

"We won't care what comes out of the stands. We know there will be a lot of Jayhawks in here," A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "But we've become a pretty good road team down the stretch. We've won four of our last five road games. We'll treat it like a road game. We'll have that approach to it."

One of those road wins snapped Missouri's 32-game home win streak. And the Aggies' seniors, including starters Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, have something else to use as motivation. They remember 2007 when A&M went into Allen Fieldhouse and became the first -- and last -- Big 12 South team to defeat Kansas on its home floor.

A&M seniors crank out record 99th win

March, 11, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Texas A&M's quarterfinal victory over Nebraska goes down as win No. 99 for the senior class, a program record.

Last year's senior class, which comprised Josh Carter, reached 98 wins, a tally started under former coach Billy Gillispie.

This year's seniors include All-Big 12 first-teamer Donald Sloan, starting forward Bryan Davis, injured starter Derrick Roland -- all three hail from the Dallas area -- plus Shawn Schepel and Chris Chapman. This group will be the second consecutive class to advance to the NCAA Tournament in all four years. This season will give the program an unprecedented fifth consecutive trip.

Sloan said the continued success legitimizes the program after many felt it would falter after players such as Acie Law, Dominique Kirk and Joseph Jones left, as well as Gillispie, left the program.

"It means a lot," Sloan said. "The last four years hasn't always been pretty, not by any means, but now we don't have to share it with anybody."

The group will go for an even 100 in Friday's quarterfinal against top-seeded Kansas at 6 p.m. That's an average of 25 wins a season. Win or lose to the Jayhawks, the seniors can extend the record some more next week.

Just how impressive is that for a once down-and-out program? Consider this from a long-time employee of the athletic department: "It used to take us a decade to get to 100 wins."

A&M halfway to meeting with Kansas

March, 11, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Donald Sloan drained a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half to give him a team-high 12 points and the fourth-seeded Aggies a 37-28 lead. It was a big momentum shift as Nebraska was trying to cut Texas A&M's lead to two points in the final 30 seconds but turned it over to set up Sloan's bucket.

A&M got off to a quick 8-2 start and led by as many 12 points while playing without starting point guard Dash Harris (wrist). B.J. Holmes replaced Harris in the starting lineup and contributed eight points and two assists. Sloan and Holmes have combined to hit 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Nebraska shot 55.6 percent from the floor (10-of-18) but attempted eight fewer shots than the Aggies, who will get a rematch with No. 1 Kansas in Friday's semifinal if they put away the Cornhuskers.

Injured wrist will sideline A&M's Harris

March, 11, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Texas A&M will play without starting point guard Dash Harris because of a bone bruise in his right wrist suffered in the regular-season finale at Oklahoma, combined with ongoing tendinitis in the same wrist.

The fourth-seeded Aggies face No. 12 Nebraska at 2:05 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.

Harris averages 26.4 minutes and led the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio before the tendinitis kicked in in early February. Harris was averaging 5.0 points and 3.0 assists, but more important, he's the club's floor lead. B.J. Holmes will get his fourth start of the year in Harris' place. Holmes, a 37.8-percent 3-point shooter, is averaging 9.2 points a game.

Barnes still going with no necktie

March, 10, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- I used to think Rick Barnes ditched his tie a while back to keep from strangling himself. Who knows, maybe that's right. His Longhorns have certainly given him ample cause this season.

It's hard to tell if Texas looks loose, tight or indifferent as they get set to tip it off against Iowa State.

The pressure is on the Horns. Another loss and forget about flicking any switch before the NCAA Tournament. Win and they get another shot at Baylor and a chance to set a tone for next week.

We'll soon find out.

Tweety's Baylor run culminating in style

March, 10, 2010
The Baylor Bears are trying something new. They're taking Wednesday off, save for a tune-up practice in Kansas City. They've earned it. The third-seeded Bears have a bye for for the first time in the 14 years of the Big 12 tournament.

When the Bears (24-6) open play Thursday night against the Texas-Iowa State winner (and how many Baylor fans would love to see the Bears go for a three-peat of the Horns?), it will begin the final countdown for senior point guard Tweety Carter.

Carter, A 5-11, do-it-all dynamo from Reserve, La., has had a spectacular final season, averaging 15.8 points and leading the conference with 6.3 assists. He's increased his scoring by 5.2 points over last season and has dished out 150 more assists. He's shooting 39 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, always his specialty, but he's also now a significant threat inside the arc. He also brings a tenacious energy at the other end of the floor in the Bears' 2-3 zone defense.

[+] EnlargeTweety Carter
AP Photo/Rod AydelotteTweety Carter (right) has played more games in a Baylor uniform than anyone.
Thursday's game will be Carter's 126th in a Baylor uniform, more than anyone who has come before him, and he ranks in the top 10 of 11 major career categories. With two more wins, Carter will lead the Bears to a single-season school record of 26 victories.

"Tweety is somebody who came in a great scorer and now will leave a great point guard and a great defender," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We know how valuable he’s been, and I think most people across the league know how good he is."

Carter, hard-working and highly likable, and junior sharpshooter LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor’s leading scorer at 19.2 points game, comprise the most explosive backcourt in the Big 12, capable of combining for 50 points or more on any given night.

"You’re always going to consider yourself the best, but me and Lace just come out and play hard every night," Carter said. "We let our play allow us to be better than people thought we were going to be."

Said Drew: "We don’t know if they're the most talented, but we know we wouldn’t trade them for anybody in the country. We love them as basketball players and we love them as people. They’ve done a tremendous amount for our program."

After a disappointing Big 12 season a year ago on the heels of the ballyhooed 2008 NCAA tournament berth, Baylor regrouped in the conference tournament, making it all the way to the title game. With an automatic bid on the line, the weary Bears fell to Missouri and settled for the NIT.

They took full advantage, barnstorming to New York City and an appearance in the NIT title game. As often happens with teams that make spirited runs in the NIT, Baylor will jump into the NCAA tournament next week. Few outside the program figured it would happen. With three starters graduating and no one certain that 6-10 transfer Ekpe Udoh would make such a significant impact at both ends, Baylor garnered little respect heading into the season. It was picked 10th in the preseason by the conference's coaches.

But then in nonconference play, the Bears beat Xavier, Arizona State, Arkansas and South Carolina. It wasn't until Baylor took Kansas down to the wire at Allen Fieldhouse that the Big 12 recognized the Bears as a direct threat.

"I knew we had a good team. A lot of people didn't know that," Carter said. "We lost three of our key players and I think a lot of people doubted us, but we stayed together as a team, we worked hard and we believe in each other that we can do a lot of good things."

The Bears never lost a game this season by more than seven points, something no other NCAA Division I team in the nation can say, according to the Baylor media relations department.

If Baylor gets past Texas or Iowa State, it could get a rematch in the semifinals against Kansas State, which won by two points in a gut-wrencher in Waco. And of course, No. 1 Kansas sits in the opposite bracket as a potential championship game matchup.

Baylor beat the top-seeded Jayhawks in last season's quarterfinal round on its way to the final.

"We'll take it one game at a time, go out there and compete like we have been all season and stay together," Carter said. "This team will come ready to play every game. As long as we keep doing that we can compete with anybody."

Bears, Ags out to prove worth in tourney

March, 8, 2010
In the game of perception and the polls, No. 9 Kansas State (24-6, 11-5 Big 12) fared much better than No. 20 Baylor (24-6, 11-5) and No. 24 Texas A&M (22-8, 11-5).

Even though all three teams finished with the same conference record and they go into this week's Big 12 Championship with K-State as the No. 2 seed, Baylor the No. 3 seed and A&M the No. 4 seed, the interesting thing is the writers who vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the coaches who cast ballots in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll saw eye-to-eye in determining the wide gap in the rankings (rankings used above are ESPN/USA Today).

The Wildcats jumped into both polls on Dec. 14, debuting at No. 22 in the coaches poll and No. 17 in the AP poll. From there it was a steady climb up as high as No. 5 until consecutive losses to end the regular-season set K-State back to No. 9 entering this week's Big 12 Championship.

Baylor enters its ninth consecutive week in the AP poll, having bobbed between Nos. 20-24, despite closing the season with a four-game win streak. A&M made the earliest jump of the three into the polls on Nov. 30 and reached as high as No. 16 in the AP poll (Dec. 7) and No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today poll (Dec. 7) before falling back and eventually out. The Aggies didn't get back into the polls until Feb. 15 and have spent the last four weeks shuffling between Nos. 22 and 24, despite winning four of their last five games.

So what separates the three? Not RPI. According to RPI rankings at NCAAsports.com, K-State holds down No. 6, Baylor is No. 8 and A&M is No. 12. Virtually no difference.

Let's examine head-to-head matchups: K-State crushed A&M at home early on and nipped Baylor by two in Waco. The Bears and Aggies split their two-game season series.

In conference, K-State beat Texas when it was still No. 1, lost by two at home to No. 1 Kansas and was blown out at Kansas. A&M split with Texas and let one get away at home against Kansas. Baylor, which has not lost this season by more than seven points, beat Texas twice and took Kansas to the wire in Lawrence. The Bears lost at Colorado at the beginning of the Big 12 season and K-State was shocked at home by Iowa State to end the season.

OK, how about non-conference wins? K-State's best wins came at home against Xavier and at Alabama (in Mobile). It lost to Mississippi (in Puerto Rico).

Baylor lost to Alabama in Florida and beat Xavier at the same tournament. The Bears won at Arizona State, at Arkansas (at North Little Rock) and at South Carolina.

A&M beat Clemson and Minnesota and lost to West Virginia in California. The Aggies lost to New Mexico in Houston and at Washington, the game in which senior guard Derrick Roland was lost for the season with a gruesome broken leg early in the second half.

Baylor coach Scott Drew has an idea as to why K-State rose so high while the Bears and Aggies have been stuck despite similar resumes.

"It's extremely hard for any school in the Big 12 to put together a consistent win streak because the competition is so good, so it's hard to move up the polls when it's tough to get consecutive wins in the Big 12," Drew said. "Voters tend to not move you up when you're 1-1 during the week instead of 2-0."

Fair point. And he might be right. Of the three teams, K-State enjoyed the longest in-conference win streak of seven games right in the heart of the conference schedule. The run included wins over Nebraska twice, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Missouri. A&M went 8-0 against those teams, but it's longest win streak was four games. Baylor went 7-1 against those teams, but it's best run was four consecutive wins to end the regular season.

So while K-State didn't lose for three weeks during the meat of the season and rode the polls to No. 5, A&M and Baylor, while steadily winning, weren't putting together eye-popping streaks and remained relatively stagnant in the polls. Those rankings will have a say in NCAA Tournament seeding and that can mean the difference in a one-weekend-and-done or a trip to the Sweet 16.

"It's all part of the process," A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "I think it takes time, nationally. A&M and Baylor were down -- we've been back longer than they have, we're going on five years now, hopefully, in the NCAA Tournament -- but it takes time. You can't get caught up in that. You always have a chance to earn respect and we have a chance over the next few weeks to do that."

Baylor makes history, might see UT again

March, 6, 2010

What a reversal of seasons. No. 22 Baylor was picked by Big 12 coaches to finish 10th in the conference. No. 25 Texas, once upon a time the nation's No. 1 team, was picked to finish second.

After Baylor's second beat down of Texas on Saturday, 92-77, at a sold-out Ferrell Center in Waco, it was the Bears (24-6, 11-5 Big 12) securing their first-ever Big 12 Championship bye and earning the No. 3 seed, while it was those confounding Longhorns (23-8, 9-7), losers of eight of their last 14, settling for the No. 6 seed and a first-day matchup Wednesday against No. 11 Iowa State.

"Coming in [to this season] we knew that this team was capable of a lot," Baylor coach and Coach of the Year candidate Scott Drew said prior to Saturay's game. "I know the players believed in themselves and we thought the work ethic and chemistry was good so we expected a lot this year."

The surprising Bears, who lost in the NIT championship game last season, might be the most complete team of the Big 12 South entries. They're getting spectacular guard play from sharpshooters LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, boast excellent interior defense with Newcomer of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ekpe Udoh and other contributors such as Quincy Acywho know their roles and perform them perfectly.

It was just a year ago that the Bears dragged a 24-game losing streak to Texas into the Big 12 tournament. Baylor finally prevailed, 76-70, and now might get the chance to make it four in a row if the Horns defeat Iowa State. Baylor will sit back and await the winner of that matchup.

The other first-round byes belong to regular-season champion Kansas, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 4 Texas A&M, which won it's 11th conference game Saturday at Oklahoma.

The Aggies, led by determined senior guard Donald Sloan and senior post Bryan Davis, will face either Missouri or Nebraska. A&M ended Missouri's home winning streak at 32 games earlier this season.

The Big 12 remains poised to send seven teams to the NCAA Tournament. The only way that changes is if one of the Nos. 8-12 seeds wins the tournament championship. In 13 prior Big 12 Championships, no team lower than the No. 3 seed has won the title.

Here's a look at the matchups:

Wednesday's first round
8 Colorado vs. 9 Texas Tech, 11:30 a.m. (Big 12 Network - KTXA/Ch. 21)

5 Missouri vs. 12 Nebraska, 2 p.m. (Ch. 21)

7 Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma, 6 p.m. (Ch. 21)

6 Texas vs. 11 Iowa State, 8:30 p.m. (Ch. 21)

Thursday's Quarterfinals

1 Kansas vs. Colorado/Texas Tech winner, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

4 Texas A&M vs. Missouri/Nebraska winner, 2 p.m. (Ch. 21)

2 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State winner, 6 p.m. (Ch. 21)

3 Baylor vs. Texas/Iowa State winner, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Friday's semifinals

6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (Ch. 21)

Saturday's championship

5 p.m. (ESPN)

A&M win locks up bye, locks out Texas

March, 6, 2010
The Texas Longhorns will play on the first day of the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City on Wednesday.

Texas A&M earned itself a first-round bye and sealed Texas' fate by taking care of business at Oklahoma earlier this afternoon.

The best Texas can finish is fifth with a win at Baylor. Tip-off is minutes away (3 p.m.) on ESPN.

Of course, the Bears have their own first-round bye to take care of. A win over Texas gives the Bears the series sweep, the No. 3 seed and a first-ever bye in the Big 12 tourney (while Texas would settle for sixth place). Baylor would join No. 1-seed Kansas, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 4 A&M.

If Baylor loses to Texas, Missouri would slide into the No. 4 seed and gain the all-important final bye.

Of course, that five-seed might not be too bad for Texas. The Horns would face No. 12 Nebraska at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Texas trounced the Huskers by 40 a couple weeks ago in Austin.

Other seeds already set:

*No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10, 6 p.m., Wednesday.

*No. 6 seed vs. No. 11 Iowa State, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday.