|ESPN.com: Champ Week 2008||[Print without images]|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Texas and Kansas will meet Sunday in what is evolving into the Big 12's clash of basketball titans.It might not matter much in the grand scheme of most bracketologists -- particularly those who matter the most. It's hard to believe the NCAA selection committee will break out the Liquid Paper for a major late revision based on the final results of the Big 12's championship game that will end less than an hour before their show airs. Which is a shame. Because in its own way, the annual battle between the Longhorns and Jayhawks is evolving into the kind of rivalry that at least bears mention with Duke-North Carolina, Stanford-UCLA or Tennessee-Kentucky among college basketball's best. Most mock brackets have the Longhorns and Jayhawks both as solid second seeds after Saturday's semifinal victories. Texas looked much better in its 77-49 thrashing of Oklahoma than Kansas, which needed a huge game from Brandon Rush to claim a grinding 77-71 triumph over Texas A&M. But it's hard to believe Sunday's results will attract much notice from those sequestered in the Indianapolis hotel meeting room that everybody in college basketball is concerned about. "I'd like to think that whoever wins the game tomorrow is among the top four teams in the country," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "But I don't want to tell the committee how to do its job."
|Texas was able to roll into the Big 12 final by routing rival Oklahoma, 77-49.|
--Kansas guard Sherron Collins
Texas claimed a 72-69 victory in Austin on Feb. 11 over the then-No. 3 Jayhawks that enabled the Horns to claim a share of the Big 12 regular-season title.The Jayhawks remember that game because they were uncharacteristically pummeled inside -- by Texas forward Damion James, who grabbed all 13 of his rebounds in the second half. Sunday's game also will be an interesting matchup of strong backcourts that boast best players who have been peaking late in the season. Texas guard D.J. Augustin has overcome a midseason slump that crested in a 1-for-13 shooting slump against the Jayhawks in the first game. Since then, he has averaged 21.2 points and five assists per game. "Where he's really improved so much in the last month is his concentration," Barnes said. "I thought he was masterful with the way he worked the game for us." The Jayhawks have received their own backcourt lift since the first Texas game, courtesy of the return to form of guard Sherron Collins. Even though he still hasn't cracked the starting lineup, Collins has been the pivotal player in Kansas' recent spurt.
|Kansas has received a lift from Sherron Collins.|