Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 8:00 AM
Yes, the Big 12 was impressive early in the season. A lot of talent. A lot of athletes. A lot of legitimate results. But, JIM HURLEY is confident based on his read of the league in recent weeks that the Big 12 on the whole isn’t likely to be a big deal in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s look quickly at the most highly regarded teams.
#7 TEXAS TECH is the highest rated team in the polls and the most respected computer assessments. This is a veteran team with five senior starters. That gave them a leg up at the start of the season. And, has helped the players pace themselves through the rigors of the regular season campaign. But, what this team lacks is relevant DANCE experience. Tournament basketball is a lot different than regular season basketball. And, the Red Raiders won’t get to play any games in Lubbock! Frankly, the fact that Tech is the highest rated team right now is an indictment of the rest of the Big 12. This is a “nice” team not a national power. Do you think anyone in the top 10 is going to be afraid of Texas Tech next month?
#13 KANSAS is too inconsistent to trust. On any given night, they might play like the best team in the country. And, you have to respect any side that has this many road results. But, winning six games in a row in the Dance? This program has trouble doing that when it’s loaded! This year’s team isn’t loaded, and is prone to long dry spells on offense. It’s weird to think of Kansas as a dangerous floater. That might be its ceiling right now.
#20 WEST VIRGINIA will crush any opponent with poor guards because of its full court press. But, they’re in real trouble against anybody who doesn’t panic. Guess what the Big Dance is full of! Plus, this is another team that benefits from a strong home court, something that turns irrelevant in March. Another dangerous floater, particularly against a superior seed with shaky guards. Early season rankings showing this team in the top five were way too optimistic.
#23 OKLAHOMA shouldn’t even be ranked. Pollsters have been reading too many press clippings about Trae Young. The Sooners currently aren’t in the top 30 of JIM HURLEY’S proprietary ratings…and wouldn’t crack the top 40 if you focused on “recent form.” It wouldn’t be a shock if OU was one-and-done in the Dance, just like their star guard. Arguably the most over-hyped team in America’s most over-hyped conference.
TCU isn’t ranked but probably should be where Oklahoma is based on respected computers and NETWORK’S own numbers. But, that’s still only good enough for a “Round of 32” loser. This defense is awful when you adjust from pace and schedule. You don’t string together March victories with a shaky defense. TCU goes on the list of spoilers if they run into a power early…but not on the list of teams to watch for a deep run unless the Horned Frogs get a very lucky draw.
BAYLOR has a tricky defense, which at least has a chance to cause problems in the Dance. But, this coach isn’t much of a chess player, and the offense is prone to long scoring droughts in pressure situations.
TEXAS may have peaked too early, TWICE! The Longhorns were great at the tail months of 2017, particularly in that Portland tournament that drew so much TV coverage. A heartbreaking loss of a key player slowed down the surge. But, a home win over Oklahoma not too long ago suggested that a strong close might be on the way. The opposite has happened, with Texas now looking like a pretender rather than a threat.
KANSAS STATE is only a potential spoiler if it gets in. OKLAHOMA STATE is improving of late, and might become another spoiler. IOWA STATE will be watching most of March on TV with the rest of us.
In terms of “depth,” this is still a conference that deserves respect. Iowa State is a lot better than most other “worst teams” in conferences. Whoever finishes #7, #8, and #9 will be better than their compatriots in the majors. That said…SO WHAT!
Teams in the AP’s Top 15
Big 10: 3
Big East: 2
West Coast: 2
Big 12: 2
Six weeks ago, everyone was talking about what a dominant force the Big 12 might be in the NCAA Tournament. The media was suggesting four teams had a legitimate shot at the Elite 8. Now it feels shaky for two to reach the Sweet 16 unless teams below Texas Tech and Kansas get very favorable draws.
If most of what you know about college basketball this year comes from what ESPN has been feeding you…get caught up! There’s a parity of quality across the sport. What sets the Big 12 apart from the rest is a lack of horrible play at the bottom, not elite performances at the top.
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