By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
I’m still undecided on whether to buy into the concept that the Big 12 Conference is the best league in men’s college basketball this year.
I know the Big 12 has had more teams jammed into the Top 25 rankings than anyone.
But, I just haven’t seen enough of their games to know for sure.
So far, teams from the conference are doing a pretty fair job of living up to the hype in the NCAA tournament.
The Big 12 has won five and lost two in the tournament’s round of 64, capped late Friday night by the TCU Horned Frogs’ dramatic 72-70 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils.
With the game tied and the clock ticking under 10 seconds to play, Arizona State double-teamed TCU star Mike Miles Jr., who passed across the top of the three-point circle to JaKobe Coles.
Coles dribbled past a defender and lofted a 5-foot runner over the outstretched arm of forward Desmond Cambridge Jr. It swished for the game-winner with three seconds remaining.
Winners out of the Big 12 in the first round of the tournament included West region No. 1 seed Kansas, Midwest No. 2 Texas, South No. 3 Baylor, East No. 3 Kansas State and TCU, the No. 6 seed in the West.
Losers were Midwest No. 6 Iowa State and South No. 9 seed West Virginia. Here’s a glance at how Big 12 teams have fared thus far:
Round of 64
South: 8) Maryland beat 9) West Virginia, 67-65
West: 1) Kansas beat 16) Howard, 96-68
Midwest: 2) Texas beat 15) Colgate, 81-61
Round of 64
South: 3) Baylor beat 14) UC Santa Barbara, 74-56
Midwest: 11) Pittsburgh beat 6) Iowa State, 59-41
West: 6) TCU beat 11) Arizona State, 72-70
East: 3) Kansas State beat 14) Montana State, 77-65.
Round of 32
West: 1) Kansas vs. 8) Arkansas, 4:15 p.m., CBS
Midwest: 2) Texas vs. 10) Penn State, 6:45 p.m., CBS
Round of 32
East: 3) Kansas State vs. 6) Kentucky, 1:40 p.m., CBS
South: 3) Baylor vs. 6) Creighton, 6:10 p.m., TBS
West: 6) TCU vs. 3) Gonzaga, 8:40 p.m., TBS
Next season, in 2023-24, the Big 12 is shaping up to be a men’s basketball juggernaut.
In July, the Houston Cougars will transition into the league along with Cincinnati and Central Florida from the American Athletic Conference. In addition, BYU will also join. Meanwhile, Texas and Oklahoma will compete in the league for the last time before they bolt to the Southeastern Conference.
So, how many top four seeds will that give the conference in the 2024 NCAA men’s tournament? I’m guessing four or five, at least.