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Big 12 Notebook

February 5, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Mitch Schneider

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

With March Madness only a stone’s throw away, four Big 12 teams are on course to have their dance cards punched come Selection Sunday.

Those four, barring monumental meltdowns, include Oklahoma State (17-2), Oklahoma (15-3), Texas (14-4) and Kansas (16-5).

That being said, five other Big 12 schools could potentially make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and as of today, are right on the infamous “bubble.”

Those squads – Missouri (13-5), Texas Tech (12-5), Colorado (13-7), Iowa State (12-6) and Texas A&M (11-6) – have plenty of work to do in order to earn a bid, though it won’t be easy. Big 12 bubble teams have the misfortune of playing in the Big 12 conference, where every win is hard fought and every loss critical.

Quin Snyder’s Tigers presently have the most realistic shot of making the tournament as Mizzou could very well win 20 games, thus, locking up a bid.

Tech and CU are two other schools that have the talent to make a serious run into March Madness. However, the Red Raiders and Buffs are prone to dropping games they really shouldn’t lose, which may ultimately cost them a chance at the Dance.

The Cyclones and Aggies are long shots to earn March bids, but if either school manages to string together a five- or six-game winning streak… who knows where they’ll end up?

As for Kansas State (11-8), Nebraska (9-11) and Baylor (9-8)… football season is only six months away.

Who’s on first?

As previously mentioned, the Cowboys, Sooners and Jayhawks are all in prime positions to earn NCAA Tournament bids in the next few weeks. These three schools are a combined 48-10 (83%), and are all sitting pretty in terms of RPI and national rankings.

Another thing all members of this threesome have in common… they all share the top spot in the Big 12 standings with a 6-1 conference record.

Texas momentarily shared the lead with OSU, OU and KU. But the Longhorns (5-2) slipped to fourth place after falling at Colorado, 93-80, Tuesday night.

The top four teams in the Big 12 standings at the end of the conference season will all earn first-round byes in the Big 12 Tournament, to be held March 13-16 in Dallas, Texas. In the five-year history of the Big 12 Tourney, only one team (Oklahoma State in 1999) made it to the finals without having the luxury of an opening round bye.

Assuming the Cowboys, Sooners and Jayhawks wrap up the top three seeds for this year’s tournament, the race for the fourth spot is presently up for grabs. Five teams are within 2.5 games of Texas, and there is plenty of time in this Big 12 season for those schools to make up the difference.

It’s already been one heckuva year for the Big 12, and the conference season is not even halfway over.

Big 12 fever…Catch it!

Oy vey.

General motors on to 800

Kansas coach Roy Williams notched his 400th career coaching victory last month. With one more win, Texas Tech’s Bobby Knight will also reach the 400-win plateau for the second time in his career.

A Red Raider victory on Wednesday (against Texas A&M) will give the General 800 wins as a head coach. Only three other men’s Division I coaches – Adolph Rupp (876), Dean Smith (879) and Jim Phelan (826) – have hit the 800 mark, while Tennessee’s Pat Summitt and Texas’ Jody Conradt are the only women coaches to have done so, as well.

“Eight-hundred means you’ve sustained excellence for a long, long time,” Duke coach and former Knight protege Mike Krzyzewski told the Associate Press. “I hope he gets a lot more.”

The bulk of Knight’s 799 victories came at Indiana, where the notorious, chair-tossing General spent almost thirty years coaching from 1971-2000. His Hoosiers won 662 games and captured three national titles, the last coming in 1987.

After his long stint in Bloomington, Knight signed on to coach the Red Raiders in 2001. Texas Tech won 23 games in his first year at the helm, and qualified for the NCAA Tournament just one season removed from a 9-19 record.

Should Knight continue to coach for at least four or five more years, he will undoubtedly break Smith’s record for all-time career wins. I’m sure the Indiana athletic department can’t wait for that day to come.

Home sweet home

In Big 12 games played thru Tuesday, Feb.4, home teams have won 29 of 40 games – a winning percentage of .725.

Six teams are undefeated at home in conference play, as Kansas (4-0), Texas (4-0), Colorado (4-0), Oklahoma (3-0), Oklahoma State (3-0) and Missouri (2-0) remain perfect in their respective arenas.

It should come as no surprise that all six of those squads sit atop the Big 12 standings, as well.

Delving deeper into the phenomena that is home-court advantage, ten Big 12 teams are .500 or better at home, nine have winning records, and five schools (CU, Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska and Texas Tech) have only won conference games in their home gyms.

Memo to all Big 12 clubs: try not to schedule any games on the road.

Intriguing match-ups of the week:

Saturday, Feb. 8 – Kansas at Kansas State
Saturday, Feb. 8 – Texas at Texas A&M
Sunday, Feb. 9 – Texas Tech at Missouri
Sunday, Feb. 9 – Oklahoma State at Cincinnati


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