Most television analysts continue to sing the praises of the Big 12 as the best conference in the country. We’re told every game is a battle and anything can happen.
I am not saying the Big 12 is a weak conference, because it certainly is not, but is really as strong as advertised? There is no questioning the competitiveness and one of my least favorite people on the plant, Joe Lunardi, has all but three teams presently making the NCAA Tournament. Yet, looking ahead to next month (I am the first to admit, in this wild season lacking truly great team(s), everything could be completely different in three weeks), do you see any team a lock to win four in a row to reach the Final Four? I do not.
There is no doubt whoever makes the field of 68 will best battle-tested. Yet, does being the best of a watered-down national scene qualify for greatness? Let’s take a closer look at some of the teams, after an honest assessment of their future.
Kansas – The Jayhawks are in pursuit of the yet Big 12 regular season title. Kansas has won or shared 13 straight, with Oklahoma State the last non-Kansas team to win the crown during the 2003-04 season. The Jayhawks are still in position to win the crown, but this is not a vintage group. During a recent Kansas game against TCU, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla was asked what the difference is between this team and those of the past. In a rare moment of candor, Fraschilla said “talent”, which is dead on. One bit of positive news is the Jayhawks are 8-2 (6-4 ATS) away from Lawrence this season, where they have played mentally tougher.