Big 12, Kansas basketball overrated?

Before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, my agent I.M. Slick received a letter bragging on the quality of men’s basketball in the Big 12 Conference. Rarely have I seen him laugh so hard.

Slick: What a letter. Do you mean to tell me that area sports fans still think Big 12 basketball is the best in the nation?

Joe: Well, it may or may not be the top conference, but it’s one of the top three.

Slick: You call yourself a sports columnist? C’mon. The Big 12 is overrated and you know it.

Joe: Hold on there. Seven of the 10 teams in the Big 12 made the tournament, and the worst-seeded team was Texas Tech as a No. 8 seed. That’s pretty salty.

Slick: That’s not salty. That’s a joke. Someone on the selection committee has a good sense of humor if Tech is an 8 seed. Maybe the committee thought they were seeding teams for football.

Joe: So why are you down on the Big 12?

Slick: Seven teams get in from the Big 12, and every one of them were favored to win their opening game in the tournament based on their seed. Tell me how only three of them won in the first round.

Joe: Yeah, but upsets happen all the time.

Slick: But they seem to happen more often than not with Big 12 teams. If you ever want to see a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed, all you need to do is seed Baylor as No. 1, because they’ve been bounced in the first round for two consecutive years, even though they were a very high seed. The seven Big 12 teams were a combined 3-4 in the first round this year, and the only two teams from the Missouri Valley Conference were 3-0 if you count Wichita State’s First Four game.

Joe: But the Big 12 nearly got two teams in the Final Four. How impressive would that have been?

Slick: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a merry Christmas it would be. It would have been more impressive if Oklahoma, the lone representative in the Final Four, wouldn’t have gotten beaten so bad that everyone was wondering why there wasn’t a running clock the last eight minutes of the game.

Joe: So you really think the Big 12 is overrated, huh?

Slick: Let’s just say that by beating Kansas and Oklahoma back-to-back, Villanova showed that they were the true champion of the Big 12.

Joe: Yeah, but KU came close to beating Villanova in the Elite Eight game, and Villanova wound up winning it all. And lest you forget, OU thumped Villanova early in the season.

Slick: Speaking of the vaunted Jayhawks, how can a team who gets to be a No. 1 or 2 seed every year rarely get to the Final Four? If KU hadn’t won the national championship eight years or so ago, you would be writing about how Coach Bill Self is unable to win the big one.

Joe: That’s a bit harsh. If it were that easy getting to the Final Four every year, you’d see the same teams there more often. Plus, winning the Big 12 for 12 consecutive years is remarkable in and of itself.

Slick: Really? Just how tough can a conference be when the same team wins it 12 years in a row? That doesn’t happen anywhere else in the country because every other conference in the country has other teams that step up and win a championship occasionally.

Joe: Just wait till next year. KU has another recruit who may be the best in the country.

Slick:: Another one-and-done player, huh? We’ll see. If nothing else, the Jayhawks should win the Big 12 for the 13th consecutive year. Tell me again why a conference is called the Big 12 when it only has 10 teams? I guess math isn’t its strong suit.

Joe: Whatever.

Hillsboro resident Joe Klein­sasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. He can be reached at Joe.Klein­sasser@wichita.edu.