Baylor, KSU prop up Big 12
The Sweet 16 is where mid-majors go to die, and we saw that again Thursday and Friday. Five mid-majors reached the regional semifinals. But only Butler, a 63-59 upset winner over Syracuse, survived.
Baylor trounced St. Mary. Michigan State survived Northern Iowa. Kentucky popped Cornell. And Kansas State beat Xavier in two epic overtimes.
But don’t think the NCAA Tournament has ended up looking very much like it always does. Two No. 1 seeds are out. And while familiar names like Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State remain, other schools, even from the big conferences, are walking on grass.
Kansas State is in its first regional final since 1988. West Virginia hasn’t been this far since 1959. Baylor since 1950. Tennessee and Butler never have been this far. So that’s a great tournament.
Baylor’s ascension has fortified the Big 12, and the Bears aren’t a terrible pick to upset Duke. Kansas State, too, which ranks with Kentucky (vs. West Virginia) as the most likely regional finalist to win. K-State will have a huge talent and size edge on Butler.
Excluding the Horizon League’s 3-0 (all courtesy of Butler), the SEC has the best record this tournament among conferences. But the Big 12 has the most victories. The SEC is 6-2, thanks to Kentucky and Tennessee. The Big 12 is 9-5 and wouldn’t have the best record even had Kansas made the regional final. That’s the curse of having so many teams (seven) in the NCAA Tournament. Losses pile up.
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