Thanks, Kansas. The Jayhawks historically have propped up Big Eight/Big 12 basketball, and 2012 is no different. KU’s rise to the Final Four puts the Big 12 on even footing with every other conference.
The Big 12. The Big East (Louisville). The Southeastern Conference (Kentucky). The Big Ten (Ohio State). All are represented in the Final Four. Whoever wins the title also brings home the flag for best conference in college basketball. Here’s how the leagues rank going into the Final Four:
1. Big Ten: 11-5 record. If Ohio State beats Kansas, that’s as many victories (12) as teams in the league. That’s a good performance.
2. Big East: 13-7. Lots of wins, which is monumental. Not like 1985, when Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s made the Final Four, and the Big East had 19 NCAA victories. But 13 wins out of a 16-team league is not as impressive as 11 wins out of a 12-team conference. Close, but not quite.
3. Big 12: 9-5. Missouri didn’t help the league at all, going out the door with a first-round loss. But Baylor’s three victories — the Bears lost to Kentucky in the South Regional final — along with KU puts the Big 12 in the running. While the Bedlam schools take a hiatus from meaningful basketball, Baylor has gone to a regional final twice in three years.
4. SEC: 8-3. The Southeastern Conference came very close to dominating play in this tournament. If Florida beats Louisville — and the Gators led most of the way — then this debate would be over.
5. ACC 6-5: Just wondering, but when does the Atlantic Coast Conference plan on getting back to playing elite basketball? North Carolina and Duke, we always have with us. But the ACC hasn’t been deep in years.