News

Big 12 coaches want six in the NCAA Tournament

Six from the Big 12 in the NCAA Tournament?

Naturally, league coaches want the touchdown, and they point to the favorable numbers.

* The Big 12 owns the nation’s No. 2 conference Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Since 2002, when the league’s RPI was second or third, the league has received six tournament bids.

* The league has a winning record against the conferences ranked first (ACC), third (Pac-10) and fourth (Big East).

* The league has the nation’s best record against The Associated Press Top 25 in non-conference games (8-10).

“The numbers and the facts speak for themselves,” Baylor Coach Scott Drew said.

Louder than they have in years.

“If the RPI matters, we should get six teams,” said Kansas Coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawks play host to Texas Tech tonight.Entering Monday’s games, the Big 12 had seven teams with a top 50 RPI, a tool used by the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee to help them select the 34 at-large teams and seed the 65-team bracket.

According to collegerpi.com, Texas is fifth, Kansas ninth, Oklahoma 28th, Baylor 33rd, Kansas State 42nd, Texas A&M 46th and Texas Tech 49th.

“This league is as competitive as any I’ve ever been in,” said Texas Coach Rick Barnes, who has coached in the Big East and ACC.Many other criteria will factor in the committee’s meeting, which begins on March 13 and concludes with the announcement of the field on March 16.

Record against teams in the RPI top 25 and top 50, how a team finishes and its schedule strength also will be considered.Complicating the issue for the league are teams heading in opposite directions. Kansas State, seemingly a tournament lock two weeks ago, has lost four straight and six of nine.

Oklahoma State, which had lost six straight, has won five in a row and six of seven. Also getting hot at the end are Texas Tech and Nebraska.

The Big 12 has never had a team finish 8-8 and make the field. But that could change this year.

“A lot of teams are around .500 because they’re good, not because they’re mediocre,” Self said. “How can leagues (ranked) three, four or five get their .500 teams and not ours? That shouldn’t happen.”

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel hopes the committee will take into account another factor. The Sooners’ leading scorer and rebounder, Blake Griffin, will miss action this week after injuring his knee in Saturday’s victory over Texas A&M.

“I know that when we’ve been healthy we’ve been very, very good,” Capel said.

  Comments