Big 12’s March Madness

March Madness is arguably the most anticipated sporting event of the year. This year’s edition did not disappoint in regards of intensity, but let’s shift our focus locally. This particular NCAA Tournament proved dismal for teams from the Big 12. When the year began, the Big 12 was thought among the elite conferences, and these speculations stayed consistent through March. The conference admitted seven teams into the tournament, four of which were three seeds or higher but none of them earned admittance past the Sweet 16. Here is each team’s story through the tournament


Baylor Bears:

Wins against quality teams such as Memphis, Iowa State, and Oklahoma awarded Baylor a three seed in the tournament. The excitement of being granted such a high seed must have flustered the Bears’ nerves, as their first game against the 14 seed Georgia State Panthers became their last. Baylor and Georgia State battled for the entirety of the game, but  with the 2.6 seconds remaining, Panther guard R.J. Hunter hit a three to place his team on top 57-56. One misfired three later, and the Georgia State bench was rushing the court.


Iowa State Cyclones:

From the beginning of the year Iowa State contested Kansas as number one team in the conference. Although Kansas kept their regular season crown, Iowa State still went on to win the Big 12 tournament and earn themselves a three seed in the big dance. After a great performance throughout the regular season with just eight losses to 25 victories, Iowa State went down similarly to Baylor. They were the second three seed to be ousted that day, and also the second three seed to be defeated by a single point. The UAB Blazers bested them 60-59, because of their domination down low with a 51-34 advantage under the glass.


Kansas Jayhawks:

The Jayhawks for the eleventh consecutive time became the Big 12 regular season champions and boasted a 26-8 record. The Jayhawks found themselves facing New Mexico State as the Midwest’s two seed. The Jayhawks kept a steady advantage the entire game against the Aggies and won the game 75-56. Looming ahead of them in the field of 32 was their in-state rival the Wichita State Shockers. Through most of the first half the Jayhawks kept a steady single digit lead, but as the game progressed the Shockers tired them out with fast paced offense and tenacious defense. As the final minutes faded, the Shockers pulled away, and eventually came through victorious with an ending score of 78-65.


Oklahoma Sooners:

Oklahoma was the first of the two Big 12 teams to make a Sweet 16 appearance in 2015. In their first game they barely handled 14 seed Albany,69-60. The Sooners second match up proved to be tougher with 11 seed Dayton, fresh off an upset against six seed Providence. Dayton made it closer but still fell short against Oklahoma with a final score of Oklahoma 72, Dayton 66. Oklahoma continued to the Sweet 16 to face the seven seed Michigan State Spartans, who had just upset two seed Virginia. Great performances out of the Spartan’s Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine proved too much for Buddy Hield and the Sooners to handle, losing 62-58.


Oklahoma State Cowboys:

After losing six of their last seven going into the tournament, Oklahoma State’s seedage was dropped down to nine. Their first matchup was against eight seed Oregon and their excellent senior guard Joseph Young. The Cowboys were able to maintain a narrow lead into midway through the second half, but Young and the Ducks finished the game on an 20-11 scoring run, and eliminated Oklahoma State by a score of 79-73.


Texas Longhorns:

At the beginning of the season the Texas Longhorns were ranked within the top 10, and did well in nonconference play, but a sub 500 conference record eventually ousted them from the top 25 and ultimately earned them an 11 seed in the tournament. Their opponent was six seed Butler who they had beaten in every matchup they had played before. A twenty point performance by Butler’s guard Kellen Dunham, and 15 forced turnovers allowed Butler to slide past the Longhorns 56-48.


West Virginia Mountaineers:

West Virginia and their coach Bob Huggins built a reputation early on for their persistent full court press defense. His strategy worked beautifully as West Virginia had its best season in years earning themselves a five seed. They began the tournament against 12 seed Buffalo. The Mountaineers nearly lost it, but behind big man leading scorer Devin Williams and relentless defense, West Virginia pulled it out at a score of 68-62. Their next game was up against a team out of the ACC, the Maryland Terps. Another dominating performance by Devin Williams down low led to a steady 69-59 win for the Mountaineers. The Kentucky Wildcats loomed ahead in the Sweet 16 for West Virginia, a challenge that just proved too much for them. Kentucky cleaned up the boards and held the Mountaineers to 24 percent shooting from the field, and won handily 78-39.