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March Madness Notes March 8th

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The Big 12 North sucks. Period. Nebraska, Iowa State, Missouri, and Colorado were all sent packing by Big 12 South schools in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. There is a healthy debate about whether or not Kansas State deserves a bid. Seven of the Wildcats' ten conference wins came against the four losing teams today. Billy Gillespie can complain all he wants about the marketing of the Big 12 conference. If Kansas State loses this afternoon to Texas Tech and doesn't get a bid, it won't be because of a marketing plan, but instead because they have only one good win (at Texas).

When was the last time not a single #1 seed made the Final Four? I don't know, but I will not be surprised if it happens this year. There are about ten good teams this season but not a single dominant team. And the difference between the 11th best team and the 40th best team is as small as I can ever remember. Look no further than the opening day losses by Maryland, Duke, and UCLA. It's not that shocking that there are upsets on the Thursday of conference tournaments, but what is shocking is that all three teams lost to teams that will not make the NCAA tournament. I have a strong feeling we may be tearing up our brackets after the first two days of play next week.

Bubble Teams In the ACC, Florida State improved their chances of an at-large bid, but likely still needs to beat North Carolina. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech took a major step backward with a loss to Wake Forest. The Yellow Jackets have probably done enough already to warrant a berth but it will now be a stressful wait on Sunday. In the Big East, Syracuse is in despite losing to Notre Dame, but West Virginia will probably be the best team left out. In the Big 10, Illinois stayed alive for a berth, but needs at least one more win to feel secure. Purdue gets a chance to improve their resume Friday. In the Pac 10, Stanford took USC to overtime but came up short. I still feel confident that the Cardinal will be one of the last teams in, anyway. In the SEC, Arkansas and Georgia are making late runs at bids but both will come up short.

Baylor's guards were absolutely fantastic against Missouri in their 97-83 victory. Curtis Jerrells torched the Tigers with a career-high 31 points, while Henry Dugat shot a scorching 9-for-11 from the floor, adding 25 points of his own. If that wasn't enough, Aaron Bruce knocked in 13 points and really made the Tigers pay when they gambled with their full court press. I'll say it one more time: Baylor is much better than their record. The Bears were only blown out twice in Big 12 play, Scott Drew's club is loaded with talent at guard (but lack a true post presence) and is still learning how to win. Their guards handle pressure well, shoot a high percentage from three, and really know how to attack the basket. Baylor has almost beaten the Horns twice already this season and has now won three of their last five. Their two losses during that stretch game on the road to Texas A&M and on the road to Texas Tech. This will be a close game, and if the Horns don't take care of the ball or defend the three-pointer, then Baylor could march onto the Big 12 semifinals.

--AW--