By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
It will take two victories by each team to make it happen, but there is a potential for Anaheim, Calif., to be the site of a Sweet 16 version of Bedlam.
Oklahoma State is the No. 9 seed and Oklahoma is the No. 5 seed in the West Regional. If those rivals make it past the first weekend, they would meet in the regional semifinals.
In the past, that sort of matchup between teams from the same conference wouldn’t be possible until the regional final. However, the NCAA recently changed its bracketing principles because of conference expansion and realignment. Conferences with 12 or more schools could cause the basketball committee to make a number of changes in seeds to follow its rules.
“We changed the principles, to allow teams to meet one another earlier in the tournament,” said Ron Wellman, athletic director at Wake Forest and the chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee. “If two teams played one another three times, they could not meet or they cannot meet until the Elite 8. If they meet twice during the regular season and conference tournament, then they can meet in the Sweet 16. If they only play one another one time during the season and tournament, then they can meet in the third round.
“Those principles allowed us this year, for the first time in the five years that I've been on the Committee, and from what I'm told even before that, to honor the true seed lines of all of the teams. We did not have to adjust a seed line for any team this year for the first time in over five years.”
Ironically, while other conferences like the Southeastern (14) and Atlantic Coast (15) have added teams, the Big 12 has 10 schools. But the Big 12 placed 70 percent of its teams in the bracket.
“The committee did everything they needed to do to meet their parameters,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “But it doesn’t matter. You’d rather not play conference opponents until as late as possible because you want everyone in the conference to win as much as possible.”
Baylor’s Prince Headed Home
Baylor celebrated being assigned to San Antonio, which is about a three-hour drive from Waco, for the opening weekend. And one player was especially excited about the Bears’ destination.
Sophomore Taurean Prince grew up in San Antonio and played his high school ball at San Antonio Warren. When Baylor’s destination flashed on the screen during the team’s private watch party, he launched himself out of his seat.
“I saw that we’d have a chance to go to San Antonio, but I didn’t really think we’d go,” Prince told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “It’s my first time playing back home since high school . . . so I’m excited. I’ve already been asking (teammates for tickets). Some of them are using them, but some of the guys from out of state, I’m going to get them to give them up.”
He Wants K-State To Beat Kentucky
Kansas State is 0-8 against Kentucky. One of those losses came in the 1951 national championship game when the Wildcats from Kentucky beat the Wildcats from Kansas.
Not long after it was unveiled that No. 9 seed K-State would take on No. 8 seed Kentucky in St. Louis on Friday, coach Bruce Weber’s phone rang. The man making the call was Ernie Barrett, known as “Mr. K-State” and a member of the 1951 team.
“Ernie called me already, and he’s still mad about the national championship game,” Weber said. “He wants us to get some revenge for him. He said, ‘You’ve got to get them, Bruce.’”
Kentucky was the preseason No. 1 thanks to a fabulous group freshman. Big Blue Nation dreamed of a 40-0 season (t-shirts were even printed) but that dream ended in November. The Wildcats are 24-10 and lost four of their last seven regular-season games.
“No one expects us to win,” Weber said. “We are playing Kentucky. “They have talent, there is no doubt, We are going to have to play, but against anyone you are going to have to play. The important thing for us is we have to do all the little things that made us successful. … That’s just playing hard, guarding the heck out of people and doing all the little things that make a difference. If we do that we will be fine.”
And He Likes K-State Over Kentucky
Here’s Matt Norlander of Sports On Earth on the Kansas State-Kentucky second round game:
Everybody is just dying for Kentucky to play Wichita State. Some want to see Wichita State's season end at the hands of a "real team" like Kentucky. Others want Big Blue to be put away by Gregg Marshall. I happen to think Bruce Weber's team is getting totally overlooked. The Wildcats can beat Kentucky -- by double digits! Let's not forget that UK's lost four of its last seven. Apparently John Calipari's team was ticked it got an eight seed. It should've been that angry after losing to Arkansas. Or LSU. Or Arkansas again. Or South Carolina.
Nebraska’s Terran Petteway is a sophomore from Galveston, Texas, and he helped the Cornhuskers reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 by leading the Big Ten in scoring at 18 points per game.
He is a familiar player to Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team plays Nebraska on Friday in San Antonio.
In 2011-12, Petteway was a freshman at Texas Tech and started 11 of 27 games, averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds a game. Ten of his 11 starts came in Big 12 games. Petteway sat out last season after transferring to Nebraska.
“I remember him well,” Drew said of Petteway. “I thought he had a great upside and I’m not surprised by his success at Nebraska.”
* The Big 12 has 70 percent of its teams in the NCAA field - just the fifth time in NCAA history that a conference has sent 70 percent of its teams. It marks just the second time that a league has had 70 percent and all were single-digit seeds. It happened in 1990 when seven of the Big Ten’s teams in the bracket were single-digit seeds.
* If you believe in such things, Baylor would be a good choice to reach the West Regional final. In 2010 and 2012 the Bears reached the Elite Eight. They missed the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2013 (but last year they won the NIT). So, it’s an even-numbered year and …
* The Big 12 has had at least five teams in the NCAA Tournament in seven straight seasons, while no fewer than six Big 12 teams have made the field in five of the past seven years. A minimum of five NCAA bids have been earned 14 times in the 18-year history of the Conference.
* Iowa State has three players – Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane and Georges Niang - averaging 16 or more points. The last NCAA Tournament team with three players averaging 16 or more points was Duke in 2010. The Blue Devils won the national championship.
* There are four schools that have played in four consecutive bowl games and five consecutive NCAA Tournaments: Kansas State, Louisville, Michigan State and Wisconsin.