Big 12 — Conference of Underdogs

The Championship tournament saw three of its top four seeds fall on Thursday

It always looks like a good championship week when there’s an early upset. A motley group of college students with little hope of any success against a seemingly unstoppable draft pick-factory wins, and we’re reminded of why we turn or collective heads every March to watch college basketball nonstop for about a month.
But usually, these upsets are spangled throughout the tournament; they are rare, and most of them aren’t all that big to begin with.
This was not the case in Oklahoma City this week. The mighty tournament-hopefuls, most of them anyway, fell by the wayside at the hands of a (probably) less talented and thirstier team.
That’s how three of the top four seeds were sent packing in the quarterfinal round on Thursday, back to the class schedules, keg parties and three-hour practices of their respective institutes of higher learning.
In all likelihood, the Kansas-Baylor game was slated for 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday for a reason; Kansas would, in all likelihood, demolish the Bears methodically from the outset.
Instead, Baylor shot the three with abandon and crashed the boards as though their young lives depended on it. When the dust settled, the scoreboard read 71-64 in the favor of Baylor, and the least probable day in the history of the conference had begun.
Next, Texas faced Kansas State, the fourth seed, who had beaten the Longhorns in Austin on January, 31. The contest was everything you could hope for in the conference tournament, unless of course if you are a Kansas State Wildcat.
Texas played good enough to edge the Wildcats 61-58 on a night when K-State’s star guard Denis Clemente couldn’t find his shot to the tune of 4-20 from the field.
The most exciting game of the night was Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The lead shifted four times in the last three minutes as the Cowboys weathered foul trouble and a brainless shot clock error to hold onto a 71-70 victory.
It was enough to make you wonder if any favored team wasn’t doomed in this bizzaro-tournament until Missouri rained on the upset-parade with their 81-60 beating of Texas Tech.
If anything though, Thursday’s quarterfinals serve as a reminder of why we watch these games and a symbol of what sports should represent, but too often do not. By 10 p.m. last night, as I was watching Tech being manhandled by a bigger and better team, I reminded myself of the early games and of the fact that this is college basketball in March.
And when you’re watching college basketball in March, the worn cliché becomes true: Anything can happen.
The semifinals of the Big XII Championship will be played Friday, with Baylor taking on Texas, and Missouri going against Oklahoma State.

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