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The most unlikely Big 12 title game...ever
There may not be a more compelling college hoops story in the nation right now than the No. 9-seeded Baylor Bears: The Cinderella of Cinderellas.
I was curious just how unlikely this 5 p.m. title game in Oklahoma City would be from a historical perspective.
As a simple exercise, I added up the seeds from each Big 12 tournament finals game from 1997 to present. In this exercise, No. 9 Baylor and No. 3 Missouri would score a 12 in 2009, for instance. Turns out it's the highest score in conference finals history, barely topping 1997, when No. 1 Kansas defeated No. 10 Missouri.
Here's the breakdown:
- 2009: 12 (No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 9 Baylor)
- 2008: 3 (No. 2 Kansas 84, No. 1 Texas 74)
- 2007: 4 (No. 1 Kansas 88, No. 3 Texas 84)
- 2006: 3 (No. 2 Kansas 80, No. 1 Texas 68)
- 2005: 7 (No. 3 Oklahoma State 72, No. 4 Texas Tech 68)
- 2004: 3 (No. 1 Oklahoma State 65, No. 2 Texas 49)
- 2003: 8 (No. 3 Oklahoma 49, No. 5 Missouri 47
- 2002: 3 (No. 2 Oklahoma 64, No. 1 Kansas 55
- 2001: 7 (No. 3 Oklahoma 54, No. 4 Texas 45
- 2000: 4 (No. 1 Iowa State 70, No. 3 Oklahoma 58
- 1999: 8 (No. 3 Kansas 53, No. 5 Oklahoma State 37
- 1998: 4 (No. 1 Kansas 72, No. 3 Oklahoma State 58
- 1997: 11 (No. 1 Kansas 87, No. 10 Missouri 60
An unlikely championship game today at Ford Center. History's at stake.
First, no team lower than a No. 3 seed has ever won the Big 12 tournament. Baylor could change that.
Second, the Big 12 has never sent more than six teams to the NCAA Tournament. Baylor could make it seven with an automatic bid if it beats Missouri.
Either way, one of these programs is going to win its first Big 12 tournament in conference history.
I never thought it could be Baylor. Missouri, maybe. But Baylor? The same Baylor that was ranked to start the season, then put together an abysmal 5-11 conference record?
The same Baylor that ranks 229th in the nation in scoring defense and gives up 70.3 points per game (10th in the Big 12)? In the Big 12 tournament, you must play defense to win. Kansas won the tournament three years in a row, and the Jayhawks faced Texas all three years. Both teams could guard as well as anyone in the country.
A look at the numbers and Baylor is exceeding expectations on defense just like it's exceeding expectations in this unlikely postseason run.
In this season's Big 12 tournament, the Bears are giving up 61 points per game (nine under their season average). KU won the tournament in 2008 giving up 66.3 points per game; 64 points per game in 2007; and 65 points per game in 2006.
What's even more interesting is Baylor has played a 2-3 zone on defense for nearly the entire tournament. Coincidence?
Player of the day: Kevin Rogers, Baylor
Rogers led the Bears with 20 points on Friday in Baylor's 76-70 victory over Texas. His ability to knock down the 15 to 18-foot jump shot kept the Texas defense off balance. You must respect his ability to get to the rack, so when Rogers is making that shot, he's awfully tough to defend.
Note: AP File photo from Jan. 27 in Waco, Texas.
In three Big 12 tournament games, the Dallas native is averaging 14.7 points and 10 boards per game. Rogers, a senior, averaged 12 and seven during the regular season.
What's everyone's prediction for the championship game? Mizzou will clearly enter as the favorite. I haven't seen a line yet, but I'd guess somewhere around 4-5.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss. And predict.