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How will Big 12 fare in NCAA first round?


Here's the great part about the few days leading up to the NCAA Tournament: No one's wrong.


For instance, I like No. 13 Murray State over Vanderbilt, No. 12 Cornell over No. 5 Temple and No. 13 Siena over No. 4 Purdue. Gotta take some chances to win your pool, right?

Let's take a look at what's ahead for the Big 12 in the first round of the tournament on Thursday and Friday. The conference sent seven teams dancing this year, a Big 12 record.

Here's the exercise: I'll list each Big 12 game below and associate those games with a number. That number will represent my confidence level of the Big 12 team advancing in the first round.

The larger the number (from 1 to 7), the more confidence you have in that Big 12 team to win in round 1. I'll start with my most confident pick:

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Lehigh — confidence level: 7

Game time: 8:40 p.m. Thursday

Nick Krug/Journal-World Photos unless otherwise stated

Simple. No. 1 seeds are 100-0 against No. 16 seeds in 25 years of the 64- (or 65-)team era. That's all you need to know.

No. 2 Kansas State vs. No. 15 North Texas — confidence level: 6

Game time: 1:50 p.m. Thursday

Denis Clemente might have to catch fire for KSU to make a deep run

No. 2 seeds are 96-4 against No. 15 seeds. I see K-State making a deep run, maybe all the way to the Final Four. The Wildcats have a potential road block in the second round against BYU, but if they win that, I'm confident they could also take down Pittsburgh/Xavier and get to the Elite Eight.

No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 Sam Houston State — confidence level: 5

Game time: 1:55 p.m. Thursday

The way Ekpe Udoh alters shots in Baylor's 2-3 zone defense could take the Bears deep in the tourney

Annoying that Baylor and K-State play at the same time. The Bears should have no problem in this game. It will get interesting for Baylor in the second round against Notre Dame/Old Dominion, but I think the Bears are destined for the Sweet 16 and maybe beyond.

No. 5 Texas A&M vs. No. 12 Utah State — confidence level: 4

Game time: 3:55 p.m. Friday


This game could be upset city (Utah State had won 17 straight games before losing to New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference title), but I'm not counting on it. I really like the way Donald Sloan (pictured above) and A&M played in the Big 12 tournament. In this battle of the Aggies, give me Texas A&M.

No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech — confidence level: 3

Game time: 6:15 p.m. Friday

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Mar/15/ku_bkc_osu_20.jpg Keiton Page will have to knock down some threes for OSU to beat Georgia Tech.

Not the highest confidence mark for Oklahoma State here. This game is far from certain for coach Travis Ford and OSU. Georgia Tech's record doesn't look like anything special (22-12, 7-9 ACC), but the Yellow Jackets made a serious run in the ACC tournament, winning three games before bowing to Duke in the finals.

No. 8 Texas vs. No. 9 Wake Forest — confidence level: 2

Game time: 8:45 p.m. Thursday

Damion James (5) probably needs a double-double for UT to advance

This game is as much of a toss-up as I see in the bracket. If you think the Longhorns are struggling, check out Wake, which has lost five of its last six, including the first round of the ACC tournament to Miami (Fla.).

This is a game Texas should win, but UT hasn't looked good in months. And that 19-point loss to Baylor in the Big 12 tournament is still fresh on my mind. Should Texas win, it would have an outside chance to upset Kentucky in the second round.

No. 10 Missouri vs. No. 7 Clemson — confidence level: 1

Game time: 1:45 p.m. Friday

AP Photo: Mike Dixon (10) will likely push the tempo for the Tigers

Relatively even match against two teams that like to push the tempo. Missouri just looked dreadful against Nebraska in the Big 12 tournament, and its lack of a go-to scorer will shy me away from picking MU in the first round.

What are your Big 12 confidence picks?

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss. And enjoy the madness.


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