Look at this week’s AP college basketball poll. There are six Big 12 teams in the top 25, four in the top 13, three in the top 10 and two in the top three.
All of which made Amy Lawrence wonder: Is the Big 12 becoming in basketball what the SEC is in football?
“Gosh, I need to steal that idea for a column,” FS1 college basketball insider Reid Forgrave said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “That’s a great idea. Yes. The answer is yes – at least this year. I just completed my mock bracket for FoxSports.com and I have seven Big 12 teams in there. I know it’s a little bit weird to say this, but there are only 10 teams in the Big 12, so 70 percent of their conference is going to be in my NCAA Tournament, including two 1-seeds and two other teams in West Virginia and Iowa State, who I think could absolutely make a dent in March.”
The Big Ten, it is worth noting, has five teams in the Top 25, including three – No. 4 Iowa, No. 6 Maryland and No. 8 Michigan State – in the top 10.
Forgrave, however, still gives the nod to the Big 12.
“Frankly, I’m not even sure it’s a discussion,” he said. “What is the best conference in the country? It’s the Big 12. They have the best RPI. Since the year 2000, there’s only been one other conference that has a better RPI than the Big 12. That was the ACC, I think, in 2004. They sent two teams to the Final Four that year. I would say that if you’re a betting person, look at the Big 12, look at the teams at the top of that league and take them very deep into March. This is a deep league, and unlike a year ago, I think this is a league that can really do some damage come tournament time.”
Especially Kansas. The No. 2 Jayhawks (22-4, 10-3) are atop the Big 12, and three of their four losses have come against teams currently ranked in the top 13. All of their losses, by the way, were at a neutral site or on the road.
“I spent last week looking over every resume in the country, and really, it’s beyond doubt that I think one team has the best resume in the country – and that’s Kansas,” Forgrave said. “Look, I think Oklahoma could win it all, I think Kansas could win it all – I think another dozen teams could win it all. But when you’re looking at resumes, Kansas is the only team with nine top-50 RPI wins. The fact that they went and beat Oklahoma at Oklahoma is stunning. Oklahoma is a really, really good team. I think they’re a 1-seed. I have them as a 1-seed in my bracket. So to me, Kansas has just a little bit of separation from the rest of the teams in the field.”