The Big 12 Conference will send seven teams to the NCAA Tournament, as the bracket for ‘March Madness’ was announced on Sunday.
After seven Big 12 teams were ranked in the national Top 25 for the majority of the conference season, all seven of those teams made the field, and all seven are a higher seed for their first-round game. The Big 12 ended up with the second-most bids of any conference, with the Big Ten finishing with nine bids.
The Baylor Bears, who have been the nation’s No. 2 team practically the entire season, was named the Big 12’s only No. 1 seed, as the Bears anchor the South Region. The Bears (22-2) won their first Big 12 regular-season title. But, the Bears fell to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 semifinals. Still, armed with a body of work, which includes remaining undefeated until late February, the NCAA Selection Committee considered the Bears among the Top 4 teams in the country.
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Baylor will face No. 16 seed Hartford in the first round on Friday. The Bears last went to the Final Four in 1950, when the NCAA Tournament field had just eight teams. Their only national championship game appearance came in 1948.
Kansas (20-8) won its first game in the Big 12 Tournament, beating Oklahoma in the quarterfinals. But, a player tested positive for COVID-19 and that forced the Jayhawks to leave the tournament before their semifinal game with Texas. The Jayhawks are still on their way to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed, and the Jayhawks will play No. 14 seed Eastern Washington on Saturday in the West Region. Kansas, which has three NCAA Tournament titles, last went to the Final Four in 2018.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech (17-10) lost to Texas in the Big 12 quarterfinals. The Red Raiders, who went to the 2019 national championship game and lost to Virginia in overtime, will be a No. 6 seed in the South Region. The Red Raiders will play No. 11 seed Utah State on Friday. They’re hoping to make a third straight trip to the Sweet 16 under head coach Chris Beard. The Red Raiders have never won a national championship, and the trip to the 2019 Final Four was their first in program history.
Oklahoma (15-10) bowed out of the Big 12 Tournament in the quarterfinals against Kansas. The Sooners are a No. 8 seed in the West Region and will play No. 9 seed Missouri on Saturday, a matchup of former Big 12 rivals. The Sooners last made a Final Four in 2016 under head coach Lon Kruger, and they’ll be out to win at least a first-round game for the first time since that 2016 run.
Oklahoma has never won a national title, but made two national title game appearances in 1947 and 1988.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State (20-8) has been one of the fastest-rising teams in the country the past month. In fact, at the start of the season, no one knew what to expect from the Cowboys, who were penalized by the NCAA, banned from the postseason in June, and then appealed the ruling. Since the NCAA hasn’t heard the appeal, the Cowboys can play. Led by freshman sensation Cade Cunningham, the Cowboys are a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region, and they’ll play No. 13 seed Liberty on Friday.
The Texas Longhorns were named a No. 3 seed by the committee. Texas (19-7) defeated Oklahoma State, 91-86, to win the Big 12 Tournament for the first time in program history. Texas forward Jericho Sims, who had a double-double in the title game, was our Heartland College Sports Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
The Longhorns will start their potential trek to the Final Four in the East Region, where they’ll face No. 14 seed Abilene Christian on Saturday. Texas last reached the Final Four in 2003 and have never made it to a national championship game.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia (18-9) fell to Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, and the Mountaineers ended up as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the Midwest Region. The Mountaineers will play No. 14 seed on Morehead State on Friday, and head coach Bob Huggins will be going for career win No. 900.
The Mountaineers have never won a national title, last played in the national title game in 1959 and haven’t been to the Final Four since 2010, with Huggins leading the way as head coach.
This year’s tournament will be held entirely in Indiana and will begin on Friday, March 19, one day later than normal. The NCAA made the decision to do so in order to better implement COVID-19 protocols throughout the tournament.
The First Four games will be held March 18. First-round games will be held on March 19 and March 20 at Mackey Arena, the home of Purdue basketball; Assembly Hall, the home of Indiana basketball; Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers; Hinkle Fieldhouse, the home of the Butler Bulldogs; Indiana Farmers Coliseum, which is located in Indianapolis; and Lucas Oil Stadium, also in Indianapolis.
Second-round games will be held on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22, with all games in the four Indianapolis venues.
The Sweet 16 will be held Saturday, March 27, and Sunday, March 28, with games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Elite Eight games will be held Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30, with all games at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Final Four will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium. The national semifinals are on Saturday, April 3, with the national championship game held on Monday, April 5.
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