The Big 12 Conference was considered to be the best basketball conference in the country this season, and thus far in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, the league has backed it up.
After going 6-0 in First Round NCAA Tournament games, the conference is sending three teams to the Sweet 16, which is tied for the most teams with the ACC. However, if you want to look at it from a different perspective, the Big 12 is leading the country, sending 30% of its teams to the Sweet 16. The ACC, which has 15 teams, is only sending 20% of its teams to the Sweet 16.
Kansas was the first team to punch its Sweet 16 ticket after a close win over Creighton on Saturday. But then on Sunday, Iowa State got the party started with an upset over Wisconsin. The Cyclones were followed by Texas Tech advancing to the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four NCAA Tournaments by beating Notre Dame.
In the two night games, Texas and TCU were trying to make it four or five Big 12 teams in the Sweet 16, but neither team could get it done. Texas came up short against Purdue, losing 81-71. Then, No. 9 seed TCU took No. 1 seed Arizona to overtime, but the Horned Frogs ended up losing 85-80.
And the Big 12 landing three teams in the Sweet 16 is despite the fact that the Baylor Bears, who were defending National Champs, were upset as a No. 1 seed by UNC on Saturday.
Here’s the breakdown of remaining teams in the Sweet 16 by conference:
Big 12: 3
Big East: 2
Big Ten: 2
Last season, Baylor was the only team in the league to make the Sweet 16, however they would go on to win the National Title. The same happened in 2019, when only Texas Tech reached the Sweet 16, but the Red Raiders also made the National Championship game. But this is not necessarily unusual for the Big 12, since back in 2018, the league had four teams in the Sweet 16.
After losing in the Big 12 Tournament last week to Texas Tech, Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said, “I don’t know who we will play [in the NCAA Tournament] and how that will all go, but I do know that we’re playing in the best league in the country. We play the teams that are the most physical. We play in the league that’s the most physical, so my guess would be whoever we play outside the league, it may not be that same level of defensive intensity that we see night in and night out. At the same time, we’ve got to control, value the basketball and play the aggressor.”
And now with all eyes on March Madness, the rest of the nation and seeing just what the Big 12 Conference is made of after an impressive opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.