Big 12 Leads Power 5 Conferences With Two Teams in Elite 8
The Big 12 Conference was universally viewed (other than by Tom Izzo) as the best basketball conference in college basketball, and the deeper we get into the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the league appears to be proving just that.
In what has been a chaotic tournament, with no No. 1 seeds reaching the Elite 8 for the first time in NCAA Tournament history, the Big 12 Conference leads all Power 5 conferences with two teams in the Elite 8.
The Kansas State Wildcats punched their ticket on Thursday night with a thrilling win over Michigan State, while Texas rolled Xavier on Friday night to reach the Regional Final.
When you look around the rest of the Power 5 conferences, only the ACC is represented with Miami (FL), in the Midwest Regional Final, where they will face the Longhorns. The SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 have zero representation in the Elite 8. Meantime, the West Coast Conference (Gonzaga), Mountain West Conference (San Diego State) and Conference USA (Florida Atlanta) are all represented as well. And then, there’s the Big East, who does have two teams remaining in Creighton and UConn.
However, the Big East does not have major conference football, so it’s not a Power 5 league, despite what the league might try to tell you.
The Big 12 led the nation with 70% of its teams making the NCAA Tournament this year. The Big 12 went 5-2 in their first round games, before arguably a disappointing second round performance with only two of five teams reaching the Sweet 16.
But the deeper the Tournament goes, the Big 12 has a serious chance to not just cut down multiple nets at a Regional Final to punch a Final 4 ticket, as K-State and Texas are both favored in their respective games, but also in Houston for a National Championship. Texas and K-State are two of the highest remaining seeds in the NCAA Tournament, as a No. 2 and No. 3 seed, respectively. Gonzaga is also a No. 3 seed, but every other team is a No. 4 seed or higher.
K-State head coach Jerome Tang said after his win over Michigan State about the league, “Yeah, I think we’ve been a basketball conference. The last four years we’ve had the No. 1 rating, and this year I thought we had 10 teams in our league that could play in the NCAA Tournament. This is not new. The last two national champions have been from our conference.
If it wasn’t for COVID, I think it would have been the last three. And even if you back up one, Texas Tech losing in overtime, it could have been four in a row. We’re the best basketball conference in the country, and the coaches in our league are Hall-of-Famers, and I’m just thankful to be even associated with any of them.”
Kansas State plays FAU on Saturday at 5:09 CST for a trip to the Final Four, while Texas will play Xavier at 4:05 CST on Sunday.