We rounded up the basketball bloggers for the Big 12's SBN communities and did a little Q&A sesh leading into the tournament beginning today. (Don't give me that garbage about the "First Four" being the "First Round". It's not. They're one-game playoffs to get more money.) Anyways, here's your dose of insight for the day:
First of all, let’s do a little roll call. Let us know who you are, which blog you are representing, and either where your team is playing in the postseason, or which Big 12 team you are pulling for now that your team is done playing.
Bitterwhiteguy from Barking Carnival, aka that guy who isn’t Scipio Tex. Texas is in the bracket Kentucky’s going to win.
PB from Burnt Orange Nation, because one Texas blog isn’t enough.
Joey Conger from Crimson and Cream Machine
KFitzy87 from Wide Right & Natty Lite. The Cyclones are the 3-seed in the South Region of the big boy tourney.
Matt Kirchner from Smoking Musket. I stand here, in awe of the unspeakable terror that are the Buffalo Bulls.
Michael Nichols (Pocketchange) from Our Daily Bears. Baylor will be out in the West Region (but starting off in Jacksonville against Georgia State because why not).
My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Just kidding. I’m Josh Poteet and I rep Cowboys Ride for Free. #CRFF4Life. We are playing in the NCAA Tournament although no one knows how the hell that happened.
misterbrain checking in from Rock Chalk Talk. Kansas is the 2 seed in the Midwest, and we get the unfortunate privilege of playing in the "State Rivalry" bracket, which has Kansas paired with Wichita State in their second game, and all 5 schools from Indiana that made the tournament packed into the same region.
Andrew Felts from Frogs O’ War. This may come as a shock to some of you, but TCU isn’t actually playing in the postseason this year. I’ll be cheering for each and every one of you during the Tournament (yes, even you, Baylor), just so that the Big 12 looks good. Trust me - it’s way more fun than cheering for the Mountain West. Or the C-USA. Or the WAC.
Seth Jungman from Staking The Plains. (Editor’s Note: Seth used to run the SB Nation site Viva The Matadors. Normally, I would have kept this to an all SB Nation blog party, but I enjoyed working with Seth during our Q&As, and I couldn’t get in touch with the new guys at VTM in time.)
Eric Rubottom (aka The Big E) from Bring On The Cats here. After showing the ability to beat anybody and repeatedly lose to anybody in the same season, I don’t know how much more schizophrenia I can actually take.
So the Big 12 got 7 teams in the tournament. Which one was the most surprising (either the fact they got a bid or the seed/region they received)?
BWG: Baylor as a 3-seed is a little surprising, but Oklahoma State getting a 9 surprised the hell out of me considering the tailspin they’ve been in. They seemed to me a lot more firmly on the bubble than the selection committee thought, apparently. Not that anyone knows what the selection committee thinks; I’m pretty sure they showed Mark Titus how everything works as part of a months-long troll.
PB: The Pokes seemed to cut it a whole lot closer than their 9-seed would suggest; did any other team in the bracket drop 6 of their final 7?
JC: Definitely Baylor as a 3 seed surprised me. They lost to Kansas State and Texas once as well as Oklahoma State twice. Sure, they had some good wins but I’d think they’re more on the level of West Virginia than Iowa State and Oklahoma.
Fitzy: I was also surprised Baylor got a 3-seed, but seeing as how they beat us twice this year, including in Hilton for the program’s first time ever, I guess I can understand why the committee valued them so highly. Seeing OSU grab the 9-seed was a little interesting as well with how they sputtered down the stretch.
MK: I guess I’m the first one to not really be surprised that Baylor’s a three seed, but that might just be the PTSD talking. I’ll go ahead and say Okie State getting the 9-seed surprised me. That was a hell of a bad way to end a season. Texas avoiding Dayton took me by surprise a bit as well.
MN: Firstly, I resent all of y’all’s surprise at Baylor’s 3 seed. I mean, sure, the Bears got swept by Oklahoma State, but other than that, what other losses did they accrue that either Kansas, Oklahoma, or Iowa State didn’t? The Big 12 bit everyone a couple of times this year.
I was surprised that Texas didn’t end up in Dayton. All we heard from anyone leading up to Selection Sunday was that the Longhorns were on the bubble, but they still got in comfortably.
JP: Hi, yeah that would be us! We are two questions in and I still have no idea how the Pokes got a bid to the Big Dance. I seriously did not see the Pokes in the NCAA tournament despite many people saying they would because I just don’t think an 18-13 team deserves to play in the tourney.
The most surprising seed for me was Baylor at a #3 seed. The Bears are a good squad and had some HUGE wins but I saw them more in the #4 or #5 range. I’m not as sold on the Big 12 as the committee was.
MB: I’d definitely have to say that Oklahoma State making it as a 9 seed was the surprise for me. I felt they would probably be in the same spot as Texas, and there would have been a good chance of seeing both playing in Dayton. So to see them solidly in the field was a big shock.
AF: I think what surprised me the most was the national perspective of Oklahoma State and Texas. It seemed like over the last several weeks, OSU was solidly in the field while everybody freaked out about UT and potential that they might not get in. To me, the two teams were relatively similar and had comparable resumes. When the dust settled, I was surprised that both teams were so comfortably in the field. Prior to this season, only one team that finished sub-0.500 in the Big 12 had ever been invited to the Tournament, but both OSU and UT were comfortably in despite 8-10 finishes in the league.
SJ: Most surprised by Oklahoma State, but not surprised at all by Baylor’s #3 seed. I think Baylor’s as balanced as they have been in years and they are better defensively than in previous years. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Texas do well despite the lackluster season. If Jonathan Holmes plays remotely interested, then Texas will be a really tough out.
ER: For me, the clear surprise is the 9 seed for Oklahoma State and the 11 seed for Texas. Honestly, I think they should have been swapped - Texas was some injuries mid-season away from being in that 8- or 9-seed range, and Oklahoma State, in my opinion, was worthy of a play-in game, and not much more.
Which Big 12 team do you see getting the furthest in the tournament this year? Which of the top 4 seeds do you see getting upset the earliest?
BWG: God help me, I see Iowa State making a serious run at the Final Four, and I credit that largely to Jameel Mckay’s presence. This isn’t the same team as the past couple of years that lives & dies by the 3, and that makes a big difference. And now that I’ve said it, they’ll get spanked by UAB.
PB: Iowa State has the highest ceiling of any team in the conference, but if I had to bet my life on a Big 12 team making the Elite Eight, I’d probably go with the Sooners. They’ve got terrific team defense, above average rebounding, and the conference’s best offensive player and go-to scorer. If they were a little better at point guard, the Sooners would be really dangerous.
JC: Iowa State will definitely do some damage. Their ability to have five or six different players be able to score will really help. I hate to be a homer, but Oklahoma should win a couple game too. Two things you need in the tournament are strong guard play and a player that can make a big shot. The Sooners have both. For the upset, I think West Virginia gets upset on the first day. There’s always a 5-12 upset, so I think West Virginia is an easy target with them struggling.
Fitzy: Besides my beloved Cyclones, I am picking the Sooners to go furthest in the tournament. In my one and only bracket (because anything more would be cheating, duh), I have OU upsetting Virginia to get to the Elite Eight. That Oklahoma-Virginia matchup would be one of the best in the tourney if it works out that way.
For my "upset alert" pick, I’ll go with KU. I have them beating Wichita State in the round of 32, but the Shockers are going to be playing that game with a chip on their shoulder if they get past Indiana.
MK: I have Iowa State making the Final. Go crazy, Riot Bros. I put a lot of value in a strong conference tournament performance (that’s probably my Big East showing) and right now, the Cyclones just seem kind of unbeatable. It doesn’t matter how much they get down, they win. It’s unbelieveable.
For the upset, I have Oklahoma losing to Providence. Kris Dunn is my spirit animal. Sorry, CCM.
MN: I’m picking both ISU and OU to reach the Elite Eight, but that’s as far as I see them going. If I had to pick one to get further than that, I’d pick ISU to upset Duke. The Cyclones have a lot of offensive weapons and do a great job of scoring efficiently inside, a defensive weakness for the Blue Devils.
JP: I’ve got Oklahoma in my final four. I think they can beat Virginia and I think they’re just as good as Villanova when they play their best game. I’ve got the Sooners over Louisville in the regional final. OU has loads of talent and the tournament could do wonders for Buddy’s draft stock. I’ve got Baylor getting upset by Georgia State in the first round believe it or not. Kevin Ware, the guy with the broken leg, plays for Ga. State and can lead his team to victory.
MB: Of course it’s Baylor, because Scott Drew can’t possibly keep missing his chances to make it to the Final Four, right? In all reality, I’m not really sure who will be going the furthest, but I’m leaning towards Iowa State. Oklahoma has an extremely favorable draw, and I think they scrape their way into the Final Four, but I have Iowa State beating Oklahoma yet again in the Final Four before Kentucky takes the title. I do have Kansas and Baylor bowing out in the Elite Eight though. And of course, I reserve the right to change my mind, since I really could see this going 50 different ways.
AF: I’ve got Iowa State as the only Big 12 team in my Elite Eight. I am tremendously impressed with the Cyclones’ offense. Their roster is so loaded with scorers that they can attack you in so many different ways. I think they have the scoring ability to both knock off Gonzaga and give Duke fits. If I had to put a Big 12 team in my Final Four, it would be ISU. But I’m also not counting out Oklahoma. Buddy Hield is a monster. I don’t really think any Big 12 teams are going to get upset early, but I think the one to watch will be Wichita State-Kansas. It seems like a trendy upset pick, but I really like the way Wichita State plays. Their defense could interrupt Kansas’ offense just enough to pull it off.
SJ: Iowa State makes the most sense and I think they’ll go far, but I’m a big believer in defense in the postseason and I think Oklahoma makes the most sense. They’re 5th in the nation in AdjD and I love Buddy Hield. I’ve already noted above that I think Baylor is better and more well-rounded than in previous years and I think they’ll go further than most people think, so, in order, give me Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor as the teams that I think will go the furthest.
ER: I really like Iowa State making the Elite Eight. They have a great mix across the board of outside scoring, inside scoring, and defensive pressure. I feel like the keys to success in the postseason are offensive efficiency, clearing the glass, and the ability to get to (and convert) at the charity stripe, and Iowa State really doesn’t show weakness anywhere there. As far as 1-seeds losing, I think it’s either going to be Wisconsin or Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen. Villanova is likely going to hit either an underrated Northern Iowa or a Jekyll-and-Hyde Louisville team, and I like UNC’s uptempo over Bo Ryan’s wrestling on the hardwood. I do think Duke is the weakest of the four 1-seeds, but their quadrant is sorry for the most part.
How many Big 12 teams do you think make it to the second weekend (and which ones)?
BWG: Right now, I have 4 in the Sweet 16: Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Iowa State is the only one who makes it much beyond there for me, though. I can make an argument that Texas will make it to the Elite Eight and I can make the same argument for why they’ll be bounced in the first game. Coin flip for the Horns, IMO. Of course, since less than 7 Big 12 teams make it to the Elite Eight, everyone will then talk about how overrated the Big 12 was all year. Meanwhile Bob Huggins will be in the parking lot murdering a bear with a broken beer bottle.
PB: OU and Iowa State look like great bets to make it, but from there it’s no sure thing. Baylor could get thumped by Xavier if Chery doesn’t have his A-game, and Kansas without Alexander looks vulnerable against Wichita State. The Jayhawks, Horns, Bears, and ‘Neers all have a solid shot at the second weekend, but I’ll say only 2 of the 4 survive and advance.
JC: I also have 4. I don’t think West Virginia will make it, though. In fact, I have them upset in the first round. Oklahoma State won’t make it past the first game, and neither will Texas. So that leaves Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Kansas.
Fitzy: Four must be the magic number. I also have ISU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas making it to the Sweet Sixteen.
MK: Yup, make it four for me as well. I’ve got WVU, KU, ISU, and Baylor making it to the Sweet 16, with Baylor bowing out in the Elite Eight (again, PTSD) and like I said, Iowa State making to the Final before getting steamrolled by the unstoppable Calipari death machine. I get really, really high on teams that do awesome in their conference tournaments.
MN: Looks like just about all of us have four making it to the second weekend. I’ve got Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Iowa State. I think Arizona tops Baylor and Notre Dame overcomes Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. I have Oklahoma and Iowa State falling to Villanova and Duke, respectively, in the Elite Eight. The Big 12 is nicely distributed throughout the bracket. It wouldn’t shock me if every Big 12 team made it a round further than I’ve picked them.
JP: I’ve got four Big 12 teams in the second weekend: Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and West Virginia. That’s such a boring answer but I think those teams are safe through the first couple of rounds. The big game that this answer is contingent on is the potential Maryland – West Va game in the round of 32.
MB: I really tried to find a way to get a 5th team into the second weekend, and I think I’ve convinced myself that Texas pulls the upset over Notre Dame to match-up with Kansas again next week. Obviously Iowa State and Oklahoma make it, and I don’t see Baylor having any real trouble until that second weekend, so I’ll be the conference homer and go with 5.
AF: I’m going to jump on this four Big 12 teams in the Sweet Sixteen bandwagon - one from each region. The top of the Big 12 has proven that they can compete with anybody (except Kentucky), and I think that Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Iowa State all have favorable paths to the Sweet Sixteen. It seems lame picking all 2’s and 3’s to advance, but that’s the way I see it.
SJ: Same as everyone else, I have four, Baylor, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas. Kansas isn’t as good without Cliff Alexander, but we should all know by now that you never count out Kansas as Bill Self knows how to coach the NCAA Tournament (don’t ask me what that means).
ER: The Sweet Sixteen will have Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa State playing. KU’s not shooting the ball well enough from the outside to take down Wichita State on the first weekend; I don’t think West Virginia shoots free throws well enough to get an upset on Maryland, and Oklahoma State - if they make it out of the Oregon game - gets smoked by Wisconsin. Baylor is clearly better than their opponents to get there; Oklahoma as well. It’s Iowa State’s destiny this year to make a deep run. Texas/Notre Dame pits the #1 2PFG% offense against the #1 2PFG% defense; I think Texas makes ND one-dimensional and takes them down in a close one to move on to the second weekend.
Biggest Upset of the tournament?
BWG: Whoever beats Kentucky. I’m loathe to say this about a Calipari team, but there’s a reason they have the best shot at an undefeated national championship since UNLV. Also, the concept of offense surviving the Texas/Butler game would be a pretty impressive upset.
PB: UC Irvine stuns Louisville in overtime, 36-35.
JC: Gonzaga will lose in the first round. It’s always wise to pick a big upset in the first weekend, and I think it’ll be Gonzaga this year. Also watch for Villanova to disappoint. I don’t think there’s any chance Kentucky gets beat until the Final Four, and then it’s not really a huge upset
Fitzy: I agree with the "whoever beats Kentucky" angle, but as for what I picked on my bracket, it’s Stephen F. Austin making it to the Sweet Sixteen after beating Utah and Georgetown. The Lumberjacks are in that spot for the classic 5/12 upset in the first round, and I’m not even sure Georgetown will be able to beat an Eastern Washington team that has the nation’s leading scorer in Tyler Harvey (22.9 PPG). Don’t sleep on Brad Underwood’s squad out of the Southland Conference.
MK: My bracket is honestly kind of boring. I have the token "Georgetown lays a hilarious egg" upset with EWU. I also have Ohio State knocking off Arizona in Round 2. Just sort of a gut, D’Angelo Russell goes bananas kind of feeling.
My big one that I feel could happen is Belmont catching fire from three and knocking off Virginia. I hope this happens because Virginia is boring and I’d laugh my ass off.
MN: I have five double-digit seeds making it to the Round of 32: Texas, BYU, UCLA, Eastern Washington, and Buffalo (sorry, Smoking Musket). Is that too many? Probably. I was flabbergasted by Georgetown as a 4 seed. Texas and UCLA overcoming Butler and SMU doesn’t seem too far fetched, and I believe in Tyler Hawes having a big moment in the Tourney for BYU. Here’s my defense for my pick of Buffalo to upset WVU. Buffalo is decent at limiting turnovers, they already play at a high pace, and they have a decent-ish defense. Juwan Staten and Gary Browne’s healthy is still iffy, and the ‘Eers struggle to score if they can’t turn the other team over. This upset pick has the highest probability of looking dumb 15 minutes into the game.
JP: I’ve got a couple of big upsets early on. I’m taking Georgia State over Baylor in the first round but I’m also taking Eastern Washington over G’Town in the opening round. EWU is a team that wants to get out and score and when they’re hot they are capable of beating a team like Georgetown.
MB: I kind of already ruined the surprise here. While I have Stephen F Austin heading to the second weekend over Georgetown, I think Texas over Notre Dame is a bigger upset. I could also see BYU going on a tear and beating Baylor and Arizona in route to the Elite Eight, but I don’t know that I’m ready to be that bold.
AF: Can I pick the rest of the Big East not named Villanova as my upset pick? I have been so unimpressed with the league as a whole this season, and I think they’ll have a brutal opening weekend. I’ve got Texas over Butler, Dayton over Providence, Ole Miss over Xavier, and I think that Georgetown will get all they can handle out of Eastern Washington.
SJ: I think Notre Dame makes a deep run (and they’re my dark horse candidate for the question below) and are really the only team in the Midwest capable of beating Kentucky, so give me Notre Dame in an upset, although I really do think that Kentucky is, by far and away, the best team in the Tournament.
ER: Reading through the above, SFA to the Sweet Sixteen not only wouldn’t be a big upset to me, it would be completely plausible. Both Utah and Georgetown are overseeded in my opinion. Anyone over Kentucky might be the upset of the decade, but I don’t think it’ll happen this year. I would say the 9-seed LSU over 1-seed Villanova is probably the pick I would make for biggest upset of the tournament that is at least plausible.
Who’s your darkhorse Final Four candidate?
BWG: Does it get any darker than Texas? I mean, really, does anybody outside of Rick Barnes’ house see that happening? More realistically, Michigan State seems like a good darkhorse candidate. Never discount Izzo in March; having Villanova as the 1-seed in his region is a nice boost too, since they seem destined to flame out early like, say, every other Nova team in the history of time.
PB: I’ll let BWG talk up Texas, but I’ll stay in-state and suggest that SMU could be a bracket spoiler in the South. Larry Brown’s got an experienced, athletic group. Look out.
JC: I’m going with a really dark horse - Dayton. The 11 seed went to the Elite 8 last year, and they’re being slept on. Too bad they won’t because they’ll have to beat my Sooners in the third round.
Fitzy: Great coaching can take a team far in March/April, and the VCU Rams have one of the best coaches in Shaka Smart. VCU wasn’t a lock to get into the tourney, but they won their conference tournament and now face one of the toughest draws this year… The Rams would more than likely have to go through Arizona, Baylor and Wisconsin to get to Indianapolis - but stranger things have happened. They’re sort of flying under the radar this year as opposed to the last couple, so yeah, look out for the "Smarties."
MK: I heard an interesting comparison this morning on the radio between this year’s Texas team and last year’s Kentucky squad that made it to the Finals. They’re both super underachieving, yet super talented teams that made it into the field and now just have to string together a few games in a row where they just out-talent everyone and go on a run. I don’t think Texas gets out of the first weekend, personally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get hot. I also have Michigan State in the Elite Eight but Izzo in March isn’t a dark horse. I had a four or five year period where I put them in my Final Four on principle.
MN: Am I crazy for liking the Oregon Ducks? They’re a little undersized, but guards rule March, and Joseph Young could absolutely go off. They got stomped by Arizona three times, including the Pac-12 title game, but anything can happen in a single game. We’ve seen guards take otherwise underwhelming teams on runs before (read: UConn 2014), and if we’re picking dark horses, I don’t mind hitching my wagon to Jo Young.
JP: I don’t have anyone lower than a 5 seed in my Sweet 16 because I am a boring person but if I had to pick someone that could make a run I would take Stephen F. Austin. I think they can beat Utah in the first round and if they get Eastern Washington in the Round of 32 then don’t be shocked if the Lumberjacks are still dancing in the Sweet 16.
MB: Again I’m ruining my answers in the question before. The darkhorse I have is BYU. Tyler Haws is the school’s leading scorer, even over one Jimmer Fredette that lit up the college landscape his senior year, and this team has consistently been underrated. It doesn’t hurt that I’m watching them completely dismantle a decent Ole Miss team right now.
AF: I really don’t see any team lower than a 3-seed making a run to the Final Four. Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see Iowa State making a run to Indianapolis. We can debate whether or not a 4-seed can be considered a darkhorse, but I think that North Carolina has a shot to make a Final Four run. UNC is about the lowest seeded team that I could see in Indy.
SJ: Notre Dame is my dark horse candidate, but that’s not really a dark horse as they are a #3 seed. Would it be crazy to pick Northern Iowa? They’re 18th in the country in AdjO and 15th in AdjD and they lost three games all year. I hate that they are in Villanova’s bracket, but they have as balanced a team in the Tournament.
ER: I’m with Andrew - I don’t see anyone lower than a 3-seed making the Final Four, either. Put a gun to my head, and I’ll go with Izzo. I can’t even stretch on anyone else.
What’s your favorite NCAA tournament memory? It can be either for your team or just in general (feel free to give both if you want).
BWG: IT WAS A FOUR SECOND COUNT!! *tosses chair through highrise window*
PB: Watching TJ Ford cut down the nets in San Antonio. Pure. Bliss.
JC: It’s really recent, but Louisville winning the whole thing in 2013 after the terrible Kevin Ware injury. That was a great moment.
Fitzy: For ISU, my personal favorite was Royce White crossing up Andre Drummond and dunking in Fred Hoiberg’s first NCAA Tournament game as a head coach. That play alone set the tone for that game as ISU eviscerated UCONN, the defending national champs.
In general, my favorite moment was Ali Farokhmanesh’s "WHAT THE F*** IS HE DO - HOLY S***!" shot against Kansas back in 2010.
MK: ONE-ARMED JOE MAZZULLA WON A REGIONAL MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER AFTER A GAME WHERE JOHN WALL DEFENDED HIM IN MAN AND HE PLAYED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE 1-3-1 ZONE AGAINST BOOGIE COUSINS. #NEVERFORGET
Beyond that, John Beilein’s 2005 team that made the Elite Eight before losing a heartbreaker to Louisville is probably my all-time favorite WVU team. Ian Eagle calling "Gansey is lethal!" as we took out Chris Paul and Wake Forest is one of those moments that still gives me goosebumps. That team was so much fun. Watch the highlight video on YouTube some time. Basketball porn.
MN: My freshman year was Baylor’s first Elite Eight run. In the Sweet Sixteen, they faced Saint Mary’s Gaels. Now, the game itself wasn’t especially remarkable, but Josh Lomers (AKA ‘The Big Asthmatic’), who was a punching bag all season, absolutely shut down Omar Samhan, who came into the game talking a lot of smack and was rumored to have ‘Beast’ tattooed onto his lower lip. The memory of watching Lomers destroy Samhan in such a big game is something that will always make me smile.
JP: There are so many great moments in the Dance. A couple of them stick out in my young life:
1) The 2011 Tournament as a whole. There were no No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in the final weekend and Cinderella stories VCU and Butler were making their name known around the nation. Everyone loves upset and 2011 had all the upsets and more.
2) Story time – I am student at Oklahoma State but I grew up an OU fan in the heart of Sooner country – Norman, Oklahoma. The 2001-02 Sooner team that went to the final four was a fun team. I remember Hollis Price coming to my 2nd grade class and letting us try on his jersey and talking to us for an hour or so. That team had Hollis Price, Johnnie Gilbert, Aaron McGhee and Ebi Ere on it and that was such a fun year.
3) I haven’t developed any memories as an OSU fan because Travis Ford sucks.
MB: I feel that the 2008 title game would be too obvious. And even the complete beatdown of UNC in the Final Four that year doesn’t do it for me. Instead, I’ll go with the entire game against Purdue in the 2012 tournament. Not only was that game extremely dramatic with a good ending for my team, I also got to interact with a fanbase full of class over at Hammer and Rails both during and after the game. And of course that game was just a prelude to another deep tournament run.
My favorite non-Kansas memory would have to be watching George Mason making their run to the Final Four in 2006. I remember working in the plasma donation center when they upset Connecticut. I was supposed to be sticking someone, but we all just stood there mouths agape as George Mason finished off that game, and we officially adopted them as our team for the rest of the tournament.
AF: Since I was five years old the last time the Frogs went to the NCAA Tournament, I don’t have any memories involving TCU. We did have a sweet First Round CBI win over Milwaukee in 2012 though. That was fun. Strangely enough, both of my favorite NCAA Tournament memories involve Kansas. The 2008 National Championship Game against Memphis was all kinds of ridiculous. The way that Memphis collapsed with the roster that they had was nuts. And Mario Chalmers’ shot to send it into OT is an all-timer. I also loved the 2013 Sweet Sixteen game between Kansas and Michigan. I was lucky enough to be in attendance, and it is by far the greatest game I have ever seen live.
SJ: It was Steve Alford and that 1987 Championship for Indiana. That’s when I really started to come into sports’ consciousness and I’ll never forget that team, Keith Smart and Dean Garrett and those two guys being Bob Knight’s first JUCO players, or something like that.
ER: 2010 NCAA tourney, with K-State making it to the Elite Eight and lost to the eventual runner-up Butler led by Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward. Pullen out-Jimmer’ed Jimmer Fredette in the second round against BYU, then the double-OT thriller against Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen were just amazing games to watch, purple glasses aside.
Who do you have making the Final Four, Championship Game, and winning it all?
BWG: Right now, I have Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa State, and Villanova(I know what I said earlier, but I’m not ballsy enough to pick a 7-seed this year), with Wisconsin beating Iowa State for the NC. Tomorrow I’ll probably have VCU beating the 76ers because I’m in full-on Waffle Mode right now.
PB: I haven’t filled out my bracket yet, but I’m leaning towards Kentucky, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and SMU/Iowa State winner. Give me Wisconsin and Oklahoma in the final, with the Badgers cutting down the nets.
JC: I have Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa State, and Oklahoma. I’m sure the rest of the guys at CCM will kill me, but I have to make up for picking them to lose in the first round last year. For the Championship Game, I’ll go ISU and Wisconsin with the Badgers winning it all.
Fitzy: My Final Four is Kentucky, Wisconsin, Villanova (that’ll come back to bite me later) and Iowa State. Championship game: Kentucky vs. ISU. Winner: BURN EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND AND RIOT LIKE IT’S VEISHEA!
MK: Kentucky, Villanova, North Carolina, and Iowa State. Kentucky over the Cyclones in the Final. UK’s going to make history and kill everyone along the way.
MN: My Final Four is Kentucky, Villanova, Arizona, and Duke. I hate it. My championship game is Kentucky over Duke. It’s the worst thing ever. I’m part of the problem.
JP: This was tough because I feel like my picks are so vanilla. I’ve got Wisconsin beating Kentucky in one semifinal and Duke beating Oklahoma in the other. In the title game everyone will see Okafor and Kaminsky battle to the death with Coach K and Duke winning the national championship.
MB: I’ve got Kentucky and Wisconsin in one matchup, with Oklahoma and Iowa State matching up in the other. Kentucky beats Iowa State in the championship, and we all have to listen to an insufferable Kentucky fanbase talk about how this team is the best ever for the rest of time. I sure hope I’m wrong, because that would be absolutely depressing.
AF: I don’t see Kentucky dropping a game. There’s just too much talent and their team is just too deep. They’ll cut down the nets as the first undefeated National Champion since Bob Knight’s 1976 Indiana Hoosiers (at least until the NCAA vacates the season). My bracket isn’t too exciting, so I have Virginia, Arizona and Duke rounding out my Final Four. I’m taking Kentucky over Virginia 70-57 in the Championship.
SJ: I’m boring, so I’m thinking Kentucky, Wisconsin, Villanova and Duke. Kentucky is the best team, but they haven’t played a team like Wisconsin that will just beat you up, so I think that will be a great Final Four match-up and I think Wisconsin takes that game and the National Championship over Villanova.
ER: My Final Four are Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia, and *icantmakeupmymind* Duke/Iowa State. Kentucky has to beat themselves to lose in this tournament - their second five would still be a Top-25 ranked team.
And now for some fun. It’s time for the Mascot of America Pageant, and the Big 12 mascots all got invited. Tell us what your mascot would do for the talent portion of the competition.
BWG: Is it too much to ask for Bevo to gore John Calipari? Probably. Alright, how about he migrates to Ames, offers a free longhorn ride to Fred Hoiberg, then walks him all the way back to Austin?
PB: Bevo offers a Public Service Announcement to all the aspiring pageant girls out there: this is what you look like when you chew gum. Do not want!
JC: Boomer and Sooner give free pony rides to the judges. BOOM.
Fitzy: Cy transforms into an actual tornado. Then, he blows through ESPN’s campus, getting revenge on them once and for all for confusing us with the Hawkeyes for the 1,845,835th time. That’s impressive, right?
MK: /mountaineer wins by default due to mysterious hunting accidents
MN: Bruiser would perform various tricks while riding a unicycle, including but not limited to hand stands, crossing a tightrope, and an impressive (if not excessive) amount of flexing. Flexing wins pageants, right?
JP: This is the hardest question I’ve been asked in a long time. Other than scaring the crap out of kids, Pistol Pete isn’t great at much. If I were Pete’s talent coach I would have him get into a shootout with Raider Red of Tech because no one likes Tech.
MB: Unlike Josh, this is the easiest question to answer. Jay will walk out on stage to a table lined with the 11 straight Big 12 regular season trophies. He grabs the first two as he walks by, and tosses them into the air. Baby Jay walks out on stage as well, and starts tossing more at Jay, who seamlessly adds them to the ones already in the air. Once they are all airborne, a video plays with the highlights of all the teams from the last 11 years. No eye is left dry.
AF: This is a no-brainer. Horned Frogs can shoot blood out of their eyes. Not only that, but the blood is foul tasting and serves to disorient predators. If you aren’t impressed yet, the blood can travel distances up to five feet. Seriously. Look it up.
SJ: Shooting guns off or a horse would be a pretty neat trick, and if we’re choosing the other mascot, Raider Red, the this is about all he has:http://cdn2.sbnation.com/imported_assets/1360405/mascotstareSOON.gif?_ga=1.254491086.719981479.1406768239
ER: This one’s easy for me as well. Thirty five half-assed pushups, wipe his nose, and shape "K - S - UUUUUUUU" with his body.