Big XII Bummer: Two 14-Seed Takeouts
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So is this really a surprise?
In a sport where pro teams get accused -- and sometimes, rightly so -- of tanking to get that one player who can turn a franchise around, why would it be a stunner that any team in a one-and-done tournament would have its day?
Especially in college hoops, where perception is based on brands and budgets.
But sometimes, when the rubber meets the road, size doesn't matter.
UAB came from Conference USA, where strong squads like Louisiana Tech and UTEP are usually ducked by the big brands during non-con season -- and definitely verboten for traveling to their campuses -- and where there was enough balance in 2014-2015 where they kept beating each other up.
Evidence: the Blazers finished in fifth place and then took a tourney that was anyone's to claim; it might've helped that it was held in Birmingham and there might've been more than just a Dance berth on the line. It definitely helped that an egalitarian field got them attuned to close calls in a season-over scenario.
A commitment to defense marginalized the Cyclones, kept the score low, and in crunch time, UAB answered everything Iowa State threw at them.
Georgia State is not without resources, one of which is a charismatic coach who happens to have a prolific son. That doesn't hurt when the Panthers are down 12 with 2:35 left against Big XII Baylor and need a dagger to finish the comeback and scorch the bracket:
Toss in the Texas Longhorns' early exit -- eye test; yeah right -- as part of a massacre not seen in that state since the Alamo, and the Big XII will have some 'splaining to do if their remaining clubs misfire today. And do know Wichita State is pulling for Kansas. They should get their wish, but Oklahoma State and West Virginia are more than vulnerable. Oklahoma's drawn Albany, which already had its miracle.
But the best the Big XII can do now is 4-3, and that's the point. No conference should get that many bids; those teams have had a season and a tournament to distinguish themselves, and there are other just-as-deserving brands out there.
Time to smash the assumptions.