• November 28, 2014

Analysis Baylor, Iowa State provide image boost for battered Big 12

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Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014 12:49 am

The way Baylor pounded Creighton on Sunday the rest of the nation may forget how mediocre the rest of the Big 12 performed in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament this weekend.

The conference was a middling 6-5 this past weekend, with regular season champ Kansas going down in the round of 32 and just two teams advancing to the Sweet 16 in conference tournament champ Iowa State and Baylor.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State lasted one game in the Big Dance while Texas needed a putback by Cameron Ridley to survive No. 10 seed Arizona.

The Longhorns followed that with a 14-point loss to Michigan that took a bit of the luster off of an overachieving season that began with Texas picked to finish eighth in the conference.

Iowa State, meanwhile, needed a layup in the final seconds to beat a North Carolina team that Texas outplayed on the road earlier this season.

But then there was Baylor.

The Bears beat Nebraska by 14 on Friday in a win that was convincing if not pretty.

But Baylor followed that up by torching No. 3 seed Creighton in a game it led by 10 at the half.

In that game, the Bears showed everything that made them one of the hottest teams in the nation entering this weekend and one of the most confounding when they began conference play

2-8.

Baylor boasts a nice balance of guards who can handle the ball as well as they shoot it and athletic bigs who can own the paint on both ends of the floor.

The Bears move on to face No. 2 seed Wisconsin, which is fresh off of outlasting Oregon in a glorified home game in Milwaukee.

The Badgers won’t have that same homecourt advantage in Anaheim and the same combination of shooting and athleticism that Oregon utilized to nearly beat Wisconsin figures to benefit Baylor as well.

If Baylor can defeat Wisconsin, Killeen graduate Cory Jefferson and Harker Heights graduate Royce O’Neale will find themselves one win away from the Final Four.

Not bad for a team that was fighting its way out of the bottom four of the Big 12 not long ago.

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