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Big 12 goes from dead to top hoops conference

Jun 14, 2010, 7:23 PM EDT

Turns out the Big 12’s demise was greatly exaggerated.

Thanks to commissioner Dan Beebe’s last-minute proposal to Texas, the Big 12 isn’t disintegrating. Colorado and Nebraska may be gone, but the conference will continue, simply with 10 teams.

Rod Aydelotte/AP

Cue sighs of relief from various parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Texas. There. Feel better?

Now, if the Big 12 stays at 10 teams (forget naming issues for a moment), we can thank the football-driven realignment for providing us with the nation’s best college basketball conference.

That’s right, the best. Ditching deadweight like Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 with no weak links. (Well, maybe Iowa State. Though who knows? Maybe Fred Hoiberg will be a natural…)  Check this lineup:

Kansas is one of nation’s elite programs. Texas brings in elite recruits and hasn’t missed the Big Dance since ’98. Baylor and Kansas State were Elite Eight teams this season. Missouri and Oklahoma got there last season. Oklahoma State has won two NCAA titles and continues to be a March contender. Texas A&M has turned itself from laughingstock (0-16 in league play in 2004) to NCAA tournament mainstay. Texas Tech started the last decade strong and has faded a bit, but is far superior to the ‘Huskers or Buffs.

Those were the league’s worst teams the last 10 years.

Nebraska was the picture of mediocrity. It was 159-149 overall, won 37 percent of its league games and hasn’t been to the NCAA tourney since ’98. It’s average league finish? Eighth.

Colorado was worse. It wasn’t as consistently mediocre, making the Big Dance in 2003 and winning 20 games twice in the last 10 years. But it was dead last in the Big 12 three of the last four years and just lost its coach.

That leaves Texas Tech and Iowa State as the league’s two “pushovers,” though that’s’ hardly the case. Both are among the league’s best home teams – leaving Lubbock or Ames with a victory is about as easy as leaving Lawrence with one – and figure to stay that way.

The new Big 12. It’s not a MEGA conference, and it’s still football driven. But its basketball takes a backseat to no league.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops.

  1. Phil - Jun 14, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Colorado was referred to as Allen Fieldhouse West as there was always more crimson & blue there than black & gold. And I’m sure no one will miss flying in to Boulder in the winter. Great deal for the Big 12. If OU goes to the North div., there will be a monstous money championship game each year in football, and the basketball will rival the ACC & Big East for best in the nation. Plus no lost rivalries unless you liked Larry the Cable guy throwing out touchdown hot dogs in Lincoln. Big deal.

  2. Jason - Jun 15, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    I think it is great to get rid of weaksauce Colorado, and although Nebraska brought some T.V audience, I have yet to see their “comeback” that everyone seems to be talking about. I still think that the Big 12 needs to grab 2 more teams though so we can have a conference championship. My vote would be for TCU and Houston. Both have solid football programs as well as decent basketball programs that would see nothing but growth by moving into such a great basketball conference. 2 other teams that might be looking to make a move would be AZ St. and AZ, as it seemed like they were getting left out of pac-10 talks when the pac-10 was doing everything it could to raid the Big-12. BYU would also be a great addition. They would bring a solid program for both football and basketball. Any way it pans out, getting rid of CO and NEB will only make the Big-12 stronger.

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