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Texas Tech gives Big 12 basketball much-needed parity

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Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after beating Gonzaga  (AP Photo)
Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after beating Gonzaga  (AP Photo)


Texas Tech’s surge to the Final Four was quite impressive. The Red Raiders played the highest-seeded team possible in every round, won going away in their first three NCAA Tournament games and won a regional final over Gonzaga that, while tight, was the most one-sided of the four NCAA quarterfinals.

Third-seeded Tech beat top-seeded Gonzaga 75-69 Saturday night to win the West Regional and give Big 12 basketball a much-needed boost.

Tech’s appearance in Minneapolis on Saturday gives the Big 12 its third Final Four team, all from different schools, in the last four years. A conference that seems top heavy in basketball – Kansas and the nine dwarfs – suddenly can spout that its Final Four representation matches any other conference.

The Big 12 has had Tech this year, Kansas last year and OU in 2016. That’s three schools, four years.

The SEC has had Auburn this year, South Carolina in 2017, Kentucky in 2015, and Florida and Kentucky in 2014. That’s four schools in six years.

The ACC has had Virginia this year, North Carolina in 2017, Syracuse and Carolina in 2016, and Duke in 2015. That’s four schools in five years.

The Big Ten has had Michigan State this year, Michigan last year, Wisconsin and Michigan State in 2015, and Wisconsin in 2014. That’s three schools in five years.

And Tech made the Final Four in a season in which it shared the Big 12 championship with Kansas State, ending Kansas’ run of 14 straight years finishing atop the conference.

So the biggest knock against Big 12 basketball – lack of parity – doesn’t carry much weight this season.

Parity once was Big 12 basketball’s calling card. In 2002, OU and Kansas made the Final Four. In 2003, Texas and Kansas each made the Final Four. In 2004, OSU made the Final Four. That’s four schools in three years making a Final Four.

But Kansas’ dominance kicked in, the trio of OSU, OU and Texas slacked off and no one filled the void. Not Missouri before it departed the Big 12. Not Kansas State. Not Iowa State. Not even West Virginia, once it joined the league in 2012.

Buddy Hield’s Sooners changed that in 2016, and Jarrett Culver’s Red Raiders have done the same.

The Big 12’s rough opening weekend – only Texas Tech survived out of six NCAA Tournament teams – left the conference well back of the power pack. But Tech’s two victories in Anaheim, California, has made the Big 12 look a little better.

Here are the NCAA Tournament standings by conference, using the seven most prominent leagues.

ACC: 13-6

Big Ten: 13-7

SEC: 12-6

Big 12: 7-5

Pac-12: 4-3

American: 3-4

Big East: 1-4

First-round losses by Iowa State and Kansas State, then a 1-3 record in the round of 32 doomed the Big 12 to a mediocre record. But Texas Tech’s brilliance in Anaheim has given the Big 12 some 2019 respect and signals that the conference has a measure of parity that it missed for more than a decade.

Related Photos
Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after their win against Gonzaga during the West Regional final in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Texas Tech won 75-69. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after their win against Gonzaga during the West Regional final in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Texas Tech won 75-69. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-fbe9a5a9d5c1096e1b09cdd4660e625e.jpg" alt="Photo - Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after their win against Gonzaga during the West Regional final in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Texas Tech won 75-69. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)" title="Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after their win against Gonzaga during the West Regional final in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Texas Tech won 75-69. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)"><figcaption>Texas Tech players shower coach Chris Beard with confetti after their win against Gonzaga during the West Regional final in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Texas Tech won 75-69. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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