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Big 12 flexes its muscle during the first weekend of NCAA Tournament

Heading into the NCAA Tournament, there was a large discussion about who the best conference in the country might be. After the dust has settled from a crazy opening weekend, it is clear the Big 12 is the best basketball conference in the country.

The Big 12 brought six teams to the tournament, and all six won at least one game. Now heading into the Sweet Sixteen, the Big 12 has three teams remaining, and showed the whole country they can hang with the best of the best.

Each conference uses the NCAA Tournament as a measuring stick for how good their respective teams are. The Big 12 could have easily put more teams in the tournament. Oklahoma was one of the first four teams out of the tournament, while Oklahoma State was put on a postseason ban this season.

Six of the nine teams eligible for the NCAA Tournament from the Big 12 made the tournament, and three of those teams are three of the final 16 teams left.

The Big 12 brought Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, Texas, TCU and Iowa State to the tournament. Two teams as one seeds, and five of six being a nine seed or higher.

No. 1 Kansas is in the Sweet Sixteen, having handled Texas Southern and then winning a close game over Creighton. The Jayhawks are set to face No. 4 Providence in the Midwest Region, and if they win they could be matched up against a fellow Big 12 foe.

That team is No. 11 Iowa State. In conjunction with the Big 12’s ascension this March, has been the fall of the Big Ten. The No. 11 Cyclones brought some of that ‘Hilton Magic’ to the Big Dance this year. Iowa State upset No. 6 LSU in the first round, before handing No. 3 Wisconsin; the Big Ten’s regular season champion, a loss.

No. 3 Texas Tech will look to make the Elite Eight, going up against No. 2 Duke. The Red Raiders coasted to a first round win and then their defense was on display for the whole world in their 59-53 win over Notre Dame.

Although TCU’s season is over, the Horned Frogs caught the attention of the entire basketball world late Sunday night. In a matchup against No. 1 Arizona, TCU could have gone away late, but came back and had the ball in a tie game late. It looked as if there should have been a foul called in the closing seconds, which would have sent TCU to the free throw line with the chance to win the game.

TCU, who finished fifth in the conference standings, took one of the best four teams to overtime, proving the Big 12 is no joke.

WIth three teams remaining, the Big 12 has the opportunity to do what it has done in four of the past five years — send a team to the Final Four. Better yet, the Big 12 can also do something no team has done since 1996-1998; send a team to the National Championship game for three consecutive seasons.

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

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