Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ben McKeown/AP/Shutterstock (13783440h) East Carolina’s RJ Felton (3) is defended by Houston’s Tramon Mark, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Greenville, N.C Houston E Carolina Basketball, Greenville, United States – 25 Feb 2023
Fred Faour: Future Big 12 basketball teams add up to a great conference
So a little math quiz: What do the numbers 1, 3, 7, 11, and 22 have in common?
That’s where the five ranked basketball teams in the new-look Big 12 appear in the latest AP Poll. While the realignment was done for football purposes, this has all the earmarks of one of the best basketball conferences in the country.
Houston (1), Kansas (3), Baylor (7), Kansas State (11), and TCU (22) are all serious threats to make deep runs in March. (Texas is No. 9, but for this purpose we will count them with the SEC).
Now, there will be some cannibalism between these teams. But all would be legitimate contenders.
While polls are nice, they are purely subjective. For the purposes of our little math game, we will use NET rankings. In those, the big five are 1, 6, 12, 17, and 20. In addition, West Virginia is 24 and Iowa State is 28.
Other teams in the NET that could make the tournament include Oklahoma State (47) and Texas Tech (52).
So based on NET, the new Big 12 has six top-25 teams. Let’s look at some of the other major conferences. The SEC has four (2, 3, 16, 21 – with Texas A&M on the cusp at 26). Alabama (2) and Tennessee (3) lead the field. If you count Texas, which is totally fair, the SEC has five.
No one else is close.
The Big Ten has just two, led by No. 5 Purdue.
The ACC has one – Duke at 23.
The Pac-12 also has two – No. 4 UCLA and No. 11 Arizona, although UCLA will at some point be headed to the Big Ten.
Interestingly enough, the WCC has two top-10 teams in St. Mary’s and Gonzaga.
What does it all mean? It all adds up to a very strong basketball future in the Big 12.