KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Big 12 has never put more than seven teams in the NCAA men’s tournament.
For the moment, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects eight conference teams making the field on Sunday.
And some Big 12 coaches are saying as many as nine teams might be worthy.
A whole lot will be decided this week with the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships. The opening round starts Wednesday with seventh-seeded Texas facing 10th seed Iowa State and No. 8 Oklahoma State meeting No. 9 Oklahoma. Already the Big 12 has gone through what Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton called an “18-round heavyweight bout” during the regular season.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon, who was at Pittsburgh when the Big East had three No. 1 seeds in 2009, has been impressed with the Big 12.
“This one has been the strongest, the toughest, when you look at the top to bottom,” said Dixon, whose team is squarely in the field regardless of what happens Thursday against Kansas State. “I think there are nine that are good enough. Will the numbers fall that way? But there are definitely nine NCAA-caliber teams at this point.”
One of the bubble teams is Baylor, which faces West Virginia on Thursday and may need a win to solidify a fifth consecutive NCAA bid. ESPN projects the Bears among last