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Monday, December 14, 2009
Big 12 hoops state case as nation's best

By Jeff Caplan

Big 12 basketball coaches have long pleaded for a broader national spotlight on their conference, but this is football country and Big 12 basketball often gets overlooked as being an elite league. Of course, Kansas, a former Big 8 school, is a perennial power and Rick Barnes has built Texas into an annual tourney team.

Big 12 basketball coaches are banging the drum again for greater attention and they say they have the numbers worthy of being called the nation's best basketball conference.

So far in the non-conference season, the Big 12 has posted a 91-20 record (an .827 winning percentage). The conference is 5-1 against Top 25 competition. The 20 losses are the fewest of any conference and if the Big 12 can finish the non-conference slate with an .800 winning percentage it will do so for the first time.

"We’ve argued about this before with our league, we’ve got to publicize this league as a basketball league because I think we’ve always had one of the top two leagues in the country every year and sometimes we get overlooked," Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said. "We should be sitting there on Selection Sunday worried if we’re going to get six teams in. We should always get six teams in and maybe a seventh like a year we’re having this year."

Already, No. 2 Texas has wins over Iowa, Pittsburgh and USC, with consecutive games upcoming against last year's two national finalists in No. 11 North Carolina (1 p.m., Saturday at Cowboys Stadium) and No. 12 Michigan State. No. 1 Kansas won at UCLA. No. 23 Texas Techdumped ranked Washington, Texas A&M has defeated Clemson and Minnesota. Baylor beat Xavier and Arizona State. Oklahoma beat Arkansas and Arizona.

"I think you can really argue that this is the best league in the country and we should be sitting on Selection Sunday hopefully looking at six or seven teams, because last year everybody was so enamored with the Big East, they should get 10 teams in," Knight said. "I think they’ve got to start focusing more on our league and the better we do in the preseason, each team -- it’s probably the only time we root for each other actually because when the Big 12 starts you want guys to lose so you can finish well -- but right now as a league I think we’re pretty united because we just want to do well and prove that we are one of the best basketball leagues out there."