Final Four Buzz

The Big 12 and SEC are looking into moving their challenge series to the second week in January for next season.

Kevin Ollie led UConn through basketball turbulence

It has only been three years since Connecticut won its third NCAA title in 2011, but the Huskies experienced plenty of turbulence in that span. Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun retired after the following season. The program was put on academic probation. But Connecticut had a few things going for it, especially coach Kevin Ollie, who has the Huskies in the national semifinals Saturday.

Central Missouri’s Anderson wins one for the good guys

For most of the frantic Division II national title game Saturday, Central Missouri coach Kim Anderson radiated his customary pose of poise. There he stood on the sideline, stoic, his arms crossed, projecting a restrained strength he wanted his team to absorb all through the dizzying nine lead changes and 14 ties in the Mules’ 84-77 win over West Liberty.

Where some of the NCAA Tournament’s final floors wound up

NCAA Tournament games were once played on floors supplied by the arena or campus gym, but for the past three decades or so, courts for the Final Fours and other rounds of the NCAA Tournament are specially made, used for a few days and sold off. Here’s the path of some of the final floors over the years:

Central Missouri reaches NCAA Division II championship game

In the 30th anniversary year of its last NCAA Division II basketball championship, Central Missouri will play for another on Saturday. The 20th-ranked Mules stunned No. 1 Metro State (Colo.) in a dramatic finish Thursday night at the Ford Center, winning 71-69 when the Roadrunners’ last-second three-point try clanged off the rim.

Next to Kansas, Baylor is Big 12’s biggest recent postseason winner

With its heritage and championships, Kansas unquestionably sits at the top of the Big 12 basketball hierarchy. Texas traditionally has been second-best, and several other programs have jumped into the first or second spot on occasion. Of that group, Baylor isn’t the first to come to mind, but the Bears are playing in their third Sweet 16 since 2010.

Defending champion Drury loses in NCAA Division II quarterfinals

Being the defending national champion isn’t easy, and yet, Drury was here Wednesday night with its NCAA Division II championship hopes still alive. Yet, against West Liberty (W.Va.), an up-tempo, high-scoring team, the Panthers ran out of steam in an 85-75 loss to the Hilltoppers in a national quarterfinal at the Ford Center.

Reseeding an NCAA Sweet 16 devoid of KC-area teams

A bit of office banter Tuesday: This marks the first year since 2005 that a Kansas or Missouri school didn’t reach the Sweet 16. That was the year Bucknell knocked out Kansas in the first round, and Missouri and Kansas State didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. But the games continue and some new favorites have emerged. Here’s a stab at reseeding the teams in the Sweet 16:

Kansas’ loss a missed opportunity that had season-long roots

The second-seeded Kansas Jayhawks lost 60-57 on Sunday in the round of 32 to Stanford, a No. 10 seed that last played in this tournament six years ago. They should’ve been so much better than this. They could’ve been remembered as the fun-loving stars who grew together and lived up to one of the sport’s elite brand names.

SEC teams crash the Sweet 16 party

The Southeastern Conference felt disrespected for receiving only two at-large invitations, Kentucky and Tennessee, to the NCAA Tournament, to go along with Florida’s automatic berth for winning the conference tournament. But the leaner SEC is meaner in the NCAA, with all three packed for the Sweet 16.

Stanford turned Kansas’ shooters into doubters and got their attention

With a variety of defensive looks, Stanford planted a seed of doubt with seemingly every Kansas offensive set during the Jayhawks’ 60-57 NCAA Tournament loss Sunday. The outcome came attached with an additional measure of satisfaction for Chasson Randle, the Stanford player whom KU’s Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden said they didn’t know a day ago.