Ball bounces SEC’s way, and this one is round

Saturday’s Final Four could become a five-hour infomercial for the conference. The first national semifinal matches league champion Florida against Connecticut, followed by Kentucky against Wisconsin. This from a conference that placed half as many teams, three, into the NCAA Tournament as the Atlantic-10.

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:

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.

When undefeated Wichita State faces Kentucky, who’s David and who’s Goliath?

Who is the behemoth? Wichita State, perfect in the present, or storied Kentucky, whose fans were so energized about the Wildcats in the preseason that T-shirts reading “40-0” and “The Pursuit of Perfection” were printed? Who is the gritty overachiever? The Shockers, who despite coming off a Final Four opened the season ranked outside the top 15? Or Kentucky, which bids for a Sweet 16 spot with an all-freshman starting lineup?

No bid stealing this year for the NCAA Tournament

Although the bracket collapsed on a few major conference tournaments, like the Big 12, it appears that heading into the final hours of NCAA selection committee deliberations, no team has come off the pace to play its way in. The only drama seems to be about who gets the fourth No. 1 seed.

Big 12 quarterfinal losers know they can play with the country’s best

The NCAA Tournament-bound teams started falling on Thursday. Kansas State first, then Oklahoma State and, finally, Oklahoma. But as they returned home for additional days of rest before Selection Sunday, they did so with disappointment. But they’re also buoyed by the knowledge that it’s unlikely any team they draw next had to march through anything like the Big 12 season.

Which Big 12 team will cut the nets in KC? Eight are capable

This is the 18th Big 12 Tournament, and after the NCAA selection committee does its thing on Sunday, the guess is we will not have seen anything like it. Baylor coach Scott Drew marveled at the field. “Toughest I can remember,” Drew said. “Not even close. More teams can win it this year. Normally, going in there are two or three teams that are the favorites.”

Gators running away in SEC basketball race, Wildcats don’t care

A canyon exists between the Florida Gators and the rest of the SEC. At 12-0, Florida holds a three-game lead on Kentucky, four on Georgia and five on Mississippi. Everybody else has six or more losses. The conference championship race isn’t mathematically over, but it practically is. But it means little either to the coach of the leader or top pursuer.

Apologies go all around in Marcus Smart-Texas Tech fan incident

Apologies were offered by both sides on Sunday, less than a day after Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart pushed Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr during a game. Smart was given a three-game suspension and apologized. So did the fan for his words that triggered the shove, but even if “piece of crap” was Orr’s lone description of Smart, what a rotten thing to call a 19-year-old, Blair Kerkhoff writes.

K-State needs to be better than its best against Kansas on Monday

There’s nothing else like it in major-college basketball, Kansas’ command of Kansas State on the Wildcats’ floor. But if there was ever an occasion for a short memory for K-State, it is now. Not just because the longer view when it comes to Monday’s Sunflower State clash is loaded with failure, but because the most recent exercise was such a positive.

Can college athletes of the world unite into a labor union?

Tuesday, an undisclosed number of Northwestern University football players moved to form a union, the College Athletes Players Association. There is a broader message here. As the college sports model changes, influenced more and more by television revenue that enriches coaches and administrators, athletes should be a bigger part of the evolution.

Iowa State runs into rough stretch

The Cyclones are in the throes of eight straight against the powerhouses, and this helps explains Iowa State’s three-game skid heading into Saturday’s home meeting against Kansas State.

Guard Naadir Tharpe has the answer for Jayhawks vs. Cowboys

The biggest difference-maker in Kansas’ 80-78 victory/escape over Oklahoma State on Saturday was not Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, Phil Forte or Jamari Traylor. KU point guard Naadir Tharpe was good early and dependable late. His production flowed steady, and his confidence never wavered.

Take the good with the bad with KU's Joel Embiid

So, when Joel Embiid isn’t elbowing somebody in the noggin’ or pulling somebody to the floor, the Kansas big man and physical specimen is something to behold. “I think Embiid is the best player in the country,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.

Title site for Division II football ready for a change

Florence, Ala.'s run of nearly three decades as host of the NCAA Division II national title game ended Saturday with Northwest Missouri State’s 43-28 triumph over Lenoir-Rhyne. Next year, the event moves to the Heartland —to Sporting Park — and the soccer stadium becomes a football championship site for some of the same reasons it landed in Alabama.

In the final analysis, the BCS worked

With the handoff of the crystal ball from BCS president Bill Hancock to either Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher or Auburn’s Gus Malzahn on Monday, an era in college football will conclude, and the immediately consensus of opinion will be, good riddance. They forget that before the BCS, certain national championship games could not be arranged.

BCS gets its final championship game right

Today, and on this day for the previous 15 years, we debate whether the BCS got it right. This year, like most, it did with a championship game that matches Florida State and Auburn. So, as we consider this year’s pairings — and there are some attractive ones — let’s plug in this season’s results into next year’s format and pretend the College Football Playoff is already upon us.

Bowl Championship Series era will end without a Mizzou appearance

With its 59-42 loss to Auburn on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship, Missouri will conclude this chapter of college football history without a chance to play in the Bowl Championship Series. Maybe Missouri’s fortune will change in the new system, the College Football Playoff, because if any program is worthy of the sports grandest stage based on its accomplishments, it’s Mizzou.

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