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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Thanksgiving is a holiday with longstanding traditions. Prayers of thanks are a part of the Thanksgiving celebrations in many households across the country. Partaking in the celebrations, I began to reflect on the things that I’m most thankful for. My family, pets, home, health and the Big 12 conference are all things that I’m thankful for. Yes, I said the Big 12 conference and to be more specific Big 12 men’s basketball. Here are twelve reasons why I’m thankful for the Big 12 men’s basketball conference in the year 2012.
One, I’m thankful for the Big 12’s rich tradition of excellence on and off the court. On the court, the conference has been a part of 178 NCAA Tournament games, 34 Final Fours and has won 5 National Championships (Kansas 3, Texas 2). The conference off the court has yielded many Academic All-Americans lead by past greats like Kansas guard Jacque Vaughn (1996-97). In the age of one and done it’s great to see the importance of life after basketball in regards to getting an education.
Two, I’m thankful for great coaching. With any program’s success it starts at the top. It’s no different in the Big 12. From top to bottom the league’s coaches know their X’s and O’s, although it’s not only their knowledge of the game that set them apart from others in the coaching ranks. The foundational core values of their programs have led to the development of hundreds of young men on the court and in the classroom.
Three, I’m thankful for three top 25 ranked teams (Kansas 11, Baylor 21, Oklahoma State 22). There are many factors that play into a team being considered one of the nation’s best. But when it comes down to it coaches coach and players play, something all three teams are doing well right now.
Four, I’m thankful for historical home court venues. Going on the road in the Big 12 a picking up a victory is no cake walk. Whether it be 16,300 Kansas fans chanting ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk’ within the confines of Allen Fieldhouse after a victory or 14,356 Iowa State fans witnessing ‘Hilton Magic’ as the Cyclones connect from long-range as the buzzer sounds there are vacations. Gallagher-Iba Arena home of the Oklahoma State Cowboys also ranks up there as one of the best home court advantages in the Big 12.
Five, I’m thankful for new traditions. West Virginia and TCU are welcomed editions to the Big 12 as Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC. While it is difficult to watch Missouri and Texas A&M take their programs to a football dominated conference it exciting to see a program that isn’t far removed from a Final Four in West Virginia. Although TCU traditionally has had much success, but are moving forward with new head coach Trent Johnson. Johnson is a proven winner leading Stanford and LSU to NCAA births.
Six, I’m thankful for top recruiting classes. The conference is loaded with talent. Four teams from the Big 12 had top 25 recruiting classes Texas (4), Baylor (5), Kansas (13) and Oklahoma State (22) with eleven players being ranked in the top 100 ESPN/Scouts rankings.
Seven, I’m thankful for the conference’s mascots. Some of the country’s most notable mascots are from the Big 12. Bruiser (Baylor), Cy (Iowa State), Big Jay (Kansas), Willie (Kansas State), Boomer and Sooner (Oklahoma), Pistol Pete (Oklahoma State), Hook’em (Texas), Super Frog (TCU), Raider Red (Texas Tech) and The Mountaineer (West Virginia) are all the face of your school.
Eight, I’m thankful for the underrated player. Iowa State senior guard Tyrus McGee is the best player you’ve never heard of. McGee is averaging 13.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks a game. Statically these numbers might not jump out on a box score, but McGee’s ability to change a game with his instant energy. If there’s a fifty-fifty ball it’s belongs to McGee. Did I mention he shooting 54 percent from 3 point land.
Nine, I’m thankful for rivalries. No longer do we have Kansas and Missouri, but there’s still plenty of fire in the pan. There are the interstate rivals Kansas and Kansas State along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Oh yeah there’s a rivalry known as the Red River Rivalry featuring two teams that can’t stand each other Oklahoma and Texas. The games aren’t played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the middle of October, but it still means something.
Ten, I’m thankful for a round robin schedule. As a ten team league, the Big 12 features a round robin schedule. I believe this format gives the league a true champion and is good for the fan.
Eleven, I’m thankful for the fans. The passion of the Big 12 fans is second to none! Without the fans basketball would be just a game.
Twelve, I’m thankful for the opportunity to cover my passion, Big 12 men’s basketball.
Scores from the week
Friday November 16
Oklahoma 63, UT Arlington 59
Colorado 60, Baylor 58
Oklahoma State 62, Tennessee 45
Sunday November 18
Iowa State 88, Campbell 68
Oklahoma State 76, North Carolina State 56
Baylor 97, St. John’s 78
TCU 44, Prairie View 39
Kansas State 74, North Florida 55
Monday November 19
Kansas 78, Washington State 41
Chaminade University 86, Texas 73
Tuesday November 20
Kansas 73, Saint Louis 59
Texas Tech 91, Grambling State 56
Iowa State 86, North Carolina A&T 57
TCU 47, Navy 45
USC 59, Texas 53
Wednesday November 21
Texas 69, Mississippi State 55
Kansas State 66, Delaware 63
Thursday November 22
West Virginia 87, Marist 44
Oklahoma 68, UTEP 61
-Games to watch 11/23 through 11/29…
11/23- West Virginia vs. Davidson (Old Spice Classic Orlando, Florida 11:30am ct ESPN)
11/23- Kansas State vs. #4 Michigan (NIT Season Tip-Off New York, New York 3:30pm ESPN)
11/23- Iowa State vs. #22 Cincinnati (Global Sports Classic Las Vegas, Nevada 5:30pm ct CBS Sports Network)
Big 12 Standings (As of November 15 4:49pm central time)