Big XII: Wrapping It All Up

By Jean Neuberger - March 10, 2007

What a tournament we've had here in Oklahoma City. We've had 11 great games, a record-breaking attendance, upsets galore, a darkhorse team that made it to the end, and a happy home crowd watching their Sooners claim the Big XII Tournament title.

The Big XII proved that it is a conference of parody, and when you have so many strong teams, that only speaks to the quality of the conference. From the first game, where Colorado came from behind to stun Texas Tech, all the way to the title game, we've seen teams playing their hearts out. No money's shoe contracts or anything like that (well, Courtney Paris might get one pretty soon). This was about pride, and the love of the game, and twelve teams can leave Oklahoma City knowing they left everything they had on the court.

However, when it came down to it, we had a final with two outstandng basketball teams. We had the balanced, super-talented Oklahoma squad, loaded at every position, playing in front of the biggest crowd in state history, looking to continue their mission to a national title. And then, we had Iowa State, the team that no one expected to be here, but they made their fourth game in four days by playing with sheer guts and energy, and were carried through in the end with senior leadership guiding them all the way.

No doubt Oklahoma should be a #2 seed in the tournament, perhaps even a #1 seed. Texas A&M and Baylor are likely in the 3-4 seed position, and if it were me, I'd give Iowa State a 4 seed and let them play close to home. The Cyclones are a hot team, and with the number of quality wins they've produced, the NCAA should reward the grit and hustle of the Cyclones with a high seed. I think Nebraska will get in as a 6-7 seed, and then it gets rough from there. Oklahoma State would've been a lock had they beaten Kansas, but the Jayhawks prove that in March, anything can happen, and I wouldn't be surprised if Kurt Budke's squad was left behind in the Big Dance. Many of the elder statesmen in the conference, including Baylor's Kim Mulkey, are clamoring for Texas to get an at-large bid. This one I'm going to have to pass. Yes, Jody Conradt has won 900 games, and yes, there is tradition at Texas. But tradition shouldn't get you a ticket...winning games should, and Texas didn't win enough games this year.

Courtney Paris is the real deal. She's like a female Shaquille O'Neal, even down to the free throw shooting (gotta work on that Courtney!) But she's definitely a beast inside, and no one in the country has been able to shut her down. This is why Oklahoma has a serious chance to win the national title. On the men's side, you see Texas and Kevin Durant, and he's a big guy who carries the team on his shoulders, much like Paris does with the Sooners. The difference is the supporting cast. While Texas has few solid players to back Durant up, Paris has a variety of options to pass off to if she's being trapped, including her twin sister Ashley. Leah Rush is deadly from 3-point range, as is Jenna Plumley, and Kendra Moore is clutch when the Sooners need her to be. Sherri Coale has built an incredible team at OU, and it again makes you wonder about getting coaches from the high school ranks. Remember, Coale wasn't an assistant anywhere....she came to OU from Norman High School. Impressed?

So, look for OU to make a lot of noise in the Women's NCAA Tournament. I'd expect Texas A&M to make a run, Baylor to make a good run, and don't ever count out Iowa State. The way that team plays, there's no limit to how far they can go as well.

And with that, we close the 2007 Big XII Tournament. I'd like to thank the people of Oklahoma City and the conference for all they've done, as well as the many student volunteers who helped us out immensely. Except for the fiasco with the wireless Internet in the second half tonight, it's been a pretty good tournament here in the OKC. We'll be watching all of the Big XII participants next week when the NCAA Women's Tournament begins, but for now, we bid you good night from Oklahoma City, where the hometown Sooners have won the 2007 Big XII Women's Tournament.

Posted by Jean Neuberger at 10:06 PM on March 10, 2007

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