Respect and Expectations

By Jeff Lippman - March 13, 2008

Two governing laws have ruled the Big 12 this season, and they are continuing right through the conference tournament.

Law 1: Expect the unexpected
Law 2: In order to gain respect, you must earn respect

Raise your hand if you expected No. 8 Iowa State to win two games in the Big 12 Tournament, including topping top-seeded Kansas State in overtime to shoot into the semifinals. Anyone?

So what is Iowa State doing? That's right, they're gaining respect. And lot's of it.

With the 66-65 OT victory, the Lady Cyclones win their 20th game on the season, still a big number when tabulating who gains at-large acceptance into the lady's Big Dance. They have now beaten three teams ranked inside the AP Top 25 during the time of the contest in Colorado, Oklahoma State and K-State. Those are all conference foes. It would have been helpful for the Cyclones to pick up another big non-conference win somewhere, but their resume is decent.

If they can somehow beat AP No. 11 Texas A&M - it would be the highest ranked team they've beaten - in today's semis at 6 p.m. ET, that would definitely be enough for at-large acceptance. Of course, at that point they would only be one win away from winning the whole damn Big 12 Tournament. I say dream big and play it safe. Of course, beating A&M today would be unexpected, and as we've learned, that should be expected. Confused? Good, good, my plan is working.

Kansas State, on the other hand, lost a little respect with their loss to the Cyclones. It's funny because, as the conference's No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, they will probably one of the lower seeds in the NCAAs due to their 21-9 record. Four Big 12 teams - Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and A&M - have better overall records.

For first-year coach Gail Goestenkors and Texas, the Longhorns have followed Law 1 all season long and have been dipping in and out of Law 2 in the process.

At 21-11, including wins over NCAA Tournament teams in Kentucky, Arizona State, DePaul, San Diego, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma, the 'Horns have in all probability gained enough respect from the NCAA Selection Committee to warrant at-large acceptance into the field of 64.

But nobody expected the Longhorns to reach the Big 12 semis, beating in-state rivals Texas Tech and No. 2 Baylor in the process. But, again, what nobody expects usually happens in the Big 12 and the Longhorns did win both games, topping the Bears Wednesday, 76-61, and earning more respect as they meet No. 3 Oklahoma State in the semifinals today.

Tonight's games:
No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 4 Texas A&M (6 p.m.)
No. 7 Texas vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State (8:30 p.m.)

More Conference Tournament Action Thursday:

America East First Round
No. 8 Maine vs. No. 9 Stony Brook (7 p.m.)

Big Sky Quarterfinals
No. 6 Northern Arizona vs. No. 3 Montana State (7:35 p.m.)
No. 5 Northern Colorado vs. No. 4 Portland State (9:35 p.m.)

Big West Quarterfinals
No. 3 UC Riverside vs. No. 6 Cal State Fullerton (3 p.m.)
No. 4 Pacific vs. No. 5 Cal Poly (5:30 p.m.)

Colonial Athletic First Round
No. 7 William & Mary vs. No. 10 Georgia State (noon)
No. 6 Northeastern vs. No. 11 George Mason (2:30 p.m.)
No. 8 UNC Wilmington vs. No. 9 Delaware (5 p.m.)
No. 5 Towson vs. No. 12 Hofstra (7:30 p.m.)

The CAA gets underway today. Wow, I'm a poet...say that five times fast. Old Dominion, James Madison, VCU and Drexel have first-round byes and will meet the winners of today's games on Friday.

MEAC Quarterfinals
No. 3 Delaware State vs. No. 6 Morgan State (noon)
No. 5 Maryland Eastern Shore vs. No. 4 Hampton (2:30 p.m.)

Missouri Valley First Round
No. 8 Bradley vs. No. 9 Southern Illinois (7 p.m.)
No. 7 UNI vs. No. 10 Wichita State (9:30 p.m.)

The big girls of the MVC - Illinois State, Evansville, Drake and Creighton - get set to play tomorrow, while the lower seeds battle it out today.

SWAC Quarterfinals
No. 3 Alabama A&M vs. No. 6 Mississippi Valley (noon)
No. 4 Southern University vs. No. 5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5:30 p.m.)

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 11:33 AM on March 13, 2008

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