Kansas City fans are probably not that into the outcome of the Super Bowl. I am in Las Vegas and not sure I have the heart to make a wager on the game. I do hope it is a good game. If it is a dog a lot of people may go back into a depressed mode dwelling on what might have been.
Enough about football. College basketball season is in full swing and over the past weekend the SEC/Big 12 Challenge series produced some interesting games. They gave some insight into the quality of play in both leagues going into the final stretch run.
Kansas has dominated the Big 12 for a decade and a half. They will be really challenged to repeat this season. They have a solid young team but between injuries and players sitting out, their chances have been diminished.
The Big 12 is solid from top to bottom. KU’s loss to last-place West Virginia may be the poison pill that sets them up for a failure to win a 15th straight conference title. The top teams in the Big 12 are KU, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State and TCU. Texas and Oklahoma will be tough outs at home. Oklahoma State is finding its footing at the end of the season and West Virginia is a very nasty place to play. Whoever is able to win all their home conference games has a real shot to win the championship.
KU, however, does not lose home games, so they still remain the Big 12 team to beat. Allen Fieldhouse is the loudest venue and opposing teams come into the arena knowing they must play over their heads to pull one out. The Jayhawks need floor leadership, particularly at the end of games.
Kansas State is great defensively and plays hard, but scoring has been a challenge in many close games. Baylor is better than most people give them credit for, but the Bears have not won at Allen Fieldhouse for many moons. Texas Tech has the athletes and style of game that gives everyone in the conference fits. Iowa State is the team no one likes to play and come Big 12 tournament time, the Cyclones always bring a huge following to Kansas City. They are always a threat to win the Big 12 tournament.
TCU is very well coached and tough to beat on the road. Texas should be good because of all the talent and money the program has. The problem is Texas always seems to struggle in big games. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia have struggled at times this year, but you can bet your lunch they will play everyone in the league tough on their home court.
The Big 12 usually has depth each year. The ACC has the bigger names with Duke, North Carolina and Virginia but the bottom feeders of the ACC may not be at the level of the Big 12.
This may be the year that the SEC flexes it muscle. Tennessee is for real with a lot of experienced talent. They are a threat to make the Final Four. Eight other teams have a shot to make the NCAA Tournament. LSU, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State and Auburn appear to be tournament possibilities. Mizzou is improving but they must go on a big run during the rest of the SEC conference schedule and play out of sight in the SEC Tournament in order to get a bid. Georgia, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are the bottom feeders.
The Big Ten has a solid, competitive league this year. Michigan State and Michigan are very good teams, but you can not go to sleep on Purdue, Maryland, Wisconsin or Iowa.
In the Pac-12 the top six teams are Washington, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon State, USC and Utah. And if you are talking NCAA tournament on the West Coast, you cannot forget Gonzaga.
We can do all kinds of speculation at this time of year, but the same Division I programs seem to make noise when it counts in the basketball world. The bottom line is that whichever teams are the hottest and play the best down the stretch will be the teams still playing at the end of the year.
The next seven weeks for college basketball fans will be warm in the dead of winter. It is a great time of the year for basketball lovers. There is nothing better than the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The Chiefs are not in the Super Bowl, but good times are still ahead for basketball fans.
• Pitchers and catchers report for spring training on Feb. 13. The Royals will improve from a 104 losses in the 2018 season.
• The Chiefs new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, likes to run the 4-3 defense instead of the Bob Sutton 3-4. That is a good thing. Overall the Chiefs’ defensive personnel is better suited for the 4-3 – if they can find a middle linebacker who will run down hill and tackle people at the point of contact.
• My quote of the week comes from college basketball coach Bill Foster: “Negative thoughts are contagious and they get passed around like a disease. I try to inoculate myself from the fear and failure.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.