Justin Jackson, WVU Sports

NCAA tourney not a coup for conference pride

Maybe someday, we as college basketball fans and college coaches alike can move past the whole which-conference-is-best discussion.
Somehow, someway it pops its head up on the national scale once the Final Four is settled.
See, I told you the Big Ten was for real.
Or, Man, the Big 12 really showed everyone why it was the best league in America.
Never understood how four teams — especially when they are from four different leagues — who simply survived and made it this far was any kind of statement toward the conference they came from.
It’s not. Kansas making the Final Four no more legitimizes the Big 12’s national standing in the college basketball world than a bald man legitimizes a razor.
When the rankings come out for next season, voters aren’t going to start bumping WVU, Texas Tech or Kansas State into the top 10 simply because all three teams competed well against Kansas.
The statement that it makes is that Kansas is a damn good program with a fantastic coach.
The statement is that Malik Newman finally began to play like the player he was recruited to be and that Devonte’ Graham probably deserved more credit on a national scale than he received.
But the talking heads — and the old and disgruntled local column writer — need something to discuss, so we break down the conferences in a big-picture sort of way.
In truth, all the numbers point to the Big 12, and if WVU had knocked off Villanova, the conference would have had half of the Elite Eight teams.
I admit it, that would have been impressive.
But, surprise, Kansas is the only one who seriously challenged for the Final Four.
WVU and Texas Tech couldn’t keep up with Villanova, and Kansas State beat Kentucky but was then upset by Loyola Chicago, so they broke even.
Add to that TCU, Texas and Oklahoma were all weak first-round exits, and what do you really got?
Oklahoma State and Baylor combined for three NIT wins and are both eliminated from that tournament.
What national statement did the Big 12 make that it hasn’t already made a dozen times in past seasons?
Kansas is great and the rest of us are pretty good.
If we can, let’s be honest here for a moment; you can say the Big 12 was the best.
I say the best of what?
The ACC was vastly overrated. The Pac-12 was an absolute dumpster fire.
The SEC was improved but didn’t take very long in the postseason to prove it was still a one-team league.
The Big Ten was solid. Michigan State got a raw deal with its NCAA seed, and Michigan picked the right time to get hot.
The Big East was good, but again, are teams like Creighton, Providence and Butler going to shoot right up the relevance scale because of what Villanova accomplished?
Probably not, and we say that knowing full well Providence, Creighton and Butler all beat the Wildcats during the season.
Maybe one day we can move past all of this and simply judge teams on their own merit and quit boosting a program’s ego or detracting from it based on the league it plays in.
Alas, that day does not appear to be in sight.