COLUMN: Big 12 gets no respect


Frank Martin painted a pretty clear picture during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. The Big 12 Conference isn’t getting any respect, the second-year coach attested, and something needs to be done about it.

“I think it’s a travesty and a joke the way our league is portrayed by our local media and the national media,” Martin said. “For our league to not get at least five teams in [the NCAA Tournament] would be a complete travesty to what college basketball is about.”

We’ve often heard of the East Coast bias, but it seems to be more than that. A mock exercise was recently conducted by the NCAA and ESPN, and the discoveries are mind-boggling.

The ACC led the way with eight teams making the 65-team tournament field, while the Big 10 and Big East followed that up with seven each, and the Pac-10 and SEC received five bids in the exercise. The Big 12 came in with the least bids out of the major BCS conferences with only four teams.

But the numbers don’t add up, which brings me to question what these mock analysts and talking heads are looking at. The Big 12 has nine teams that rank in the top-75 of the Ratings Percentage Index, only second to the Big East Conference, which has 11 teams in the top-75. However, the Big East has four more teams than the Big 12, which is the likely reason for that. The following teams trail the Big 12 in teams ranked in the top-75: The Big 10 has eight teams, the ACC has eight, the SEC has six teams, and the Pac-10 has five teams.

The nine teams in the Big 12 went a combined 24-15 against teams in the top-75 of the RPI during the nonconference portion of the schedule. Of those wins, 16 of 24 came against teams in the top-50 of the RPI, including wins over Villanova, UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Tennessee, Purdue, California, LSU, Utah and USC twice.

Out of all the major conferences, the Big 12 comes in second only to the Big East in total nonconference wins, due to the Big East having more teams.

So why is the Big 12 getting such little respect? Martin would like an answer.

“Our league is real good,” Martin said. “And because some of the teams that people thought weren’t gonna be any good have won games, now all of a sudden it makes our league no good.

Martin said the situation was a “crying shame.”

“Our league is looked at as being inferior, and that’s unfortunate,” he said. “It’s a disgrace, and it’s bad journalism.”

So either the RPI isn’t as big of a factor as daily bracketologists tell us, or there’s a built-in bias in this process by the media. Nonetheless, changes should come, because as Martin said, it’s a shame.