With 7 NCAA teams, Big 12 can validate status as best league

The Big 12 again has seven teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Regular-season champion Kansas is a No. 2 seed, and the No. 3 seeds in three of the four regions are from the Big 12 — tournament champion Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. The league also has the nation’s top cumulative RPI and five top-20 teams in this season’s final AP poll.

“We’re arguably the best conference in the country,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said Monday. “Still, we need to validate that with some tournament wins and some teams advancing.”

This is the second year in a row with seven NCAA teams, making the Big 12 the only league that can boast 14 bids in that span. But only Baylor and Iowa State made it past the opening weekend of the tournament last March, then both lost in the Sweet 16.