A Tulsa guide to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) —
The beauty of the NCAA Tournament, also known as "March Madness," is how even the most uninformed less-than-casual sports fan can have success. It's one game. ANYTHING can happen.
With that in mind, here's some background information that Tulsa-area spectators may find interesting about the featured teams this weekend at the BOK Center.
No. 1 Kansas vs No. 16 UC Davis (6:50 p.m. Friday)
There are all kinds of Tulsa ties to this matchup. But they all begin and end with Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self. His head coaching career began in Tulsa when he took over at Oral Roberts University in 1993. He spent four seasons with the Golden Eagles and got better each year. Self's last two ORU teams won a combined total of 39 games.
After that, Self accepted the same position across town at the University of Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane made the NCAA Tournament twice in Self's three seasons. In the third and final season, TU made its first and only "Elite 8" appearance. That was the launchpad for Self's head coaching career.
Nothing's guaranteed, but in the 124 previous games where the 1-seed played the 16-seed, the top-seed has NEVER lost. So barring epic college sports history, the Jayhawks will have a remarkable second round matchup Sunday. <See next>
No. 8 Miami (FL) vs No. 9 Michigan State (9:20 p.m. Friday)
There aren't any notable Tulsa ties to this game. But it features one of the game's all-time great coaches versus one who is responsible for one of the all-time great coaching performances. For MSU, head coach Tom Izzo has led the Spartans to seven NCAA "Final Four" appearances. Being a 9-seed is considered a very "down" year for Michigan State.
For the Miami Hurricanes, head coach Jim Larrañaga has slowly rebuilt this program to be worthy of national respect. But it's what Larrañaga previously did as the head coach at George Mason University that will be long remembered.
In 2006, Larrañaga's 11-seed GMU team made an unprecedented run all the way to the NCAA "Final Four." They upset top-seeded UConn to complete the journey as the worst seed to ever reach the national semifinal.
No. 3 Baylor vs No. 14 New Mexico St (12:40 p.m. Friday)
Baylor is from the Big 12. This is Big 12 country. So there's that.
No. 6 SMU vs No. 11 USC (3:10 p.m. Friday)
Only two Tulsa-area high school basketball players have ever been two-time recipients of the Tulsa's Channel 8 Elite 8 Ford Award. The most recent is Owasso High School graduate Shake Milton.
He's now a sophomore point guard at SMU and has continued to excel at the collegiate level. A lot of college basketball experts have the SMU mustangs as a "sleeper pick" to make a deep run through the NCAA Tournament.
Should that be the case, feel free to brag about how that incredible journey began right here at the BOK Center.