Some interesting Big 12-related tidbits from ESPN’s men’s college basketball media conference call just a few minutes ago that featured Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas:
- Bilas considers Marquette “a Final Four threat,” adding that when you have quality guards like MU does, you always have a shot. Why this matters, of course, is that K-State supposedly handled Marquette in Milwaukee during a closed-door scrimmage.
- Both Bilas and Phelps believe Oklahoma has a chance to surprise people. Bilas loves freshman Blake Griffin, saying the forward is “going to be an impact player in the league.”
- Kansas is the class of the league, both men insisted. But they didn’t have a clue how it would shake out from second to fifth, which, incidentally, is the number of teams Phelps believes will advance to the NCAA Tournament out of the Big 12.
- Here’s an intriguing idea Bilas tossed out. Since the NCAA now owns the NIT, he said why not make it a pre-season tournament that would kick off the season in style? He proposed 16 teams, but his point was that virtually no one realized that Memphis opened the season last night. With the NIT played at the beginning of the season, it would capture the nation’s attention. Plus, he said some team could become the first to win both tournaments in the same year since City College of New York turned the trick in 1950.
- Phelps, who said he’d had an “Irish wake” last week after Notre Dame lost to Navy in football, is excited about seeing the Cats in Madison Square Garden against his Fighting Irish Dec. 4. “The Irish should be much improved, should be a big test for Mike Brey and Co., an interesting basketball game because when you look at Bill Walker and Mike Beasley, you’re talking about two great basketball players, so I’m really anxious to see them play. I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people. … They have a good, solid team.”
- “College Gameday” will be live in Lawrence March 1 for the KU-KSU game, a game Phelps said might decide the regular season title.