Before the NCAA Tournament started, Texas Tech coach Pat Knight was singing the praises of Baylor and Kansas State.
Now the whole world knows why.
Baylor and Kansas State are the lone survivors of the seven Big 12 teams that qualified for this year's NCAA Tournament. Both the Bears and Wildcats will play in the Sweet 16 this weekend, and Knight said don't sleep on the fact they both could conceivably make it to the Final Four.
"I told everybody that _ my buddies that were doing office pools _ because everyone's been talking about Kansas,'' Knight said Sunday night. "I said the sleepers are Kansas State and Baylor, because they've got the same weapons inside and out.
"I think they both have a shot at making it to the Final Four, and I've been telling everybody that.''
Kansas State will face Xavier at 8:37 p.m. Thursday in Salt Lake City in the West Regional semifinals, while Baylor meets St. Mary's at 6:27 p.m. in Houston's Reliant Stadium on Friday in the South Regional semifinals.
During the regular season, Tech was blown out by both Baylor and K-State, so Knight's had a up-close view of both teams. The Bears clocked the Raiders (88-70) in Waco and again in Lubbock (86-68), while K-State dumped the Raiders in Lubbock (83-64).
In analyzing both teams, Knight said: "I think Kansas State and Baylor both have inside-outside threats, so now you've got to pick your poison trying to stop one of the other. And then they've got big guys that come off the bench.
"And I think that's the key when you have big guys that can come off the bench, because your bigs are the ones that get in foul trouble or get worn out. The guards can go all day.''
Like the majority of the free world, Knight also thought top-ranked Kansas would at least advance to the Sweet 16. "But,'' Knight said, "that's not going to happen.''
Knight said it's not uncommon for him or other coaches to root for teams in their conference to extend their seasons once the postseason begins.
"I'm not one of those guys that say I'm going to root against you guys,'' Knight said. "Yeah, I want to beat them when I play them, but I want our league to look good.
"I really like our two teams.''
_ Dwain Price