By Lorenzo Tanos
The Big Eight was one of the most powerful NCAA Division I basketball conferences for several decades before adding four new members in 1996 and becoming the Big 12. This week, we shall be spotlighting the history of both conferences and perhaps moving on to the SEC next week, which should be another two-part series.
1. True or False – The Big 12 currently has twelve teams.
False. When Colorado and Nebraska joined the Pac-12 and Big Ten respectively for the 2011-12 season, the Big 12 actually fielded less than 12 teams in men’s basketball. Following the defections of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC for 2012-13, TCU and West Virginia will be joining the Big 12, thus maintaining the current number of ten teams.
2. How many years did Wilt Chamberlain play for the University of Kansas Jayhawks varsity?
Two. As freshmen weren’t allowed to play in NCAA sports back then, The Big Dipper only saw action for the Jayhawks in his sophomore and junior years. He left school prior to his senior year and saw action for the Harlem Globetrotters while awaiting NBA Draft eligibility.
3. Which Big Twelve school was named America’s Best Sports College by Sports Illustrated in 2002?
The University of Texas.Owing to the Longhorns’ success in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball in the 2001-02 seasons, Texas beat out Stanford, Oklahoma, Florida and South Carolina in the publication’s 2002 study of top sporting schools.
4. This Oklahoma Sooners standout was drafted both in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft and the 33rd round of the 1996 MLB Draft. The highlight of his brief MLB career was replacing Cal Ripken Jr. right after the latter’s consecutive games streak ended.
Ryan Minor could’ve had a productive career in either the NBA or Major League Baseball; he opted for the latter sport, though one wouldn’t call his pro career a success. In four MLB seasons, he accumulated career stats of 5 home runs, 27 RBIs and a .177 batting average.
5. Which Nebraska Cornhuskers coach set the school record for most career wins in his last, and least successful season?
Tough-as-nails head coach Danny Nee ran a very successful Cornhuskers basketball program from 1986 to 2000, coaching several would-be NBA players such as guards TyronnLue and Erick Strickland. However, in the year where he won his 254th game (1999-2000, passing Joe Cipriano’s record), Nee also tied a record for most losses in a season in Nebraska basketball history by going 11-19.
6. Where did Triangle Offense inventor Tex Winter coach in the Big 8?
Winter was head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats from 1953 to 1968, compiling a record of 261-118. His marquee player in the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons was future NBA first-overall selection “Bullet” Bob Boozer.
7. Which former Big Eight members are now playing basketball at the NCAA Division III level?
This would be a tough one, because both teams had seceded from the Big Eight in 1928, over eight decades ago. The Grinnell Pioneers and the Washington (St. Louis) Bears have enjoyed some recent success playing Division III ball. Griffin Lentsch of the Pioneers made the news late last year when he scored a Division III record 89 points in a game, beating the 13-year-old record of yet another Pioneer, Jeff Clement (77 points in 1998).
8. Which Texas Tech Red Raider was described by Bob Knight as the “best player he had (ever) coached”?
Andre Emmett graduated from Texas Tech as the school’s career scoring leader with 2,256 points, and went on to be drafted in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft. After a six-year absence from the league, Emmett returned in 2011-12 to play for the New Jersey Nets. He is currently playing for the Lebanese Basketball League’s Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut.
9. This Missouri Tigers forward/center was deemed ineligible for accepting benefits from boosters, thus leading to the Tigers forfeiting their 1994 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight status.
When JevonCrudup was found to have accepted a trip to Las Vegas, among other gifts from a Tigers booster, Missouri’s Elite Eight appearance in 1994 was vacated. Crudup was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Pistons in 1994, but never played in the NBA.
10. Why did Fred Hoiberg receive the nickname “The Mayor” as an Iowa State player?
Hoiberg was so popular during his stint with the Iowa State Cyclones that he received a good number of write-in votes in the mayoral elections for Ames, IA in 1993. The former Iowa Mr. Basketball in high school and ten-year NBA veteran (as a three-point specialist) is presently the Cyclones’ head coach.
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