Sparse populations, shallow recruiting pools no deterrent for teams from America's breadbasket

Bill Self was born in Oklahoma, played at Oklahoma State and cut his teeth in coaching at Kansas. Now, he's leading the Jayhawks in pursuit of another national championship.

More than just about anybody else, Self can appreciate the rise of hoops in the heartland.

All three of the Sunflower State's programs are back in the NCAA tournament this year, and all are ninth seeds or better, led by No. 1 seed Wichita State. There are three schools from Oklahoma in the dance. Two from Nebraska. Two more made it from Iowa. Saint Louis is in the field, too.

Not a bad showing from America's breadbasket, those sparsely populated "flyover states" that are supposed to be lean on talent. "It is interesting," Self said of the Midwest representation.