REAL Standings: Dog Bites Man

    Nothing of significance occurred in the first half of the Big 12's weekly schedule.  KU lost as projected at Texas Tech.  OU beat NU as projected in Norman.  Okie State took a few days off.      It is amusing watching those who pay attention to the newspaper standings fret that KU's two game lead over OSU has been reduced to one.  In REALity, the Hawks' lead never was two games.  It was one game before Monday night and simply remained unchanged.  What KU lost Monday night was not half of a two game lead:  what they lost was an opportunity to TAKE a two game lead.        That and the opportunity to prove their mettle with the type of victory that defines a champion:  a road win vs. another contender--or at least a high quality team. The Hawks are still looking for their first conference victory that fits that description.  Their best conference road win at this point is at Iowa State--and that came during ISU's 0-5 debacle-ish  start to the conference season.              The REAL Big 12 Standings as of February 17, 2005:   1. 13.5-2.5   KU: Projected loss: at OU At risk game: at Mizzou Key past games:  (L at Tech, W at ISU, W at NU, W at k-state)   2. 12.5-3.5   OSU: Projected loss at KU At risk game: at NU Key past games (W at Tech, L at UT, L at OU, W at A&M)   3.  11.5-4.5   Texas Tech:  Projected losses:  None At risk game:  at A&M Key past games:  (L vs. OSU, L at UT, L at OU, L at ISU, W at k-state, W at MU)   4. 9.5-6.5   OU: Projected losses: at UT, Tech At risk games: at k-state Key past games (W at A&M, L at ISU, L vs. Tech, L at OSU, L at MU )        This Saturday's games, rated on a 5 star scale (all times CST):   **** Iowa St vs. KU (noon):        Suddenly, ISU is the hottest team in the league, riding a six game winning streak after losing their first five conference games.  They have even won two road games during this span--in Austin and Lincoln.  They will be coming into Lawrence with a lot of swagger, if not arrogance, while the Hawks will be looking to take out their frustration from Monday night on whoever is unfortunate enough to be standing in their path.    ***1/2 OU at k-state (12:30p.m.):  OU trying to stay ahead of UT in the race for the fourth first round bye in K.C.  k-state, meanwhile, is looking to end a five game slide.  They would prefer the task of playing Baylor in Manhattan.  But the fact that this game is in Manhattan is reason to watch.  Especially since k-state is in the same situation ISU was in last Saturday--catching  a team on the weekend that could well be distracted by its upcoming Big Monday home game against the league's flagship program.   **** Tech at Okie St (2:30p.m.):  Why is this not rated 5 stars?  Because it has the potential to be a bust.  The home crowd carried Tech Monday night.  They would have wilted on a number of occasions when KU caught them or took the lead had the team not felt an obligation to its fans to pick itself up by its bootstraps and dig deeper for more competitive fire.  Their fans will be 444 highway miles away this Saturday, and it will be difficult to duplicate the effort they gave five days earlier. Not to mention that OSU will be well rested.  The only thing in Tech's favor is that they have already lost to OSU in Lubbock, giving them the revenge factor as motivation.    **1/2 A&M at Colorado (2p.m.):  A&M, for the thousandth or so time, is improved over last season:  But that says what?  Could they not be?  The long season is catching up to them.  They have not won a conference road game, and, in fact, were blown away by UT by 35 points Wednesday night in Austin.  This could be their breakthrough game if they refocus, as teams often do after being humiliated.  CU is a late bloomer.  They won't let A&M climb up the Big 12 ladder at their expense without a fight.   **Mizzou at Nebraska (8p.m.):  Two teams going nowhere despite MU's two game home winning streak.  If they can take one on the road--anywhere--they could become a team to worry about later in the season.  However, to borrow a line for which the state is famous:  they will have to SHOW ME before I believe it.   ** Texas at Baylor:  (8p.m.):  Texas is adjusting to life after Tucker and Aldridge.  Buckman is looking Collison-esque now that he is out from under the shadow cast by last year's seniors, as well as that of Tucker and Aldridge.   A few more games like the last four, and he is an all-conference performer.  The game might also be worth taking in to watch Daniel Gibson and Aaron Bruce state their claims for Freshman of the Year honors.       Happy viewing if you can't make it to the course.       Until Sunday.

--Mark

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