REAL Standings: There's no place like home. . .

This is what I wrote last week in previewing the KU/OSU game

"This is what the season comes down to, regardless of how we got here. Both teams are excited now, will be excited at tip-off, and will come ready to play 40 solid minutes of first class basketball. If either team doesn't, that team will not deserve to be called 'champion.'"

Suffice it to say that both teams came to play 40 solid minutes of first class basketball. Both teams played like champions.

However, barring a complete collapse, the Jayhawks ARE champions of the Big 12 for the fifth time in the league's nine year history. They maintained their 1/2 game lead in the REAL Standings with their projected victory over Okie St. The Cowboys are reduced to pulling for (a) k-state to take KU out on the Jayhawks' Senior/50th Anniversary of AFH Night, or (b) Mizzou to accomplish in its first season in Paige Arena what they could not do with better players in their final year in Hearnes.

A word to the wise: Don't bet the house on either occurrence.

The big loser of the weekend was Iowa State--losing at home to Nebraska to nearly drop off the selection committee's radar screen. Their victories in Austin and Lawrence suddenly seem long ago and far away.

Tech also ran into some trouble in an at-risk game at A&M, getting blown out by the Aggies. Had they won, the Red Raiders would still be in the running for the Big 12 Championship were KU to falter in the next week.

The six deep REAL Big 12 Standings as of February 24, 2005:

1. 12.5-3.5

KU: Projected losses: None

At risk game: at Mizzou Key past games: (L at Tech, L vs. ISU, L at OU, W at ISU, W at NU, W at k-state)

2. 12-4

OSU: Projected losses: None At risk games: None Key past games (L at UT, L at OU, L at NU, L at KU, W at Tech, W at A&M)

3. 11-5

Texas Tech: Projected Losses: None

At risk games: None

Key past games: (L vs. OSU, L at UT, L at ISU, L at OSU, L at A&M, W at k-state, W at MU, W at OU)

4. 10-6

OU: Projected losses: at UT, Tech At risk games: None Key past games (L at ISU, L vs. Tech, L at OSU, L at MU, W at A&M )

5. 9-7

UT: Projected losses: at OSU

At risk games: None

Key past games (L at A&M, L at OU, L at KU, L vs. ISU, L at CU, L at Tech, W at NU)

6. 8.5-7.5

ISU: Projected losses: None

At risk games: at CU

Key past games: (L at MU, L at k-state, L vs. KU, L vs. CU, L at OSU, L at A&M, L vs. NU, W at UT, W at KU, W at NU)

This week's early games, rated on a 5 star scale (all times CST):

Monday:

***** OU at UT (8:00p.m.): OU is still in the running, theoretically, for the conference championship if it wins out and KU drops a game in the coming week. A must win game for UT's NCAA hopes, because their final conference game is in Stillwater. 8-8 is not likely to cut it. And hey-it's OU vs. Texas. Can you say "donnybrook"? I thought you could.

Wednesday:

*1/2 Texas Tech at Baylor (7:00p.m.): Tech is reeling. They should win easily, but Baylor, at home, might make it a little tougher than you expect.

***1/2 k-state at KU (7:00p.m.): Probably not much a game to watch except for KU fans. It is an important game, however, for not only KU, but also OSU and, depending on Monday night's outcome in Austin, OU.

***1/2 Mizzou at Iowa State (7:00p.m.): Huge game for ISU. Huge game for Mizzou, also, if they want to have any momentum going into their season finale vs. KU-not to mention keeping alive their NIT dreams.

***1/2 A&M at Okie St (7:00p.m.): A&M could jump into the NCAA picture with a win in Stillwater. A must win for Okie St to stay alive for the conference championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. Plus, as KU fans well know, three game losing streaks are bad and make players and coaches unhappy, and fans surly.

*1/2 Colorado at Nebraska (7:05p.m.): NU is suddenly playing good basketball-or are they merely the ISU of the week? This game could have all the atmosphere of a tournament game. The National Invitational Tournament.

Until Thursday.

--Mark

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