Sometimes you just have to shake your head. Like when you REALize that someone got paid good American money to write Johnny Depp’s version of the Lone Ranger.
Other times, you feel like pulling your hair out. Such as when a professional journalist begins his game story about Texas’s victory over Baylor by writing:
It’s no longer a ludicrous notion. The Texas men’s basketball team must be considered a threat to win the Big 12 title.
Actually, it is a ludicrous notion. Texas is not a threat to win the Big 12 title. But I can cut the writer, Brian Davis, some slack. He is new on the job, having just taken over as the basketball beat-writer for the Austin American-Statesman .
Who gets no slack is veteran columnist Cedric Golden. Why in the world would someone who is not in his first rodeo say, “Texas will contend for a Big 12 championship.” Yes, he REALly said that.
Let’s examine what Texas has done to promote the idea that it “must be considered a threat to win the Big 12 title,” that it “will contend for a Big 12 championship.” That it can stand toe to toe with KU and Okie St over an 18 game schedule.
Is it their loss at Home to Oklahoma? No: losing a Home game to a Tier 2 team and losing a full game in the REAL Standings in the process, is not usually a prelude to a title. But it can happen.
Losing at Okie St is no badge of weakness. A lot of teams will do that. Maybe every team.
So is it their Home win vs. Tier 3 Texas Tech? Hardly: that does nothing to separates them from other Tier 2 teams.
Their win at West Virginia? That kinda makes up for the OU loss if you consider WVU equivalent to the Sooners. Both are, after all, currently Tier 2 denizens.
Is it their Home win vs. Iowa St? That at-risk game victory, constitutes a half game REAL Standings pickup. Doesn’t hurt, but, as has often noted here through the years, championships are not won at Home.
Is it their last second three point victory at Home over Tier 2 K-State? Or does that detract from their credibility?
Or is it their Road win Saturday at Baylor, a team clinging to Tier 2 status by the skin of its teeth?
These seven games fit the profile of a solid Tier 2 team, one that could find itself fighting for fourth place in the Big 12 in early March—or even third, depending on whether Iowa St is able to solidify its Tier One status.
But a contender for the Big 12 title? With upcoming trips to Manhattan, Ames, Lawrence, and Norman? They will do well to go 1-3 in those games. Or 1-1 in their Home games vs. KU and Okie St. And they better not sleep on Tech in Lubbock or—believe it or not—Baylor in Austin.
This is why UT’s projected record is 10-8. Which their fans should celebrate if it happens.
Can they go 11-7? Or 12-6? Not out of the question. But even 12-6 is not going to contend for the Big 12 title.
In the meantime, what about Baylor, the team Texas beat to instigate the sudden burst of hype?
What, indeed, can you say about Baylor that has not already been said about Justin Bieber?
Remember Happy Gilmore vs. Bob Barker? That’s Baylor.
Recall Carl Lewis vs. the national anthem? That’s Baylor.
How could a team with one of the three best compilations of talent and experience in the Big 12 be on the verge of joining Texas Tech as the two worst teams in the conference not named TCU?
Reminds me of the fellow I ran into last Monday night at the Kansas City airport Holiday Inn Express. He was decked out in green tails, wore a bright green feathered hat right out of the Three Musketeers, and his face was adorned with green bear claws. He was distraught about the fact that he had still never seen Baylor win in Allen Fieldhouse.
That’s what I call a fan. Reminiscent of those who follow KU football through thin and thinner, except for the green.
Well, faithful Baylor fan, your team has bigger problems than not winning at Allen Fieldhouse. They can’t win in Lubbock, for Chrissake. They can’t win at the Ferrell Center against Oklahoma and Texas. Who, other than TCU, are they going to beat? And they have already played TCU at home.
Should Baylor, then, be demoted to Tier 3? Perhaps. But they still have the type of talent that buys them one more game in Tier 2, notwithstanding the fact that they still have that coach.
Remember Turner Gill? Scott Drew is Turner Gill with good players.
In Saturday’s only at risk game, Oklahoma picked up half a game by taking out Tech in Lubbock.
All other action merely perpetuated the status quo: Okie St beating West Virginia at Home as projected; Iowa St holding off K-State at Home as projected; and KU with a hum-ho victory, as projected, at TCU.
THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS TIERS
1. Tier One: Iowa St, KU, Okie St
2. Tier Two: Baylor, K-State, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia
3. Tier Three: TCU, Texas Tech
THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS:
KU (6-0) Projected L’s: at OSU At-risk games: at UT, at Baylor, at KSU, at WVU
Okie St (4-2) Projected L’s: at ISU At-risk games: at OU, at UT, at Baylor
Iowa St (3-3) Projected L’s: at KU, at OSU At Risk Games: at WVU, at K-State, at Baylor
Oklahoma (5-2) Projected L’s: at ISU, at WVU, at OSU, at KU At-risk games: OSU, at TCU
Texas (5-2) Projected L’s: at KSU, at ISU, at KU, at OU At-risk games: KU, at TCU, OSU, at Tech
K-State (4-3) Projected L’s: at WVU, at BU, at OU, at OSU At-risk games: KU, at Tech, ISU
W. Virginia (3-4) Projected L’s: at BU, at KU, at UT, at ISU, at OU At-risk games: ISU, KU
Baylor (1- 5) Projected L’s: at OSU, at OU, at WVU, at UT, at KSU At-risk games: KU, at TCU, OSU, ISU
Texas Tech (2-5) Projected L’s: at KSU, at OSU, at OU, at ISU, KU, at OSU, at BU, at KU At-risk games: KSU, UT
TCU (0-7) Projected L’s: at Tech, at ISU, BU, at KU, at KSU, ISU, OSU, at WVU, at UT At-risk games: UT, BU, OU
All times CST
1. Okie St at Oklahoma (8:00p.m.)* *** (At risk game)
Okie St’s opportunity to match KU’s W in Norman and pull within a game of the Jayhawks in the process. If Marcus Smart throws another fit because his flops again go unrewarded, KU’s Norman conquest will remain golden.
2. West Virginia at Baylor (6:00p.m.) ** (Projected W: Baylor)
If Baylor is going to turn this season around, it must start Tuesday night at Home against the Mountaineers. Drop a third game in Waco against a Tier 2 team, in addition to their Road loss at Tech, and their Tier 2 days are history. But if anyone can turn things around, it isn’t Scott Drew. Players only meeting, anyone?
3. Texas Tech at K-State (7:00p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: KSU)
K-State has comported itself respectably in two close Road losses at Texas and Iowa St. They must use Tech as a slump buster. They cannot afford to waste their energy chasing games they were not likely to win and then let a game they should win get away.
4. Iowa St at KU (8:00p.m.) **** (Projected W: KU)
For whatever reason, the Jayhawks are three point whipping boys at Allen Fieldhouse. Oklahoma St (12/28) and Baylor (13/27) made 25 of 55 last Saturday and Monday at AFH, for 75 points on 55 shots (i.e., 1.36 points per attempt).
Phil Forte (7/10) and Brady Heslip (6/9) scored 39 points on 19 shots (2.1 PPA) in those games.
On their Home courts Saturday, Okie St (4/24) and Baylor (3/17) scored 21 points on 41 shots (.51 PPA).
And Forte and Heslip ? But 3 points on 13 shots (.23 PPA). (1/9 and 0/4 respectively.)
I mention this because Iowa State is the most prolific 3 point shooting team in the Big 12 in conference play. At least in shots attempted (145). Percentage wise they are in 8th place (31.0%), in large part due to going 4/25 vs. the Jayhawks in Ames. Just don’t be surprised if they are 15 for 30 in Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night and the game goes down to the last possession.
BTW: KU has the best 3 point percentage in Big 12 games (40.9%), ahead of second place Tech (38.1%).