REAL Standings: The "Does Rick Barnes Suck?" Edition

I have had to defend Ted Owens many times throughout the years from those who have claimed that he was a bad basketball coach. Which might seem strange coming from the first person I am aware of to publicly call for his replacement (i.e., in the University Daily Kansan circa 1977). You see, KU was running a campaign that year claiming that KU was “The Basketball School.” This was, historically accurate, but the results on the court had not been keeping pace with that assertion. If KU was “The Basketball School,” no one outside of Kansas was aware of it.

But it was not because Owens, who I had met and thought a great deal of as a person, was a bad coach. He had won Big 8 titles. He had been to two Final Fours. He was as good as any other coach in the Big 8, which included a solid stable of coaches during his tenure that included Norm Stewart, Joe Cipriano at Nebraska, Sox Walseth at Colorado, John Macleod at Oklahoma, and Jack Hartman at K-State.

Well, okay. Maybe not as good as Hartman.

But Owens was a good coach. Just not a great coach befitting a program at the self-proclaimed The Basketball School. Not like, say, a Larry Brown, Roy Williams, or Bill Self, whose off years are the envy of 95% of the Not Basketball Schools.

I mention this because Rick Barnes gets the same rap as Owens:that he is a bad coach. Well, he’s not, REALly. He has won three Big 12 championships and been to a Final Four at what is definitely not a Basketball School.

But, like Ted, he is not a great coach. He is not an elite coach. If he were, a team with two high school McDonald’s AA big men (Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner), and two other players now playing at or near that caliber (Jonathan Holmes and Isaiah Taylor), plus a seemingly solid group of role players, would not be 3-5 in the newspaper standings or 9.5-8.5 9n the REAL Standings and mired in 6th place. If, that is, they still qualify as a Tier One team after their debacle in Waco Saturday night. I mean, come on. The Road is hard. But not THAT hard.

Bill Self would have a team with UT’s talent atop the REAL Standings. But it is no disgrace to not be Bill Self. Other than Coach K, who is?

Fortunately, UT’s loss at Baylor, being a projected Loss, cost them nothing in the REAL Standings. In other games that had no REAL effect on the conference race, KU, Iowa St, and West Virginia, all won at Home, as projected, vs. K-State, TCU, and Texas Tech, respectively.

The only game that resulted in any change in the REAL Standings, which is inevitable in all At-risk games, was Oklahoma taking down Okie St in Stillwater.

As a result:

1. Texas is on notice that, despite being the consensus pre-season favorite to wrest the Big 12 title away from Bill Self, one non-projected loss will result in being demoted to Tier Two with non-luminarias TCU, K-State, and Okie St.

2. Oklahoma is in second place, two games behind KU and a half-game ahead of Iowa St and West Virginia. However, the latter two are, in REALity, better positioned to catch the Jayhawks. Both can pick up 2 of the 2.5 games they trail KU by with a win in Lawrence. OU can’t, having already lost in Lawrence.

The downside for the Cyclones and Mountaineers? They have to win in Lawrence.

3. The Big 12, obviously, still goes through Lawrence. Unless somebody, anybody, beats the Jayhawks in Lawrence, fuhgeddaboutit.

Current Tiers

Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU

Tier 3: Texas Tech

REAL Standings:

1. 14-4

KU (7-1) Projected Losses: at WVU, at OU At risk games: at OSU, at KSU

2. 12-6

Oklahoma (5-4) Projected Losses: at ISU At risk games: at TCU, at KSU

3. 11.5-6.5

Iowa St: (6-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU

West Virginia (6-2) Projected Losses: at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at OSU

5. 10-8

Baylor (4-4) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: N/A

6. 9.5-8.5

Texas (3-5) Projected Losses: at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at KSU

7. 7.5-10.5

K-State (5-4) Projected Losses: at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU

8. 7-11

Okie St (4-5) Projected Losses: at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech

9. 5-13

TCU (1-7) Projected Losses: at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: OU, ISU

10. 2-16

Texas Tech (1-8) Projected Losses: at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: KSU, OSU

BIG 12 SCHEDULE

Monday

1. Iowa St at KU (8:00pm)****(Projected W:KU)

Can the team with the most ignominious Loss of the year come away with the best Win? Ten other Big 12 teams hope so. Will KU get back on D this time?

Tuesday

2. West Virginia at Oklahoma (7:00pm)**** (Projected W: OU)

The Mountaineers are tough to figure. Good enough to take out K-State on the Road. Bad enough to lose to Iowa St and TCU at Home (unless you count fluking out a W on the scoreboard vs. the Horned Frogs). No way they should beat OU in Norman. But if they do, they are in and the Sooners are out.

Wednesday

3. Okie St at Texas (7:00pm)***(Projected W: Okie St)

Playing Texas is good for what ails ya, it seems. It was in Stillwater for Okie St, as well as every Tier One team not called West Virginia. Of course, this time, the game is in Austin, and Okie St resides in Tier 2. But then, so might Texas after this game.

4. TCU at Baylor (7:30pm). ** *(Projected W: BU)

TCU’s basketball team attempts to do what its football brethren couldn’t, which might have cost it a National Championship: Win in Waco. Although, this time, Baylor is actually better.

5. K-State at Texas Tech (8:00pm) ** (At-risk game)

K-State can’t afford to lose in Lubbock if it wants to retain even a sliver of a hope of participating in March Madness.

--Mark

REAL Standings: No. 11 stakes its claim to No. 11

The punditocracy has spoken. The overwhelming consensus prior to the start of the Big 12 season was that KU was going down--as in they would be looking up at the champion for the first time since 2004--rather than sideways or down at everyday else.

And the team most mentioned as the Jayhawks’ likely successor?

Texas. And why not? They had the momentum from a strong league campaign last year, their top 30 or 40 players were returning, and the addition of the second best freshman big man in the conference, gave UT something KU was lacking for the first time in years: an eraser in the lane.

After Saturday’s action, the Big 12 title is, suddenly, KU’s to lose. And this is a team whose personality is that it does not like losing. Further, it is a team that has, somehow, quickly, made the transformation from young team with beaucoup talent to team of tough, mature competitors with beaucoup talent.

As for Texas: Rick Barnes’ team is on life support in the ICU.

In other games: K-State won at Home, as projected, vs. Okie St; West Virginia won (ho-hum) at Home as projected, vs. TCU; and Baylor won at Home, as projected, vs. Oklahoma.

Oh, and KU’s former co-leader, Iowa St, lost, not as projected, at Texas Tech.

As a result:

1. There are only two teams in the conference without a blemish (defined as either a Loss at Home or on the Road to a team two tiers lower). Both reside in Kansas. One resides in Tier One.

The other, K-State, is lobbying hard for a position in Tier One, what with a W at Oklahoma and no Home losses. However, impressive as the win in Norman was, it was only one game. It merited a battlefield promotion from Tier 3 to 2. They need another big, un-projected win to stake a claim to Contender status. Winning a game they were projected to win (Okie St at Home) won’t get them there.

2. As noted in the last REAL Standings Report, “Lubbock is where Championships can be lost.” Iowa St’s championship dreams are not entirely lost, despite its loss to Tech, because (a) it won at West Virginia, washing away the stench of its defeat on the High Plains, and (b) the Cycones still get a shot at KU in Lawrence. But more about that next time.

3. The Big 12 still goes through Lawrence. The Jayhawks are not merely the most talented team in the league, they might be the best competitors. If this is truly the case, to paraphrase Billy Packer: “This race is ovah.” Okay, it isn’t. Every Road game the rest of the way is loseable. Teams as good or better than this one have lost in Lubbock or Fort Worth.

Current Tiers

Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU

Tier 3: Texas Tech

REAL Standings:

1. 13.5-4.5

KU (5-1) Projected Losses: at WVU, at OU At risk games: at TCU, at OSU, at KSU

2. 11.5-6.5

Iowa St: (4-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU

Oklahoma (3-4) Projected Losses: at ISU At risk games: at OSU, at TCU, at KSU

4. 11-7

West Virginia (4-2) Projected Losses: at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

5. 10.5-7.5

Baylor (3-3) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: at OSU

6. 9.5-8.5

Texas (3-3) Projected Losses: at ISU, at BU, at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at KSU

7. 8-10

K-State (5-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: WVU, at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU

8. 7-11

Okie St (3-4) Projected Losses: at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: BU, OU, KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech

9. 5.5-12.5

TCU (1-5) Projected Losses: at ISU, at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: KU, OU, ISU

10. 2-16

Texas Tech (1-6) Projected Losses: at OU, at WVU, at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: KSU, OSU

BIG 12 SCHEDULE

Monday

1. Texas at Iowa State (8:00pm)*****(Projected W: ISU)

Texas HAS to pick up a couple of Road wins vs. Contenders to re-enter the league title discussion. Iowa State MUST protect its Home court from here on out with KU having two Road wins on the plus side of its ledger. Not yet halfway through the season, this has the feel of one of those March elimination games.

Tuesday

2. West Virginia at K-State (6:00pm)**** (At-risk game)

Huggy Bear returns to the scene of the crime. You might call it Manhattan: CSI. A loss here, and the Mountaineers , who spent the last week losing big in Austin and fluking by TCU in Morgantown, might be in need of a body bag.

3. Baylor at Okie St (8:00pm). ****1/2 (At-risk game)

Forget Okie St. They aren’t going anywhere. A Tier 2 team they are, and a Tier 2 team they will stay. As for Baylor, they have a Home loss (to KU) and a loss in an at-risk game (at K-State). Another loss here, and they will be in the same position as if they had lost two Home games.

Wednesday

4. Texas Tech at Oklahoma (6:30pm) * (Projected W: OU)

The premise of the REAL Standings is that it’s a Hard Knock Life on the Road. And, unfortunately for Tech, the sun is not likely to come out for it Wednesday in Norman.

5. KU at TCU (8:00pm)**** (At-risk game)

Speaking of the scene of the crime, Fort Worth is the site of a Day that Will Live in Infamy.

Putting that forgettable moment aside, this game serves as another major hurdle in KU’s quest for No. 11. As mentioned earlier, the Jayhawks are showing a surprising level of maturity for such a young team. However, there are different types of maturity. There is the kind that it takes to keep your poise in a big game against teams with comparable talent, such as Iowa St, Oklahoma, and Texas. It is easy to remain focused in those contests, because it is necessary to focus. More than that, it is essential to focus.

In games like TCU, where the talent and reputation of the opponent are lacking, better and more experienced KU teams than this one have gone Ray Benson and walked away from a Lubbock or a Fort Worth with a capital L behind their name.

On the other hand, this game will be played at a high school venue, which should make KU’s High School All-Americans feel right at Home.

If the Jayhawks prevail in this one, they will then have to demonstrate their maturity as a front runner.

And after that. . .

--Mark

REAL Standings: The No Place Like the Big 12 Edition

There is more and more talk nationally among the talking heads about the Big 12 being the toughest conference in all the land. Whether it is or not, it just might be the toughest conference on Road teams not visiting Texas Tech or TCU, who, between them have exactly zero Home conference Wins.

Which is why Iowa State and KU remain tied atop the REAL Big 12 Standings (and, strictly coincidentally, the newspaper standings). Both have a Road Win vs. a Contender and no Home losses.

The midweek games followed the REAL Standings script. KU won at Home as projected, although Oklahoma made the Jayhawks use every iota of the Phog Phactor to do it. Iowa State won at Home as projected, although K-State made the Cyclones summon every iota of Hilton Magic to do it.

Okie St had zero problem at Home vs. Texas Tech.

The only Home loser was TCU in an at-risk game vs. Texas.

As a result:

1. The only team that made any REAL progress was Texas, picking up half a game by defeating a Tier Two team on the Road. That is, if TCU REALly is a Tier Two caliber team. Until they beat someone other than Tech, somewhere, who REALly knows? The bottom line is that the half game UT picked up is only REAL if TCU beats some Tier One team somewhere. The guess here is that someone goes down in Fort Worth. Let’s just hope it is not KU.

2. The Big 12 still goes through Lawrence. With four minutes remaining Monday night, it looked like there might be a detour through Ames or Norman. But as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend!”

Current Tiers

Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU

Tier 3: Texas Tech

REAL Standings:

1. 12.5-5.5

Iowa St: (3-1) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU

KU (4-1) Projected Losses: at UT, at WVU, at OU At risk games: at TCU, at OSU, at KSU

3. 11.5-6.5

Oklahoma (3-3) Projected Losses: at BU, at ISU At risk games: at OSU, at TCU, at KSU

4. 11-7

West Virginia (3-2) Projected Losses: at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

5. 10.5-7.5

Baylor (2-3) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: at OSU

Texas (3-2) Projected Losses: at ISU, at BU, at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at KSU

7. 8-10

K-State (4-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: WVU, at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU

8. 7-11

Okie St (3-3) Projected Losses: at KSU, at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: BU, OU, KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech

9. 5.5-12.5

TCU (1-4) Projected Losses: at WVU, at ISU, at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: KU, OU, ISU

10. 1-17

Texas Tech (0-6) Projected Losses: ISU, at OU, at WVU, at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: KSU, OSU

BIG 12 SCHEDULE

Saturday

1. Okie St at K-State (11:00am)***(Projected W: K-State)

K-State came close Tuesday night to injecting itself into the Tier One and March Madness discussion. Maybe even moving into first place in the REAL world, what with two Tier One Road victories and zero Home losses. Instead, four days later, they face a Must Win situation. Will it prove to be the Octagon of Doom or Gloom?

2. TCU at West Virginia (1:00pm)*1/2 (Projected W: WVU)

TCU is not beating a good team on the Road. Fortunately, there is another game being played at the same time. Namely:

3. KU at Texas (1:00pm). ***** (Projected W: UT)

KU has more sheer talent and a better coach. UT has more experience and the Home court. This is the type of game that can separate the Jayhawks from the rest of the field if they can somehow get out of Austin with a W. This is why the premise of the REAL Standings is that Championships are won on the Road.

4. Iowa St at Texas Tech (3:00pm) * (Projected W: ISU)

Lubbock is where Championships can be lost. Surely, Tubby will surprise somebody in front of the Home crowd. If you call 250 spectators a crowd.

5. Oklahoma at Baylor (5:00pm)**** (Projected W: BU)

The Sooners are running out of time to gain ground by beating a Contender on the Road. Their win in Game No. 1 at Texas disappeared into the Mystic when K-State came to town. After falling short in Lawrence, OU’s only remaining opportunities for staking its claim to the Big 12 Title are this game and at Iowa St. In other words, an early must Win game for OU. AND, already having lost at Home (to KU), for Baylor.

--Mark

REAL Standings: The Football is so 2014 for TCU Edition

Two teams made statements Saturday. TCU conformed that it is a legitimate Tier 2 team. At least, that is, if Texas Tech REALly belongs inTier 3. The Horned Frogs beat Tech in Lubbock almost as badly as its football team did.

Okay, not quite. The score Saturday was 62-42. The football game was 82-27. But that was a Home game for TCU, so there’s that.

K-State also solidified its status as a Tier Two team and even cracked open the door for the discussion as to whether it is a Tier 1 team.

Not REALly. Even though they currently sit atop the misleading newspaper standings, they still have work to do to prove they are worthy of their second battlefield promotion of the season.

Otherwise, it was an uneventful day. Texas won at Home over West Virginia, as projected.

Oklahoma won at Home over Okie St, as projected.

Iowa St won at Home over KU, as projected.

The humorous thing was hearing Jay Bilas make the Reid-iculous type of statement that Iowa St had accomplished something meaningful by winning a Home game—let alone one on Gameday--that was in doubt with 12 seconds remaining.

Come on, Jay. You’re better than that.

As a result:

1. The only important REAL Standings movement was Baylor blowing another big lead, but losing this time and dropping ½ game to the other Tier One teams.

2. The Big 12 still goes through Lawrence. And, after the young’uns got a taste of extreme animosity and adversity and had the intestinal fortitude to, nevertheless, hang around to the bitter end., the Road just got steeper for everyone else.

Current Tiers

Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU

Tier 3: Texas Tech

REAL Standings:

1. 12.5-5.5

Iowa St: (3-1) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU

KU (3-1) Projected Losses: at UT, at WVU, at OU At risk games: at TCU, at OSU, at KSU

3. 11.5-6.5

Oklahoma (3-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at BU, at ISU At risk games: at OSU, at TCU, at KSU

4. 11-7

West Virginia (3-2) Projected Losses: at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

5. 10.5-7.5

Baylor (2-3) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: at OSU

6. 10-8

Texas (2-2) Projected Losses: at ISU, at BU, at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at TCU, at KSU

7. 8-10

K-State (4-1) Projected Losses: at ISU, at KU, at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: WVU, at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU

8. 7-11

Okie St (2-3) Projected Losses: at KSU, at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: BU, OU, KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech

9. 6-12

TCU (1-3) Projected Losses: at WVU, at ISU, at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: at UT, KU, OU, ISU

10. 1-17

Texas Tech (0-5) Projected Losses: at OSU, ISU, at OU, at WVU, at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: KSU, OSU

BIG 12 SCHEDULE

Monday

1. Texas at TCU (6:00pm)***(At-risk game)

TCU played Texas tough at Home last year. The Horned Frogs are better this year. Texas might or might not be. This could be an interesting Big Monday Opening Act.

2. Oklahoma at KU (8:00pm)**** (Projected W: KU)

The Jayhawks need a good start in this one. The Sooners have shown that they are tough with an early lead.

Tuesday

3. K-State at Iowa St (6:00pm). ***1/2 (Projected W: ISU)

Can K-State make the jump from one time Tier 3 Bottom Feeder all the way to Tier One Contender? Probably not. But here is their chance. ‘Twould be hard to argue with two Road victories versus Tier One tems.

Wednesday

4. Huston-Tillotson at Baylor (7:00pm) (Projected Winner: Is there a Winner in a game like this?)

I live 15 minutes from the Huston-Tillotson campus and was not aware they had a basketball team. My guess is that HTU vs. University of Southern New Hampshire would be a pick.

Insert Scott Drew joke here.

5. Texas Tech at Okie St (8:00pm)* (Projected W: OSU)

Can Tech REALly go 0-18?

--Mark

REAL Standings: Same as it ever was edition

What was the point? Four games played. Four projected winners win. KU at Home over Okie St? Check.

West Virginia at Home over Oklahoma? Check.

K-State at Home over Tech? Check.

Baylor at Home over Iowa St? Check.

Iowa St almost took a huge step toward its first conference championship under Mayor Freddy. Tech almost claimed its first conference win of 2015.

The key word in both cases being, of course, “almost.” Which means “didn’t do it.”

As a result:

1. The REAL Standings remain entirely unchanged. Eight teams simply moved one game closer to their destiny.

2. The Big 12 still goes through Lawrence.

Current Tiers

Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU

Tier 3: Texas Tech

REAL Standings:

1. 12.5-5.5

Iowa St: (2-1) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU

KU (3-0) Projected Losses: at ISU, at UT, at WVU, at OU At risk games: at TCU, at OSU, at KSU

3. 11-7

West Virginia (3-1) Projected Losses: at UT, at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

4. 11.5-6.5

Oklahoma (2-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at BU, at ISU At risk games: at OSU, at TCU, at KSU

5. 11-7

Baylor (2-2) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

6. 10-8

Texas (1-2) Projected Losses: at ISU, at BU, at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at TCU, at KSU

7. 7-11

Okie St (2-2) Projected Losses: at OU, at KSU, at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: BU, OU, KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech

8. 7.5-10.5

K-State (2-1) Projected Losses: at ISU, at KU, at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: BU, WVU, at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU

9. 5.5-12.5

TCU (0-3) Projected Losses: at WVU, at ISU, at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: at Tech, at UT, KU, OU, ISU

10. 1.5-16.5

Texas Tech (0-4) Projected Losses: at OSU, ISU, at OU, at WVU, at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: TCU, KSU, OSU

BIG 12 SCHEDULE

Saturday

1. Baylor at K-State (2:00pm)**** (at risk game)

A fight for relevance.

2. TCU at Texas Tech (3:00pm)*1/2 (at-risk game)

Someone leaves the W-less column.

3. West Virginia at Texas (5:15pm). **** (Projected W: UT)

Remember the Alamo! Another Home loss for Texas, and they will be reduced to remembering when virtually every pundit was picking them to end KU’s decade long stranglehold on the Big 12 title.

Shouldn’t happen in Austin.

4. Oklahoma St at Oklahoma (6:00pm) **** (at-risk game)

Bedlam, indeed. Another Home loss to a Tier Two team, and you just call the Sooners’ coach Lon o’ Bedlam.

5. KU at Iowa St (8:00pm)***** (Projected W: ISU)

Did someone say “motivation”?

This is the game circled in red every year on every Cyclone fan’s calendar.

Hilton Magic.

Game Day.

Wednesday night loss to Baylor.

How can anyone even think KU has a chance?

For some reason, the Jayhawks will show up.

--Mark

REAL Standings: The "Oh the Humanity" edition

Stealing from the lead in the Kansas City Star’s story this morning about K-State at Oklahoma: “This changes everything.”

Indeed. I do not recall a Big 12 season in which four contenders have lost at Home so early. We have OU over Texas in Austin, K-State over OU in Norman, KU over Baylor in Waco, and Iowa St over West Virginia in Morgantown. And at least three of these losses are by serious Contenders who should be around in late February. (I will leave it to your expertise to determine which one might ultimately prove to be a Paper Bear.)

Off the top of my head, I seem to recall years where the top Contenders have not lost four Home games between them during an entire season.

The upshot of all this is that:

1. Texas and West Virginia have dug themselves serious holes. Both now are in need of a Road win vs. a Contender to negate their Home losses.

2. Texas needs to stop digging NOW, having also lost an at-risk game at Okie St. The analyst at that game, displaying some understanding of the REAL Standings principles, accurately acknowledged that UT’s second loss this early in the season was not fatal, because it was on the Road . He also correctly noted that the game was more important to Okie St, because they could not afford to lose at Home. Still, with a loss in Austin and in an at-risk game, UT probably has to win multiple Road games vs. other Contenders. In other words, they are behind the proverbial 8-ball. And not the Magic One. It Is Certain.

3. West Virginia’s position is not quite as bad as Texas’s. They can still get back to Point Zero with one Big Road W and by taking care of business in their at-risk games.

4. OU has fallen back to where UT and WVU are now struggling to be: Point Zero.

5. Although Iowa St and KU are tied in the REAL Standings, ISU has a slight edge, because: 6. Baylor (KU’s Road Win) is hanging on for dear life to Contender status. Their win in overtime at TCU keeps them from falling to Tier 2 for the time being, but they have not inspired confidence in the premise that they are on the same level as KU, ISU, WVU, and Oklahoma—either personnel-wise or in execution. Can’t demote them after a Road Win, though. Any Road Win.

7. With its victory in Norman, K-State earned a battlefield promotion to Tier 2. In REALity, they never were a 2-16 type of team. It is just that they had been inventing ways to lose. This Saturday, they found a way to win in overtime.

8. Not to plagiarize anyone in particular, because this thought belongs in the public domain by now: The Big 12 still goes through Lawrence.

Current Tiers

Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU

Tier 3: Texas Tech

REAL Standings:

1. 12.5-5.5

Iowa St: (2-0) Projected Losses: at BU, at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU

KU (2-0) Projected Losses: at ISU, at UT, at WVU, at OU At risk games: at TCU, at OSU, at KSU

2. 11-7

West Virginia (2-1) Projected Losses: at UT, at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

3. 11.5-6.5

Oklahoma (2-1) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at BU, at ISU At risk games: at OSU, at TCU, at KSU

4. 11-7

Baylor (1-2) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: at KSU, at OSU

5. 10-8

Texas (1-2) Projected Losses: at ISU, at BU, at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at TCU, at KSU

7. 7-11

Okie St (2-1) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at KSU, at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: BU, OU, KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech

8. 7.5-10.5

K-State (1-1) Projected Losses: at ISU, at KU, at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: BU, WVU, at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU

9. 5.5-12.5

TCU (0-3) Projected Losses: at WVU, at ISU, at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: at Tech, at UT, KU, OU, ISU

10. 1.5-16.5

Texas Tech (0-3) Projected Losses: at KSU, at OSU, ISU, at OU, at WVU, at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: TCU, KSU, OSU

BIG 12 SCHEDULE Tuesday (Not Monday due to V coverage of some lesser event)

1. Okie St at KU (6:00pm)**** (Projected W: KU)

The analyst in the Okie St/UT game Saturday declared that the Cowboys were a Contender. I don’t think they have enough talent at enough positions to justify that status over an 18 game schedule.

On the other hand, if they want to be taken seriously as a Contender, here is their chance.

2. Oklahoma at West Virginia (6:00pm)**** (Projected W: WVU)

Two teams fresh off devastating Home losses. Another one here for the Mountaineers, and this just might turn into a “once promising season.”

Wednesday

3. Texas Tech at K-State (7:00pm). *1/2 (Projected W: K-State)

K-State could not possibly beat OU in Norman, then turn around and lose to Texas Tech in Manhattan. Could they?

4. Iowa St at West Virginia (8:00pm) ***** (Projected W: BU)

Like West Virginia, Baylor cannot afford a second Home loss. Not if they want to remain in Tier 1. They are on a shorter leash than the Mountaineers.

--Mark

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