OU, while having already been written off as a contender for the Big 12 crown because of its remaining schedule, still was theoretically alive if they could run the table while OSU and KU both hit unexpected snags. After today's loss in Columbia, to the stumbling and bumbling boys of Quin, they are not even theoretically alive--at least to any greater extent than Mizzou is alive for this year's Final Four. Texas Tech finds itself in a comparable position after being subjected to Hilton and its fabled Magic. True, Tech has a two game advantage over OU in the REAL Standings, but is the same impossible distance from a title. It's like, would you rather be stranded on a raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific? In theory, you have a better chance of being spotted and rescued in the Atlantic, being the smaller ocean. In reality, you are still stranded in the middle of an ocean.
To probably no one's surprise, the two teams that were expected to fight for the championship from the word "go" are the two teams who still a enjoy a cognizable chance of grabbing the No. 1 seed in the money-grubbing farce the Big 12 calls its post-season tournament.
While KU took care of business with its projected victory over Colorado in Lawrence, Okie St went on the road and matched the Jayhawks' midweek victory in Manhattan, leaving the two teams exactly where they were this time last week vis a vis each other: A single game separating the two, on a collision course two Sundays from now.
The REAL concern for Okie St is that KU appears to be hitting its stride, and have two chances to pull away from the Cowboys: at Tech (where OSU has already won) Monday night, and in Norman (where OSU has already lost) the following Monday. If the Hawks turn both of those projected L's into W's, Okie St will likely be on life support when they visit Lawrence. On the other hand, if the Hawks drop either or both of those games, the KU/OSU Showdown will have not only conference, but serious national implications.
The REAL Big 12 Standings as of Valentine's Day 2005:
KU: Projected losses: at OU, Tech At risk game: at Mizzou Key past games: (W at ISU, W at NU, W at k-state)
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)
Texas Tech: Projected losses: None At risk game: at A&M Key past games: (L vs. OSU, L at UT, L at OSU, L at ISU, W at k-state, W at MU)
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 week's early games, rated on a 5 star scale (all times CST):
*****KU at Tech (8:00p.m.) Some luster was lost from this game when Iowa State dealt the Red Raiders' title hopes a knockout punch Saturday. Tech will still be desperate to grab a big win and solidify its third place position for post-season purposes. And, with no legitimate chance of winning the Big 12, they can play freer and easier than they might have had they won in Ames. As noted earlier, this game will be even more important for Okie State.
***k-state at Iowa State (7:00p.m.): ISU has come a long way since losing its first five conference games--the last one to k-state. The Cyclones now match their five game winning streak against k-state's four consecutive L's. Can ISU move onto the NCAA bubble? Will k-state right its ship or take another one on the chin in a season somewhat reminiscent of KU's football travails last fall (i.e., in which the team looks better than its record)?
**Baylor at Mizzou (7p.m.): This is the game you've been waiting for. If you're a masochist. Unfortunately, what looked like a Battle to the Death for the Big 12 cellar was spoiled by OU allowing Mizzou to go two games up on Baylor. Even if Baylor now takes out Mizzou, where is the other W coming from?
***1/2 A&M at Texas (7p.m.): Revenge time for UT. Looked like a sure thing a few weeks ago, when the Longhorns were at full strength. After going OT in their last two home games against Iowa State and k-state, why can't A&M come in and sweep the season series? Other than that they have not won a conference road game this season.
**1/2 NU at OU (8p.m.): OU's stock really plummets if it loses this game at home. NU is a competitive team and could make it interesting if its shots are falling. I'm sure there are worse things on the tube Wednesday night.