As the REAL Standings begin to resemble the newspaper standings ever more, the only REAL development of the week was OU's un-projected victory on the road at UT. The Longhorns committed the rarest of faux pas by not coming ready to play for their seniors on their special night. Or maybe OU has just shifted into another gear, playing with a level of energy, focus, and aggressiveness the Horns had not seen since getting swamped by KU in late January. But this time, they were intimidated at home. With its victory, OU kept alive its dream of sharing the Big 12 title with KU if the Sooners can pull off another un-projected victory in Lubbock Saturday and KU loses in Columbia on Sunday.
The primary difference between the REAL and the newspaper standings at this point is that the REAL Standings show that OSU is in a better position than OU to share the title if KU stumbles on Sunday. Although tied in the newspaper at 11-4, OSU is projected to wind up the season 12-4 on its home court, while OU, on the road against a team that took the Sooners behind the woodshed in Norman, is projected to finish 11-5.
Meanwhile, KU's projected victory vs. k-state (hey, this really was unfair--Senior Night AND Allen Fieldhouse's 50th Anniversary celebration, in addition to a major disparity in talent) makes its final at-risk game of the season one for the outright Big 12 championship, unless both teams from Oklahoma lose Saturday.
The six deep REAL Big 12 Standings as of February 24, 2005:
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)
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)
OU: Projected loss: at Tech At risk games: None Key past games (L at ISU, L vs. Tech, L at OSU, L at MU, W at A&M, W at UT )
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)
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)
UT: Projected loss: 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, L vs. OU, W at NU)
This weekend's games, rated on a 5 star scale (all times CST):
** A&M at Baylor (12:30p.m.): Ever hear of a revenge game vs. Baylor? First, there has to be something to avenge. Well, the Aggies, looking for their second road win of the season, will be trying to wash the last bit of after-taste remaining from being swept by Baylor last year from their palate. The Aggies are just inexperienced enough that Baylor, on its home court, could pull off a shocker--to the extent that it's possible for A&M losing in basketball to be a shocker.
**NU at k-state (12:30p.m.): The Huskers are the team de jour. Still, they barely squeezed by k-state in OT in Lincoln. Should be a competitive game with NIT dreams on the line.
** ISU at Colorado (2p.m.): There are those who contend that Iowa State is in the NCAA tournament courtesy of their victories in Austin and Lawrence and over Texas Tech and OU. I think they are on the bubble as the result of their swoon at A&M and their loss to Nebraska at home. Regardless, being swept by Colorado (whose new motto is "We're not Baylor") will severely damage their post-season hopes and require big time redemption in K.C. next week. Will not be the most aesthetically pleasing game (the two teams were tied at 42 in regulation in Ames), but a big one for the Cyclones, nevertheless.
*****OU at Tech (5p.m.): Is there anyone who doesn't realize that Tech is tough at home? They lost early to Okie St in Lubbock, but that is all. A must win game for OU if it is to retain any hopes of their first Big 12 championship. The loser probably takes home the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 tourney.
****Texas at Okie St (8p.m.): This could be a good old-fashioned whipping by Okie St if UT doesn't recover from the beating it took Monday night at the hands of OU. This is the type of situation that requires teams to grow up or fall apart. If the Horns have any pride, they will at least play as tough as A&M did in Stillwater Wednesday night, and then look to Kansas City for enough victories to crash the Big Dance.
****1/2 KU at Mizzou (1p.m.): Doesn't it always come down to this? For the second time in three years KU travels to Columbia needing a victory to grab the outright Big 12 title. And, of course, there was the 2002 game where the title was wrapped up, but a victory was needed to claim an undefeated conference season. "Why is this an at-risk game?" you ask: Mizzou flat out sucks. It is at-risk because the Tigers are not devoid of talent, they are at home (where they have defeated Gonzaga and OU), and this game--which could be the Mighty Quin's final appearance as head coach in Columbia--gives them a chance to salvage their season. Don't think for a second that they will roll over and simply go away. The KU seniors attempt to become the first class since 1968 to leave KU undefeated in Columbia.
Until Monday, when the REAL and newspaper standings will have merged.