BIG XII RECAP The home teams lost three game Saturday. And all three losses were to teams that had themselves lost at home earlier in the week. The two teams atop the fight for second place, KU and Mizzou-because of their mid-week wins on the road-fell back to the middle of the secondary pack with their home losses.
What does this unusual activity mean to the REAL Standings?
It means, first, that the teams in the secondary pack are not good enough to count home games as automatic wins. When the league is top-heavy with legitimate contenders for the championship and good NCAA seeds, we might see a total of three home losses by those teams for the season-in which case, the only games that REALly matter are those rare occasions where one contender takes out another on the road. Six home losses in a week mean that the teams we are following should be on Saturday Night Live in a "More Cowbell" skit, because they are not ready for Prime Time.
Does this turn of events minimize the REAL Standings' effectiveness as a tool for understanding a team's true position in the race for whatever?
Maybe, to a small extent. However, regardless of a team's status-whether it is Texas or Baylor-it is still advantageous to have as many home games remaining as possible-and it is still advantageous to have as many of your remaining road games as possible against the conference's lesser lights, as opposed to its better teams.
Because the schedule in front of each team is still important, it will be the team or teams that follow the RS formula from this point forward (winning every game at home, those against the bottom feeder(s) on the road, and some road games vs. their peers) that will break away from the secondary pack and take off the second Thursday in March.
And it will happen. The REAL Standings will identify when one or two teams make their move, regardless of where they reside in the newspaper standings.
At this point, there is virtually no separation between teams 2 through 10. Nebraska and Okie St gingerly share the No. 2 slot as of today, but that is due in part to the fact that NU did not play Saturday, and Okie St didn't have to, being the lucky team that drew-no pun intended-Baylor in its first home game. As an aside, some bozo on TV acted as if Okie St was unfortunate for having to be the Bears' first home game opponent of the season. What's mind-boggling is that he actually gets paid money for making stupid comments.
In anticipation of the next question: Why is k-state not listed in the secondary pack after its historic victory against KU Saturday? First, they still have some accounting to do for being routed at home by Nebraska. Second, it was an historic win. K-state played as if it were the most important game in the history of the program-and they did it against a KU team that hasn't yet learned that the game goes on even when you have a 12 point lead in the second half.
Yes, k-state must be given credit for shooting 67% in the second half when KU inexplicably stopped playing defense. Still, they had to knock down their open shots, and they did. But, with the Nebraska fiasco still on their resume, let's see them win a road game against someone who is not their arch-rival that has embarrassed them 31 straight times before treating them as a team in the hunt for a conference tourney bye and a spot in the Big Dance.
THE REAL STANDINGS
The REAL Standings* as of January 15, 2006, are:
Texas (No projected L's/at risk games: at OU, MU, Texas Tech, Okie St, A&M)
Nebraska (projected L's at KU, CU, OSU, UT, ISU, A&M, MU/at risk games: None)
Okie St (L at Mizzou/projected L's at UT, Tech, A&M, ISU, OU/at risk games: vs. UT, at k-state)
Kansas (L vs. k-state/projected L's at MU, A&M, ISU, NU, Okie St, UT/at risk games: at k-state)
Mizzou (L vs. CU/projected L's at NU, Tech, KU, CU, ISU/at risk games: at k-state, vs. UT, at Baylor)
Colorado (L's at UT, vs. KU/projected L's at Okie St, ISU, A&M, NU, KU/at risk games: at k-state)
A&M (L's vs. OU, at OSU/projected L's at ISU, OU, UT, MU, Tech/at risk games: at k-state, Baylor)
Iowa St (L's vs. UT, at Tech/projected L's at NU, MU, KU, OU, CU/at risk games: at k-state, Baylor)
Texas Tech (8-8) (L at A&M/projected L's at UT, OU, KU, CU, NU, Okie St/at risk games: vs. UT, at Baylor)
Oklahoma (L at Nebraska, vs. Mizzou/projected L's at KU, Okie St, CU, Tech, UT/at risk games: at Baylor, vs. UT)
GAMES TO WATCH
Big XII Games January 16-18, 2006, with IQ (Interest Quotient) are:
1. KU @ MU (Monday, 6p.m.)*****
Mizzou cannot afford another home loss. KU is not as desperate for a victory for the sake of the REAL standings, but is desperate to play a good game and re-establish its confidence level.
2. Iowa St @ Nebraska***1/2 (Tuesday 6:30p.m.)
Nebraska has followed the RS formula to a "T" through two games-holding serve at home and crushing a bottom-feeder on the road. Can the Huskers do what KU and Mizzou could not: follow up an impressive road win by protecting their home court? ISU looked like chopped liver vs. Texas, but played a competitive game at Tech. This is the Iowans' chance to make some hay in the REAL Standings.
3. Texas Tech @ Texas (Tuesday 8:00p.m.)**
Wake me when it's over.
4. A&M @ k-state Wednesday (7p.m.)****
A&M is looking for a road victory to negate its 1 point loss to OU Saturday at home. This is the perfect time to get it as k-state revisits Planet Earth. If k-state can follow up its performance Saturday with another strong showing-even at home-it will take a step closer to inclusion in the REAL Standings. Which is its primary goal anyway.
5. Baylor @ Colorado (Wednesday 8:30p.m.)*
Wake me when it's over Part II.
Grow Big Blue!
*Texas, the only Tier One team, is projected to win all of its home games and to be "at risk" in all road games vs. Tier Two teams.
The Tier Two teams are projected to win all home games with the exception of UT. They are projected to lose all road games not played in Manhattan and Waco. They are "at risk" against UT at home and on the road at Baylor and k-state.
As always, teams can move up or down in status with meaningful road wins and embarrassing home losses.