REAL Standings: We're No. 2: So We Try Harder

BIG XII RECAP Normally, a win by the home team is a non-event in the REAL Standings--the primary premise of which is that championships are won on the road. All you can do at home is stay alive and maintain the opportunity to separate yourself from the field on foreign territory.

But OU's home court victory over UT Saturday was an event. Because of its early losses to. NU in Lincoln and to hapless Mizzou in Norman, OU had been downgraded from contender to just another team seeking a bye on March 9 in Dallas. And UT, fueled by a nine game winning streak, including a road win at No. 3 Memphis, had assumed an aura of invincibility in a conference of teams that were either mediocre or trying to find their way.

Saturday's game, therefore, had changed from a projected OU victory to being characterized as an at-risk game for both teams. What was surprising was how little fight Texas put up when losing was clearly an option. Missing free throw after free throw, they went out not with a bang, but a whimper.

At any rate, the talk about UT becoming the second team to go through the conference undefeated can now stop. KU's 2002 team retains ownership of that singular achievement. Speaking of KU, the 2006 Jayhawks' Road victory in Ames coupled with its W on Wednesday in College Station, results in a big +2 in the REAL Standings for the week.

The Jayhawks take over 2nd place in the REAL Standings by a full game over Colorado. CU, as projected, won its home game vs. k-state. In addition to the Buffs, NU, A&M, and Tech also performed as projected by protecting their home courts vs. Mizzou, Baylor, and Okie St respectively. No movement, therefore, up or down, by any of these teams in the REAL Standings.

As an aside, Baylor, hanging tough in a 72-70 loss at A&M, gave notice that it is shaking off the rust accumulated during its non-conference suspension and intends to show up the rest of the year. Any team that does not come prepared to play the Bears-especially in Waco-is inviting serious damage to its RPI.

THE REAL STANDINGS

The REAL Standings* as of January 29, 2006, are:

1. 12.5-3.5 Texas (L at OU/No projected L's/at risk games: at MU, Texas Tech, Okie St, k-state, A&M)

2. 10-6 Kansas (L's vs. k-state, at Mizzou/projected L's at NU, Okie St, UT, k-state)

3. 9-7 Colorado (L's at UT, vs. KU/projected L's at ISU, A&M, k-state, NU, KU)

4. 8.5-7.5 Oklahoma (L at Nebraska, vs. Mizzou/projected L's at KU, Okie St, CU, Tech, UT/at risk game: at Baylor)

5. 8-8 k-state (L's at ISU, vs. NU, at CU/projected L's at Mizzou, Tech, OU, NU/at risk games: at Baylor, vs. UT)

Nebraska (L's vs. ISU, at KU, at CU/projected L's at OSU, UT, ISU, A&M, MU)

Texas Tech (L's at A&M, UT, OU/projected L's at KU, CU, NU, Okie St/at risk games: vs. UT, at Baylor)

8. 7.5-8.5 A&M (L's vs. OU, at OSU, at k-state, vs. KU/projected L's at OU, UT, MU, Tech/at risk games: at Baylor)

Iowa St (L's vs. UT, at Tech, vs. A&M, vs. KU/projected L's at k-state, KU, OU, CU/at risk games: at Baylor)

OkieSt (L at Mizzou, vs. CU at UT, at Tech/projected L's at k-state, A&M, ISU, OU/at risk games: vs. UT)

11. 7-9 Mizzou (L vs. CU, at k-state, vs. ISU, at NU/projected L's at Tech, KU, CU, ISU/at risk games: vs. UT, at Baylor)

GAMES TO WATCH

Big XII Games January 30-February 1, 2006, with IQ (Interest Quotient) are:

1. Texas Tech at KU (Mon. @ 8p.m.)*** The genesis of the Hawks' demise last season, which culminated in their loss to Bucknell, was the game in Lubbock. One moment the Hawks were a 21-1 team and undefeated in conference play, with the lead and possession of the ball in the game's final seconds. The next moment, after being mugged by Tech defenders desperately attempting to be called for a foul, Miles was charged for traveling. It was all downhill from there. The current nucleus of the Hawks was on the KU bench or in high school at the time, so who knows how much they care about last year. This year's game in Lawrence shouldn't be close in the final five minutes. Still, you take a Bobby Knight team for granted at your peril.

2. Nebraska at Okie St (Tue. @ 7p.m.)** "That's boring. You're boring. Stop boring everybody!" --Homer Simpson

3. k-state at Baylor (Wed. @ 7p.m.)*** What could be Baylor's best chance to grab a win this season is also k-state's best remaining chance to grab a Road win (unless Mizzou completely tanks in Q's final games as its dead-errrrr head-coach). At any rate, this is a must game for the purple people. If k-state loses this one, they are Thursday and NIT bound.

4. A&M at Oklahoma (Wed. @ 7p.m.)***1/2 The Aggies lost to OU in College Station, so why would you think they could win in Norman-especially having just squeezed by Baylor at home while OU was taking down mighty UT? Maybe A&M was looking ahead? Maybe OU will have a letdown and/or be looking ahead to KU on Sunday? Might be an easy Sooner W. Might be a barnburner. Worth checking out.

5. Texas at Mizzou (Wed. @ 8p.m.)***1/2 Texas will be bringin' it to take out its OU frustrations on the Tigers. It is hard to come up with a scenario in which this game is even moderately interesting. Maybe Thomas Gardner scores 81? The only reason to watch this foregone-conclusion-game is to see whether Mizzou has enough pride to compete for 25-30 minutes or has packed it in for the season. Go Big-and less green--Blue!

--Mark

*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. As always, teams can move up or down in status with meaningful road wins and embarrassing home losses.

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