REAL Standings: The Pit of Oblivion (No, it's not the new Harry Potter Book)

BIG XII RECAP There is a reason I was hesitant for so long to include k-state as a factor in the REAL Standings, despite their victory in Lawrence. That game was an anomaly, and k-state had done nothing to suggest otherwise. Winning home games and a buck-fifty will get you a cup of coffee at the REAL Standings café.

I finally relented and included k-state-not because of anything k-state had accomplished, but because they at least belonged in the same conversation as NU and Mizzou, and I wasn't ready to toss those two teams into the REAL Standings' Pit of Oblivion.

k-state's litmus test was Wednesday night in Waco. Although I stated in the most recent version of the REAL Standings that "[a]ny team that does not come prepared to play the Bears-especially in Waco-is inviting serious damage to its RPI," and that this game "could be Baylor's best chance to grab a win this season," I also noted that it could be k-state's best remaining chance to grab a Road win.

Baylor passed. k-state failed.

Still, being a Road game, it wasn't fatal to k-state. They are still on life support. Barely.

Flunking out of the REAL Standings are Okie St and Mizzou. Both suffered yet another home loss and are projected to lose 9-10 games. They are tossed into the P.O.-which is appropriate, considering the mood of their fans.

As we approach this weekend's halfway point in the Big 12 season, it looks as if a semblance of a race has developed for the championship, with OU having handed UT a loss, KU coming on strong as well, and Colorado lurking in the shadows with its senior-laden lineup.

In addition to dropping Mizzou and Okie ST from the mix, the top two tiers have been realigned to include the four teams that appear to be on their way to first round byes in the conference tournament. UT still has a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot, but they appeared beatable even in their stomp of Mizzou Wednesday night. That was, after all, Mizzou, a team that is giving a new meaning to the phrase "quitting time."

In addition to having the best combination of experience and talent in the conference, UT has the best schedule-and, unlike OU and KU, they aren't weighed down by early season losses to inferior opponents like Nebraska, Mizzou, and k-state.

But keep an eye on Nebraska. Their loss of the talented Joe "There's a Bright Golden Haze in the Meadow" McCray, might prove to be the proverbial addition by subtraction. If so, they could be the one Tier Two team with a chance to crash the party and take Thursday off the week of the conference tourney. THE REAL STANDINGS

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

1. 13.5-2.5

Texas (L at OU/No projected L's/at risk games: at Texas Tech, k-state, A&M)

2. 12-4

Kansas (L's vs. k-state, at Mizzou/projected L at UT/at risk games at NU, k-state)

3. 11-5

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

4. 10.5-5.5

Oklahoma (L at Nebraska, vs. Mizzou/projected L's at KU, CU, UT/at risk game: at Tech)

5. 9-7

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

6. 8.5-7.5

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

7. 8-8

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

8. 7.5-8.5

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)

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


Big XII Games February 4-5, with IQ (Interest Quotient) are:

1. Mizzou at Texas Tech (Sat. at 12:30p.m.)*

Can't Mizzou call the season off now and get to work on what's REALly important: Interviewing coaches? Or is this game Bobby Knight's audition for the job? (Talk about a Lose-Lose proposition. . .)

2. A&M at Texas (Sat. at 1p.m.)***1/2

This is just enough of a rivalry, and A&M has just enough talent and coaching, to make this game interesting for awhile-like 20-25 minutes. If they can hang around to the 10 minute mark, a football game might break out.

3. Okie State at k-state (Sat. at 3p.m.)**

If you want to see some REAL Cowboys, take the afternoon off and take in Brokeback Mountain. If k-state blows this one, they will be P.O.'ed. Which, in a way, would be good: As they say, Mizzery loves company.

4. Baylor at Nebraska (Sat. at 8p.m.)*1/2

You might not even want to come home from the theater. Grab some dinner and hang around for Capote. As Midwest execution tales go, the one in Lansing 40 years ago is much more compelling than the one taking place in Lincoln this weekend.

5. OU at KU (Sun. at High Noon)*****

A true epic. Either the Jayhawk Kid or the Man they call Big Red will live to fight another day. The winner gets to take on Tex. Keep the women and children inside. They don't get much bigger than this at mid-season.

6. Colorado at Iowa St (Sun. at 1p.m.)***1/2

For thousands of years, the plainsmen of what is now Alberta, Canada killed buffalo by chasing them over the cliff at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This is a chance for the Buffaloes to get some measure of revenge by running the Cyclones into the Pit of Oblivion. Not a perfect analogy, to be sure, what with Cyclones not being human beings-let alone buffalo chasing plainsmen-and all. But you get the idea. Unless you're a k-stater, in which case, it means: Iowa State is in big doo-doo if they lose this game.

Go Big Blue!


*Texas, KU, OU, and CU, the Tier One teams, are projected to win all of their home games, lose their road games vs. other Tier One teams, and to be "at risk" in road games vs. Tier Two teams.

The Tier Two teams are projected to win all home games with the exception of games vs. Tier One teams. They are projected to lose all road games vs. Tier One and Two teams. They are "at risk" against Tier One teams at home and on the road against the bottom-feeders.

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