BIG XII RECAP At the beginning of the conference season, who woulda thunk that, after nine games, the championship race would be down to three teams. Then, it looked like we might never be up to two-especially with OU 0-2 and KU 1-2, with the four losses coming at the hands of Nebraska, k-state and Mizzou. OU's loss at Nebraska was somewhat understandable at the time, but losing at home to Mizzou? And KU looked every bit the youngest team in the history of top college basketball programs in blowing leads late to k-state in Lawrence and to Mizzou anywhere.
Yet here we are, with the Sooners and Jayhawks having joined in the fun at the top of the league standings with UT, and all three methodically taking care of business on the Road.
UT over Tech by 21 in Lubbock. Check.
KU over Nebraska by 21 in Lincoln. Check.
OU over Okie St by 8 (hey, it is a rivalry game) in Stillwater. Check.
Colorado under A&M by 1 in College Station, three days after getting waxed by Iowa St in Ames by 17. I did say we were down to three teams.
CU is still in the best position, by far, to claim the final Thursday bye in the Big 12 tournament, but, by losing twice to second-tier teams in the same week-even on the Road-the Buffs dropped by the wayside as far as dreams of contending for league honors and a decent seed in the Big Dance are concerned.
Meanwhile, Iowa St lost a golden opportunity to improve its post-season remedy by falling to a Pit of Oblivion team in Manhattan.
As for Mizzou, here's a suggestion that they rename the Paige "Tom Petty Arena," because they are free-falling.
Or, to keep it in the family, the Brad Pitt of Oblivion might be more appropriate MU moniker-except that Mizzou will have to elevate its game considerably to even climb back up into the P of O. But it's hard to fly when you don't even try.
THE REAL STANDINGS
The REAL Standings* as of February 9, 2006, are: 1. 14.5-1.5 Texas
(L at OU/No projected L's/at risk game: at A&M) 2. 13-3
Kansas (L's vs. k-state, at Mizzou/projected L at UT/at risk games: None)
3. 11-5 Oklahoma (L at Nebraska, vs. Mizzou, at KU/projected L's at UT/at risk games: at Tech, Colorado)
Colorado (L's at UT, vs. KU, at ISU, at A&M/projected L at KU, at NU/at risk games: OU, at k-state) 5. 8.5-7.5 Nebraska (L's vs. ISU, at KU, at CU, vs. KU/projected L's at UT, ISU, A&M/at risk game at MU) 6. 8-8 Texas Tech (L's at A&M, , UT, OU, at KU, vs. UT/projected L's at CU, NU/at risk game at Baylor, vs. OU)
7. 7.5-8.5 A&M (L's vs. OU, at OSU, at k-state, vs. KU, at OU at UT/projected L at Tech/at risk games: at Baylor, at Mizzou, vs. UT)
Iowa St (L's vs. UT, at Tech, vs. A&M, vs. KU, at k-state/projected L's at KU, OU, CU/at risk game at Baylor) GAMES TO WATCH Big XII Games February 11-12, with IQ (Interest Quotient) are:
1. Baylor at OU (Sat. at 12:30p.m.)*1/2
I wrote in this space 11 days ago that Baylor was to be taken seriously. Especially in Waco. Their game in Waco against Quin's Quitters, does not, however, make them dangerous on the Road against one of the league's top dogs-especially when the dog is Big and Red. The only way to make this game moderately amusing is to take the Under. This has all the makings of a 55-42 game.
2. Okie St at A&M (Sat. at 2:30p.m.)*1/2
Okie St has enough talent to make this game interesting. As the Fabulous Thunderbirds would ask, are they tuff enough?
3. Nebraska at Texas (Sat. at 3p.m.)*1/2
Can NU play Texas better on the Road than they did KU at home? Could be an indicator of the relative strength of the two teams playing in Austin two weeks hence.
4. Texas Tech at Colorado (Sat. at 3p.m.)*1/2
Tech on the Road? Insert your own joke. Colorado might not be Kansas, but even though it's just the Coors Center, to the Buffaloes, there's no place like home.
5. Iowa St at KU (Sat. at 3p.m.)***
Probably the best game of the day. Which is what they call damnation by faint praise. This is not a trap game for KU. The trap game was at Nebraska on Wednesday following the Hawks' emotional victory over OU. They should be back on track and psyched up for this game in front of the home fans. With the Hawk's front line starting to resemble an actual front line, there is no reason for this game being any closer than 15-20 points at the buzzer.
6. k-state at Mizzou (Sun. at 12:30p.m.)
I guess there was a time when it seemed like a good idea to make this game the weekend's headline attraction. Is there any chance that Quin's Quitters will Quit Quitting and actually exert some effort? Is there any chance anyone other than the team's closest friends and relatives will spend their Sunday afternoon at the Paige-errrr Petty Arena-errr, the BPOO? Actually, if you were a close friend or relative, why would you want to experience the pain of watching people who mean something to you wallow in the Missouri mire one more minute than necessary? As a good friend of mine has been known to say, "MU Sucks."
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-hey, as long as there's a risk that Mizzou will bring in an interim coach, they remain a theoretical threat in Columbia. As always, teams can move up or down in status with meaningful road wins and embarrassing (or enough) home losses.