BIG XII RECAP Barry Collier should be the No. 2 candidate for Big 12 Coach of the Year honors after his Cornhuskers took out Iowa State in Ames Wednesday night. Nebraska has climbed out of the pre-season Pit of Oblivion into a tie for fourth place with Colorado and having a REAL shot at a first round bye in the conference tourney.
With its Road victory, NU picked up a full game in the REAL Standings and gained half a game on Colorado. The Buffs, who had a meaningful victory of their own, moved up half a game in the REAL Standings themselves by virtue of their at-risk home victory over Oklahoma.
The games that will determine these teams' ultimate fortunes-provided they take care of business in their remaining home games--are CU at NU and k-state, and NU at A&M and Mizzou. If either team wins both of its key games, Selection Sunday will be a fun day. If either wins one of the games, it will be 10-6, and an anxious Selection Sunday awaits.
Nebraska's victory in Ames is even more impressive considering that they accomplished one of the rarest of feats in sports--the old REAL Standings Double Cross: i.e., beating a team on the Road that you lost to at home-a distinction NU shares this year with KU.
On the flip side of the ledger, the Sooners dropped out of contention for the top two spots in the conference; and ISU can start luring the NIT with visions of Hilton Magic.
The other mid-week games were of no consequence. As projected, KU made it out of Stillwater unscathed, UT drubbed Baylor at home, and Tech sliced and diced k-state at home.
THE REAL STANDINGS*
The REAL Standings, as of February 12, 2006:
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. 10.5-5.5 Oklahoma (L at Nebraska, vs. Mizzou, at KU, at CU/projected L at UT/at risk games: at Tech)
Colorado (L's at UT, vs. KU, at ISU, at A&M/projected L's at KU, at NU/at risk game: at k-state) Nebraska (L's vs. ISU, at KU, at CU, vs. KU, at UT/projected L's at A&M/at risk game at MU) 6. 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)
Texas Tech (L's at A&M, UT, OU, at KU, vs. UT, at CU/projected L at NU/at risk games at Okie St, Baylor, vs. OU)
Iowa St (L's vs. UT, at Tech, vs. A&M, vs. KU, at k-state, at KU, vs. NU/projected L's at OU, CU/at risk game at Baylor)
9. 5-11 Mizzou (4-7/Projected L's at KU, CU, ISU/HAC games vs. A&M, vs. NU) 10. 4.5-11.5 k-state (4-7/ Projected L's at OU, NU, vs. UT, vs. KU/HAC game vs. CU) Okie St (3-8/Projected L's at ISU, OU, vs. UT/HAC game vs. Tech)(Projected W vs. Baylor) 12. 3.5-12.5 Baylor (2-9/Projected L's at KU, Okie St/HAC games vs. A&M, vs. ISU, vs. Tech)
GAMES TO WATCH Big XII Games February 18-19, with IQ (Interest Quotient) are:
1. Iowa St at OU (Sat. at Noon)*1/2
There should be a law against what OU's big men do to Iowa St's front line this Saturday in Norman. Colorado did the Cyclones no favors.
2. Colorado at k-state (Sat. at 12:30p.m.)***1/2
As noted above, CU needs to win this game or at Nebraska to stake its NCAA claim. k-state is not completely worthless at home, so it could be a game tp the bitter end.
3. A&M at Baylor (Sat. at 12:30p.m.)***
"What," you say incredulously, "a Baylor game getting three stars?" Well, yes. The Bears are riding a two game home winning streak, have a pair of handy-dandy guards who can play with anyone in the conference, and are playing an arch-rival. If they can slow down Joseph Jones, a/k/a Manhunter from Mars, even a little bit, they have a legitimate chance of extending their home streak to three.
4. Mizzou at Kansas (Sat. at 2:45p.m.)**1/2
This game, were it not between rivals, would be a 1 Star affair. Being that Mizzou will be the opponent, it should be a festive atmosphere-kind of like in those westerns that have multiple hangings, with a vendor circulating through the crowd selling programs: "Can't tell one victim from another without a program."
5. Texas Tech at Nebraska Sat. at 3p.m.)**
Is there a worse Road team in the conference than Tech? Other than Baylor, I mean. A projected W for the Huskers. A Must W for the Huskers.
6. Texas at Okie St (Sun. at 12:30p.m.)***1/2
Okie St has some athletes. They are the only team in the conference that has been able to match up with KU on the basis of sheer athleticism. They have the edge on UT in this regard. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, UT has accomplished players. Still, if OSU comes to play hard-nosed D for 40 minutes, as they did Monday night, it will be another ugly game to watch. And good teams are vulnerable in ugly games if they don't remain patient. If Okie St gets out to an early lead, it could be a 40 minute game.
Go Big Blue! --Mark
*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 teams that have cast themselves into the Pit of Oblivion.
As for the teams in the Pit, each is projected to (a) lose every Road game; (b) lose every home game vs. the Tier One teams; (c) win every home game vs. each other; and (4) to have a Half-Assed Chance to win every home game vs. a Tier 2 team. As always, teams can move up or down in status with meaningful road wins and embarrassing (or enough) home losses.