Pre-Season REAL Standings: It's KU's to Lose. . .

BACKGROUND As a refresher, the REAL Big 12 standings is a method of assessing where teams stand in relation to each other, taking into account who and where they have played and who and where they have yet to play.

It is based on the premise that championships are won by:

1. Taking care of business (i.e., winning those games a champion should win–all home games and all road games against the league's have-nots); and

2. Winning games on the road that the other contenders do not.

Prior to the first game of the conference season, each Contender is assigned a W for all home games on its schedule and all games against the league's Have-Nots; to lose all of its road games against other Contenders, and to split its road games against the league's Middle of the Road teams, who will be referred to as the "Pretenders."

Adjustments are made to the standings when the actual result of a game differs from the projected result.

The key factor in the REAL standings is identifying the Contenders from the Pretenders and the Have-Nots. This is the only subjective aspect of the REAL Standings and is subject to change as the season progresses if actual results demonstrate that one of the Contenders REALly isn't or that one of the other teams should be taken more seriously.

Keep in mind that the REAL standings do not pretend to be predictions. They only reflect the team's likely record if it performs as projected.

THE TEAMS

The Contenders

The three obvious Contenders, based on the way they finished last year, their returning players, and their performance thus far this season are KU, A&M and Okie St. UT makes it a power foursome with four freshmen starters who are talented enough to win any game on the schedule if they mature as quickly as KU's frosh did last season.

The Pretenders

k-state and Mizzou look improved enough to be dangerous at home. Tech has Bobby Knight. And Baylor has some legitimate talent. The question is whether Nebraska and Oklahoma belong in this category. I have seen nothing from either team to justify such a lofty status, but Pomeroy and Sagarin have OU ranked as No. 9 and 60 respectively, and NU as 64 and 54. I will take their word for it and at least begin the conference schedule with these two as second tier teams.

The Have Nots

Colorado and Iowa St have, to this point in the season, shown nothing to encourage their fans or concern their opponents.

THE FORMULA:

The Contenders (KU, A&M, Okie St and UT) will be:

a. projected to win all of their home games and their road games at CU and ISU;

b. projected to lose their road game against each other; and

c. assigned ½ W and ½ L for each road game against Baylor, k-state, Mizozu, NU, OU, and Tech.

The Pretenders (Baylor, k-state, Mizzou, NU, OU, and Texas Tech) will be:

a. projected to win all their home games against Tier 2 and 3 teams;

b. projected to lose their road games vs. Tier 1 and 2 teams; and

c. assigned ½ W and ½ L for home games vs. Tier 1 teams and road games vs. Tier 3 teams.

The Have-Nots (Colorado and Iowa St) will be:

a. projected to win all home games against each other;

b. projected to lose all road games;

c. projected to lose all games against Tier 1 teams; and

d. assigned ½ W and ½ L for home games vs. Tier 2 teams.

PRE-SEASON REAL STANDINGS

Here, then, are the preseason REAL standings for 2007. KU is a solid favorite to win the conference because of its talent, experience--and playing the other three contenders only in Allen Fieldhouse.

1. 13-3

Kansas (No projected L's; at risk games at Tech, at Baylor, at NU, at Mizzou, at k-state, at OU)

2. 11-5

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

Texas (projected L's at Okie St, at A&M, at KU; at risk games at NU, at Tech, at Baylor, at OU)

Texas A&M (projected L's at KU, at Okie St, at UT; at risk games at Baylor, at Tech, at NU, at OU)

5. 8.5-7.5

k-state (projected L's at A&M, at Mizzou, at UT, at KU, at NU, at Okie St; at risk games at ISU, vs. KU, at CU)

Mizzou (projected L's at UT, at KU, at k-state, at Okie St, at NU, at A&M; at risk games at CU, at ISU, vs. KU)

7. 7-9

Nebraska (projected L's at OU, at k-state, at Mizzou, at Tech, at KU, at Baylor; at risk games at ISU, vs. Okie St, vs. UT, vs. KU, vs. A&M, at CU)

8. 6.5-9.5

Baylor

(projected L's at Okie St, at k-state, at OU, at UT, at Mizzou, at A&M, at Tech; at risk games vs. A&M, vs. KU, at ISU, vs. UT, vs. Okie St)

Oklahoma

(projected L's at Tech, at UT, at Okie St, at A&M, at Baylor, at Mizzou, at k-state; at risk games vs. Okie St, at Iowa St, vs. A&M, vs. UT, vs. KU)

Texas Tech

(projected L's at k-state, at Baylor, at Mizzou, at OU, at Okie St, at A&M, at UT; at risk games vs. KU, vs. A&M, vs. UT, vs. Okie St, at ISU)

11. 4-12

Iowa St

(projected L's at Mizzou, vs. KU, at CU, at Okie St, at A&M, at UT, at k-state, at KU, at NU; at risk games vs. NU, vs. k-state, vs. Baylor, vs. Mizzou, vs. OU, vs. Tech)

12. 2.5-13.5

Colorado

(projected L's vs. UT, at OU, vs. A&M, at NU, at KU, at Baylor, vs. Okie St, at k-state, vs. KU, at Tech, at ISU, at Mizzou; at risk games vs. Mizzou, vs. k-state, vs. NU)

GAMES TO WATCH

The Big XII Games this Saturday, January 6, 2007, with IQ (Interest Quotient) are:

1. OU at Tech** (12:30p.m.) –Bobby Knight goes for 881.

2. UT at Colorado** (3:00p.m. CST)-CU gets lucky, catching a young team in its first conference game. Or is it UT that is lucky, being initiated to conference play in such a non-threatening environment?

3. Baylor at Okie St** (5:00p.m.)-Another game of only average interest-unless Baylor is better than advertised.

4. Iowa St at Mizzou** (5:00p.m.)-Iowa St gets the honor of being the first Big 12 team to encounter Mizzou's new-fangled 40 minutes of something or other.

Sunday

KU at South Carolina*** (3:30p.m.)-The Jayhawks' final warm-up for conference play. The Hawks have taken a lot of heat for their apparent lack of effort or focus in most of their non-conference games. Although the Gamecocks are in the SEC's "Pretender" category, they will provide a good benchmark in assessing whether Ku is, indeed, ready to begin defense of its Big 12 Championship.

Pick (not projection) of the Week: The Game Hawks take down the not-so-game Cocks.

--Mark

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