I have held off as long as possible, but it is time for the first installment of the 2008 REAL Big 12 Standings. Held off, I say, because as soon as I post this, it is officially basketball season. The sweet, sweet smell, taste, and experience of a 12 win football season, culminating in an historic victory in Miami, is now relegated to Jayhawk lore.
And, yes, next season could prove to be even sweeter, as the Hawks replace Road games at Oklahoma St and A&M with lesser challenges—i.e., Texas and Texas at Home—but next season is seven plus months away. 233 days away to be precise.
And Big 12 basketball is but two days away.
At least the Big 12 and, ultimately, national champion in basketball will be crowned based on what teams actually do on the field of play, rather than on what biases and intellectual deficiencies govern the minds of voters who somehow allow Kansas-light to play in the pretend national championship game across from a team that lost twice, including at Home to a team so bad that its coach was run out of Fayetteville at the end of the season. That’s right: two teams that couldn’t even protect their Home turf against mediocre squads like Illinois and Arkansas were somehow anointed the two teams most qualified to play for the pretend national title.
But it has been a week since any REAL football has been played, unless you count LSU/Ohio St—which no discriminating fan should. So, on to the sport where merit trumps name.
The REAL Big 12 standings is not intended to be predictive in nature. My prediction, for example, is that KU will do better than its REAL Standings season-opening projected record of 12-4. What the REAL Standings does is indicate which team or teams are in the most advantageous position to win a championship without regard to their current record as shown in the newspaper or on your web page. It assesses where teams truly stand in relation to each other, taking into account who they have played and where and who and where they have yet to play. This is especially helpful in an unbalanced schedule setup, as most conferences—including the Big 12--now have, as opposed to the days when every Big 8 or SWC team played an identical schedule consisting of games home and away with every other conference opponent.
The premise of the REAL Standings is that championships are won by:
1. Winning EVERY game that a champion should win: i.e., all Home games and all games against the league’s bottom-feeders; and
2. Winning the most losable games—i.e., Road games vs. other contenders and competitive teams—with Road wins vs. a contender being “Special.”
In the REAL Standings, each contender is projected to win all Home games and all games against the conference’s bottom-feeders; to lose all Road games versus other contenders; and to be at-risk (i.e., assigned .5 W and .5 L) for all Road games against those teams that are competitive enough to be dangerous, even for a contender, on their Home court.
Second tier teams (i.e., the competitors), are projected to win their Home games vs. their peers and third tier teams; to lose their Road games vs. contenders and their peers; and to be at risk at Home vs. contenders and on the Road vs. the bottom-feeders.
Third tier teams are projected to lose every game except Home games vs. second tier teams (which are counted as at-risk games) and other third tier teams (which are projected W’s).
The only subjective factor in the REAL standings is identifying the contenders, the competitors, and the bottom-feeders. I usually base this on my own observations, but remain open to changing a team’s status as the season progresses if actual results demonstrate that one of the contenders REALly isn't, or that one of the others teams should be taken more seriously. This year, because my focus has been first and foremost on football up to this very day, I have also consulted Sagarin and Kenpom to supplement what my own eyes have seen.
THE 2008 PRE-SEASON REAL STANDINGS
My Pre-season assessment of the Big 12 teams is:
1. Contenders: KU, Texas, Texas A&M
2. Competitors: Baylor, k-state, Mizzou, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St (thanks to Sagarin and Kenpom, because the Cowboys have looked like pond scum when I have watched them—yet both have them rated highly enough to consider them a second-tier team with just a wee bit of benefit of the doubt)
3. Bottom-feeders: Colorado, Iowa St
Keeping in mind that the REAL standings do not pretend to be predictions (if they were, KU would be the prohibitive favorite, despite having to play both A&M on the Road and getting no chance to pin an L on either at Home), here are the 2008 Big 12 REAL Standings less than 48 hours from tip-off of the Big 12 season:
KU (0-0) Projected L’s: at UT, at A&M Losable games: at NU, at MU, at ksu, at OSU
UT (0-0) Projected L: at A&M Losable games: at MU, at OSU, at OU, BU, ksu, TT
A&M (0-0) Projected L: at UT Losable games: at TT, at ksu, at OSU, at MU, at OU, at BU
NU (0-0) Projected L’s: at KU, at MU, at ksu, at A&M, at OSU, at UT Losable games: KU, at CU, at ISU
Baylor (0-0) Projected L’s: at NU, at A&M, at UT, at KU, at OSU, at OU, at TT Losable games: UT, at CU, A&M
k-state (0-0) Projected L’s: at OU, at MU, at TT, at NU, at BU, at KU Losable games: at A&M, at CU, KU, UT, at ISU
Mizzou (0-0) Projected L’s: at TT, at KU, at NU, at ksu, at BU, at OU Losable games: UT, at ISU, KU, at CU, A&M
OU (0-0) Projected L’s: at KU, at BU, at A&M, at UT, at TT, at NU, at OSU Losable games: UT, at CU, A&M
Tech (0-0) Projected L’s: at OSU, at OU, at UT, at BU, at NU, at A&M, at KU Losable games: A&M, at CU, UT
OSU (0-0) Projected L’s: at OSU, at OU, at UT, at BU, at NU, at A&M, at KU Losable games: A&M, at CU, UT
CU (0-0) Projected L’s: at A&M, at UT, at ISU, at KU, at OSU, KU, at MU, at ksu, at NU Losable games: NU, ksu, MU, OU, TT, BU
ISU Projected L’s: at BU, at KU, at ksu, at NU, A&M, UT, at OU, at TT, KU, at CU, at MU Losable games: MU, OSU, NU, ksu
FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
Big XII Games this Weekend, with IQ (Interest Quotient):
1. Texas Tech at Okie St (12:30p.m.)**1/2 (Projected W: OSU)
Okie St’s Tier 2 status is in jeopardy right off the bat
2. UT at Mizzou (12:30p.m.)***1/2 (No projection)
This game will be in the 90’s if not triple digits. 35 second not needed.
15 second clock not needed.
3. Colorado at A&M (3:00p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: A&M)
Stench City. Not necessarily a reference to College Station.
4. Iowa St at Baylor (5:00p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: Baylor)
Stench City. Not necessarily a reference to Waco.
5. KU at NU (8:00p.m.)***1/2 (No projection)
Nebraska has a history of giving the Jayhawks all they can handle in Lincoln. They could keep it interesting for 25 minutes or so.