It is time for the pre-season 2009 REAL Big 12 Standings. I know what some of you are thinking: What do you mean “pre-season”? OU beat k-state Saturday afternoon. Nebraska beat Mizzou. Baylor beat Tech. UT beat Iowa St. Not to mention the Okie St taking care of A&M with relative ease.
But, as they say in Augusta, the Masters begins on the Back 9 on Sunday.
In the Big 12, the season begins with KU’s first conference game.
The REAL Big 12 standings is not intended to be predictive in nature. My subjective pre-season prediction last year, for example, was that KU would do better than its REAL Standings projected record of 12-4. And my prediction was correct (13-3).
What the REAL Standings does is indicate which team or teams are in the most advantageous position to win the conference 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 to this point, I have also consulted Sagarin and Kenpom to supplement what my own eyes have seen.
THE 2009 PRE-SEASON REAL STANDINGS
My Pre-season assessment of the Big 12 teams is:
1. Contenders: UT and OU, of course. Both have been in the Top 10 all season. Baylor is looking good. And KU: because, even though they have yet to impress me (or anyone else) as a team that can get the job done on the Road, they (a) have the talent to do so if they get their act together—and I mean soon; (b) are the Defending National Champions (can that ever be mentioned enough?); and (c) this is a KU-oriented analysis, so the Hawks get the benefit of any reasonable doubt.
2. Competitors: A&M, k-state, Mizzou, Nebraska, Okie St,
3. Bottom-feeders: Colorado, Iowa St, Tech
Here, then, are the 2009 Big 12 REAL Standings two days from the tip-off of the 2009 Big 12 season:
KU (0-0) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at OU Losable games: at NU, at Mizzou, at k-state
OU (1-0) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at UT Losable games: at A&M, at Okie St, at Mizzou
Baylor (1-0) Projected L’s: at OU, at UT Losable games: at A&M, at k-state, at Mizzou, at Okie St
UT (1-0) Projected L’s: at OU, at Baylor, at KU Losable games: at NU, at A&M, at Okie St
NU (1-0) Projected L’s: at OU, at Mizzou, at KU, at k-state, at Baylor Losable games: at ISU, vs. KU, at Tech, at CU, vs. UT
A&M (0-1) Projected L: at KU, at UT, at OU, at Baylor, at NU Losable games: vs. Baylor, vs. OU, vs. UT, at Tech, at CU
Mizzou (0-1) Projected L’s: at Okie St, at k-state, at UT, at KU, at A&M Losable games: vs. Baylor, at ISU, vs. KU, at CU, vs. OU
: OSU (1-0) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at NU, at A&M, at KU, at UT, at OU Losable games: vs. OU, at Tech, vs. Baylor, at CU, vs. UT
k-state (0-1) Projected L’s: at KU, at NU, at UT, at A&M, at Mizzou, at Okie St Losable games: vs. Baylor, at CU, vs. KU, at ISU
CU (0-0) Projected L’s: at Mizzou, vs. KU, at Tech, at KU, at OU, at ISU, vs. UT, at NU, at Baylor, at k-state Losable games: vs. k-state, vs. NU, vs. Mizzou, vs. Okie St, vs. A&M
ISU (0-1) Projected L’s: at Mizzou, vs. KU, at CU, vs. OU, at k-state, at Okie St, at KU, vs. Baylor, at A&M, at NU Losable games: vs. NU, vs. Mizzou, vs. k-state
Tech (0-1) Projected L’s: vs. UT, at Mizzou, at A&M, at Okie St, vs. Baylor, at k-state, at OU, at UT, vs. OU, vs. KU, at ISU Losable games: vs. NU, vs. Okie St, vs. A&M
FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
The MidweekBig XII Games, with IQ (Interest Quotient):
1. Texas at Oklahoma (8:00p.m.)**** (Projected W: OU)
What needs to be said. The two league favorites playing each other right off the bat. A veritable must game for the Home team.
2. k-state at KU (7:00p.m.)***1/2 (Projected W: KU)
A second must game so early in the season.Subjectively speaking, the Jayhawks must win this game, or their Big 12 dreams will be as bleak as their national championship hopes seemed with 2:12 remaining in regulation on April 7.
3. Nebraska at Iowa St (7:00p.m.)** (Toss-up)
Two teams, two programs, seeking credibility. Might be a dud game later in the season. For now, the questions surrounding these two makes it worthy of two stars.
4. Colorado at Mizzou (8:00p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: Mizzou)
Mizzou has flirted with respectability thisseason.That could go down the drain in 40 minutes if they don't take care of business vs. what might be the worst team in the Big 12.
5.Baylor at A&M(8:00p.m.)**** (Toss-up)
Another top of the line game for so early in the season. This is the game that Baylor won in like 17 overtimes last year.