There was, of course, only one game of note, Saturday. But with Iowa St at OU being an at-risk affair, that game was assured of moving the REAL Standings needle prior to tip-off. With its lackluster play down the stretch, the Sooners allowed the Cyclones to pick up half a REAL game and remain in at least a theoretical position to challenge for the Big 12 title with eight games remaining on its schedule.
The other four games went as projected, with Baylor and Mizzou hanging in the race by the slimmest of threads. Okie St did a nice job for 39 minutes of turning its 41 point loss in Waco on its head, even taking the lead, 57-56, at the 1:42 mark. Then, the Cowboys decided, for some reason, to foul the conference’s best free throw shooter, Brady Heslip, on three consecutive Baylor possessions. As a result, the Bears remain in the championship picture.
Mizzou, meanwhile, maintained its half game lead over KU in the REAL Standings with its W in Columbia. What separates the two teams, at this point, is that KU has yet to play in Manhattan. That game, on Valentine’s Day Eve, could be the deciding factor as to whether the Jayhawks capture all or a share of their eighth consecutive Big 12 title, unless one of the contenders takes charge of the race by besting both of the others in their round-robin semi-tournament down the stretch.
K-State took care of A&M with a solid second half in Manhattan. Texas played Tech in Austin. ‘Nuf said.
Tier 1: Baylor, KU, Mizzou
Tier 2: Iowa St, K-State, Texas
Tier 3: Oklahoma, Okie St, Texas A&M
Tier 4: Texas Tech
REAL BIG 12 STANDINGS
Mizzou (8-2) Projected L’s: at KU At Risk games: N/A
KU (8-2) Projected L’s: at Baylor At Risk games: at K-State
Baylor (8-2) Projected L’s: at Mizzou At Risk games: at UT, at ISU
Iowa St (7-3) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at K-State, at Mizzou
At Risk games: at Okie St, vs. Baylor
Texas (4-6) Projected L’s: at KU At Risk games: at A&M, at OU, at Okie St, vs. Baylor
K-State (5-5) Projected L’s: at Texas, at Baylor, at Mizzou At Risk games: vs. KU, at A&M
Oklahoma (3-7) Projected L’s: vs. Mizzou, at ISU, at Baylor, at Texas
At Risk games: at Tech, vs. Texas
Okie St (4-6) Projected L’s: at KU, at Mizzou, at OU, vs. KU, at K-State
At Risk games: vs. ISU, vs. Texas
Texas A&M (3-7) Projected L’s: at ISU, vs. Mizzou, vs. KU, at Okie St, at OU
At Risk games: vs. UT, at Tech, vs. K-State
Texas Tech (0-10) Projected L’s: at K-State, at KU, At ISU, vs. Texas, at Baylor, vs. Mizzou
At Risk games: vs. OU, vs. A&M
ON THE TUBE
Mizzou at Oklahoma***1/2: (6:00p.m.—ESPNU) (Projected W: Mizzou)
If, as Bill Parcells, asserts, you are what your record says you are, Mizzou is an 8-2 team (15-3 in the REAL Standings). If not, they are a 6-4 team masquerading as one that is 8-2 after getting bailed out by some—how shall we say—curious Big 12 officiating team (what else is new?) If the officiating world turns and Lonnie pulls a coaching rabbit out of his hat, this is a potential unexpected pitfall for those who believe that Mizzou is a powerhouse. Especially if those threes stop falling for a half. Not saying to expect it, but also saying don’t mark this one down in the W column for Mizzou before the game tips off—even though that is precisely what the REAL Standings do.
Texas at Texas A&M ***1/2: (8:00p.m.—ESPN) (At-risk game)
The KU at Mizzou game of the Lone Star State, as the Longhorns assume KU’s role of playing its last game in the lair of the traditional rival that is fleeing the conference to escape the superior program’s shadow. Only without any championship implications.
Iowa St at Okie St***1/2: (6:00p.m.—ESPN2) (At-risk game)
The Cyclones need this one with games at Waco, Manhattan, and Columbia awaiting them down the Road. Can they win where Mizzou didn’t and where Baylor was fortunate to get out of with its championship hopes intact?
Texas Tech at K-State*: (8:00p.m.—Big 12 Network) (Projected W: K-State)
Could K-State lose this game? Even if it tried?
KU at Baylor *****: (6:00p.m.—ESPN2) (Projected W: Baylor)
KU plays Baylor in Waco. Baylor plays Mizzou in Columbia. Mizzou plays KU in Lawrence. If all three win at Home and lose on the Road, we are looking at a distinct possibility—if not probability—of a co-championship. Even a potential three way. If the Jayhawks intend to stand alone atop the conference standings at the end of the season, the best place to start is with a W in this game in what will be an atmosphere almost as frenzied as the one in Columbia, versus a considerably more talented team.