First, the bad news. KU is not the juggernaut I had envisioned in the pre-season REAL Standings. In fact, four games into the conference season, the Jayhawks are fortunate they have not dropped 1 and ½ games in the Standings: they should have lost a full game vs. Iowa St in Lawrence and avoided dropping ½ game in Austin by the skin of their beaks. The good news is that the Jayhawks might be something better than a juggernaut: viz., resourceful. And with seven Road games remaining, six of them on courts not in Fort Worth or Lubbock, they will need to be.
What this means is that the original rationale for including Baylor and Okie St as “contenders”—i.e., to manufacture a sense of suspense out of nothing--is no longer in effect. There REALly is uncertainty as to the outcome of the Big 12 race. There REALly is suspense.
Bill Self apparently knew what he was talking about when he said earlier that the Big 12 was not good yet, but would be by February.
So let’s reset. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to every team that has shown the potential to win all of its Home games and call them “contenders” until they lose at Home or drop enough Road games to render them irrelevant.
In other words, 60% of the teams in the conference deserve consideration as “contenders,” at least until proven otherwise.
Let’s fill Tier Two will with those teams that have a REAListic (roughly 35-50%) chance of taking out a Tier One team at Home.
And let’s make Tier Three those teams that have a REAListic chance of downing a Tier Two team at Home. (Which is nobody.)
Leaving Tier Four as those teams that have no REAListic chance of beating any other team anywhere, with the exception of each other.
THE CURRENT 2013 SEASON REAL TIERS (Subject to change)
1. Tier One: Baylor/Iowa St/KU/KSU/OU/OSU
2. Tier Two: Texas/West Virginia
3. Tier Three: N/A
4. Tier Four: TCU/Tech.
THE CURRENT 2013 REAL STANDINGS:
KU (4-0) Projected L’s: at K-State, at OU, at OSU, at ISU, at BU At-risk games: at WVU
K-State (4-0) Projected L’s: at ISU, at OU, at KU, at BU, at OSU At-risk games: at UT
Oklahoma (3-1) Projected L’s: at KU, at BU, at ISU, at OSU At-risk games: at UT
Baylor (3-1) Projected L’s: at ISU, at OU, at K-State, at OSU At-risk games: at WVU, at UT
Iowa St (3-1) Projected L’s: at OSU, at K-State, at OU, at BU At-risk games: at UT, at WVU
Okie St (2-2) Projected L’s: at BU, at KU, at ISU At-risk games: at UT, at WVU
W. Virginia (1-3) Projected L’s: at OSU, at BU, at K-State, at KU, at OU At-risk games: KU, OSU, BU, ISU
Texas (0-4) Projected L’s: at OU, at K-State, at WVU, at KU, at OSU At-risk games: OSU, ISU, K-State, OU, BU
Texas Tech (1-4) Projected L’s: ISU, at UT, WVU, K-State, at BU, OSU, at WVU, OU, at ISU, at K-State, at KU, UT At-risk games: N/A
TCU (0-5) Projected L’s: at WVU, BU, at UT, KU, WVU, at OU, at ISU, UT, at KU, OSU, at Tech, at K-State, OU At-risk games: N/A
What to Watch
1. Okie St at Baylor (4:30p.m.)**** (projected W: Baylor)
It is likely that the ultimate Big 12 champion will win in Waco. Meaning this could be an elimination game for one of these teams. No, losing to Baylor on the Road will not count against Okie St in the REAL Standings, but could be the straw that breaks the Cowboys’ back in the REAL world, putting them in the untenable position of probably having to win out to stay in the mix, what with games in Lawrence and Ames remaining.
2. Texas at Oklahoma (8:30p.m.) ***1/2 (Projected W: OU)
UT was desperate at Home on Saturday and played like it. Rick Barnes is starting to take a wee little bitty bit of heat in Austin, and UT should play like a desperate team again. They would probably win this game at Home. Expect them to still be competitive in Norman.
3. KU at K-State (7:00p.m.)**** (Projected W: K-State)
You can throw the record books out the window when these arch-rivals play. For the record, KU is 183-91 all-time vs. K-State. A win here is essential to maintain a 2-1 margin over their arch-rivals.
4. TCU at West Virginia (6:30p.m.)* (Projected W: WVU)
Unless you’re a Mountaineer or Cyclone fan, this Wednesday should be date night.
5. Iowa St at Texas Tech (8:00p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: ISU)
See Game 4.