REAL Standings: It's not lonely at the top edition

Someone inquired recently, after Okie St lost in Waco and stood 2-3 in the newspaper standings, why they were still included as Tier One team, which is roughly synonymous with being s legitimate contender. After all, the Cowboys were under .500 and 3 newspaper games behind the undefeated Jayhawks. But that is the point of the REAL Standings—to disregard misleading information and assess where the Big 12 teams stand in relationship to each other based on who they have played and where and who they have yet to play and where.

As recently as Friday, Okie St was 3 games back of the Jayhawks in the newspaper (7-0 to 4-3), but just two games behind in the REAL Standings.

The reason for this dichotomy is simple. The REAL Standings are based on the premise that not all games are created (or counted) as equal. If you are Tier One team, you only get credit for Good Wins (i.e., Road victories over other Tier One teams) and you only get punished for Bad Losses (i.e., any Home loss or any loss against a team in a lower tier).

Even when Okie St was 2-3, they had done nothing to play themselves out of the picture. Their losses were at K-State, Oklahoma, and Baylor. Although they had no Good Wins, they had no Bad Losses, and they had only two “difficult” games remaining: at KU and Iowa St.

KU on the other hand, while having one Good Win in Manhattan and no losses (let alone Bad ones) still had games at Oklahoma, Okie St, Iowa St and Baylor staring it squarely in the face like the pack of hyper-genetic wolves gathered around Liam Neeson in the final scene of The Grey.

Further, whereas a win versus TCU or Texas Tech this season is virtually meaningless, a head to head win on the Road vs, a Tier One team is worth two full games in the REAL Standings vis-à-vis that opponent (i.e., one game for a Good Win by the Road team plus one game for a Bad Loss by the Home team).

Which means that Okie St, which was two REAL games behind KU on Friday, is now in a flat-footed tie with the Jayhawks for first place, notwithstanding a two game discrepancy in your local newspaper. After all, the Cowboys are now the only team in the conference with a Good Win that has not been offset by Bad Loss.

KU, K-State and Oklahoma, of course, all have one Good Road Win (at Manhattan, Norman, and Waco respectively), but each has been offset by a Bad Home Loss (to Okie St, KU, and K-State respectively). OU, in fact, was primed to move into first place in the REAL World by itself on Saturday until Angel Rodriguez made two late free throws to hand the Sooners their only Home Loss of the season.

Baylor and Iowa St remain behind the 8-ball, both having suffered a Bad Loss (ISU at Texas Tech and Baylor at Home to OU) with no Good W to compensate. Iowa St’s victory on Saturday over Baylor in Ames just maintained the status quo.

Texas’s Home victory over TCU and West Virginia’s Road W in Lubbock had little effect on even the lower 40% of the REAL Standings; although WVU did pick up ½ game by virtue of its one tier superiority over Tech.

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: Texas Tech

4. Tier Four: TCU

THE CURRENT 2013 REAL STANDINGS:

1. 13-5

KU (7-1) Projected L’s: at OU, at OSU, at ISU, at BU At-risk games: N/A

Okie St (5-3) Projected L’s: at ISU At-risk games: at UT, at WVU

3. 12.5-5.5

K-State (6-2) Projected L’s: at KU, at BU, at OSU At-risk games: at UT

Oklahoma (5-3) Projected L’s: at ISU, at OSU At-risk games: at UT

5. 11-7

Baylor (5-3) Projected L’s: at OU, at K-State, at OSU At-risk games: at WVU, at UT

Iowa St (5-3) Projected L’s: at K-State, at OU, at BU At-risk games: at UT, at WVU

7. 7.5-10.5

W. Virginia (3-5) Projected L’s: at BU, at K-State, at KU, at OU At-risk games: OSU, BU, ISU

8. 6-12

Texas (2-6) Projected L’s: at WVU, at KU, at OSU At-risk games: OSU, ISU, K-State, OU, BU, at Tech

9. 3.5-14.5

Texas Tech (2-6) Projected L’s: K-State, at BU, OSU, at WVU, OU, at ISU, at K-State, at KU At-risk games: UT

10. 0-18

TCU (0-8) Projected L’s: KU, WVU, at OU, at ISU, UT, at KU, OSU, at Tech, at K-State, OU At-risk games: N/A

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What to Watch

Monday:

1. Oklahoma at Iowa St (6:00p.m.)**** (Projected W: ISU)

The Sooners’ opportunity to reclaim the REAL ground they lost by virtue of Saturday’s loss to K-State in Norman.

2. Texas at West Virginia (8:00p.m.) **** (Projected W: WVU)

The team from the Hill Country looks to even the season series with the Mountaineers. This game must have looked better when ESPN scheduled it.

Tuesday

3. K-State at Texas Tech (5:00p.m.)*1/2 (Projected W: K-State)

The extra ½ star is in tribute to Tech’s Home W over Iowa St.

Wednesday

4. Baylor at Okie St (6:00p.m.)**** (Projected W:Okie St)

Suddenly, Okie St, the most talented team in the Big 12, relinquishes the role of the hunter in favor of being the hunted. Baylor has the on-court talent to bring the Cowboys back to earth. Not sure how good a coach Travis Ford is yet, but I do know one coach in this game he is better than.

5. KU at TCU (7:00p.m.) *1/2 (Projected W: KU)

A few years ago, I assessed KU’s chances of losing a game at Texas Tech as being 0% (yes, zero percent). When the Jayhawks lost, I promised that I would never again call any game as being zero or 100%. I must admit that I am sorely tempted to revisit that vow for this game: KU will be hot to cleanse the bad taste in its mouth left over from Saturday afternoon, and TCU might be the worst Big 12 team ever.

But my resolve is strong. As a certain Arthurian legend once declared, “Had I been made the partner of Eve, we’d be in Eden still.” Let’s say a KU win has a probability of 99.999%. Or about 99.998% more likely than that Eden thing.

Or, as Keith Langford would say: “Don’t get too torn up about Saturday’s game. It’s not like we lost to TCU.”

--Mark

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