I have had to defend Ted Owens many times throughout the years from those who have claimed that he was a bad basketball coach. Which might seem strange coming from the first person I am aware of to publicly call for his replacement (i.e., in the University Daily Kansan circa 1977). You see, KU was running a campaign that year claiming that KU was “The Basketball School.” This was, historically accurate, but the results on the court had not been keeping pace with that assertion. If KU was “The Basketball School,” no one outside of Kansas was aware of it.
But it was not because Owens, who I had met and thought a great deal of as a person, was a bad coach. He had won Big 8 titles. He had been to two Final Fours. He was as good as any other coach in the Big 8, which included a solid stable of coaches during his tenure that included Norm Stewart, Joe Cipriano at Nebraska, Sox Walseth at Colorado, John Macleod at Oklahoma, and Jack Hartman at K-State.
Well, okay. Maybe not as good as Hartman.
But Owens was a good coach. Just not a great coach befitting a program at the self-proclaimed The Basketball School. Not like, say, a Larry Brown, Roy Williams, or Bill Self, whose off years are the envy of 95% of the Not Basketball Schools.
I mention this because Rick Barnes gets the same rap as Owens:that he is a bad coach. Well, he’s not, REALly. He has won three Big 12 championships and been to a Final Four at what is definitely not a Basketball School.
But, like Ted, he is not a great coach. He is not an elite coach. If he were, a team with two high school McDonald’s AA big men (Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner), and two other players now playing at or near that caliber (Jonathan Holmes and Isaiah Taylor), plus a seemingly solid group of role players, would not be 3-5 in the newspaper standings or 9.5-8.5 9n the REAL Standings and mired in 6th place. If, that is, they still qualify as a Tier One team after their debacle in Waco Saturday night. I mean, come on. The Road is hard. But not THAT hard.
Bill Self would have a team with UT’s talent atop the REAL Standings. But it is no disgrace to not be Bill Self. Other than Coach K, who is?
Fortunately, UT’s loss at Baylor, being a projected Loss, cost them nothing in the REAL Standings. In other games that had no REAL effect on the conference race, KU, Iowa St, and West Virginia, all won at Home, as projected, vs. K-State, TCU, and Texas Tech, respectively.
The only game that resulted in any change in the REAL Standings, which is inevitable in all At-risk games, was Oklahoma taking down Okie St in Stillwater.
As a result:
1. Texas is on notice that, despite being the consensus pre-season favorite to wrest the Big 12 title away from Bill Self, one non-projected loss will result in being demoted to Tier Two with non-luminarias TCU, K-State, and Okie St.
2. Oklahoma is in second place, two games behind KU and a half-game ahead of Iowa St and West Virginia. However, the latter two are, in REALity, better positioned to catch the Jayhawks. Both can pick up 2 of the 2.5 games they trail KU by with a win in Lawrence. OU can’t, having already lost in Lawrence.
The downside for the Cyclones and Mountaineers? They have to win in Lawrence.
3. The Big 12, obviously, still goes through Lawrence. Unless somebody, anybody, beats the Jayhawks in Lawrence, fuhgeddaboutit.
Tier 1: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia
Tier 2: K-State, Okie St, TCU
Tier 3: Texas Tech
KU (7-1) Projected Losses: at WVU, at OU At risk games: at OSU, at KSU
Oklahoma (5-4) Projected Losses: at ISU At risk games: at TCU, at KSU
Iowa St: (6-2) Projected Losses: at KU, at OU, at UT At risk games: at OSU, at KSU, at TCU
West Virginia (6-2) Projected Losses: at OU, at ISU, at BU, at KU At risk games: at OSU
Baylor (4-4) Projected Losses: at WVU, at KU, at ISU, at UT At risk games: N/A
Texas (3-5) Projected Losses: at OU, at WVU, at KU At risk games: at KSU
K-State (5-4) Projected Losses: at WVU, at TCU, at BU, at UT At risk games: at Tech, UT, OU, KU, ISU
Okie St (4-5) Projected Losses: at UT, at BU, at TCU, at WVU At risk games: KU, ISU, WVU, at Tech
TCU (1-7) Projected Losses: at BU, at UT, at KU, at OU, at OSU At risk games: OU, ISU
Texas Tech (1-8) Projected Losses: at ISU, KU, at UT, BU, OU, at TCU, at BU At risk games: KSU, OSU
BIG 12 SCHEDULE
1. Iowa St at KU (8:00pm)****(Projected W:KU)
Can the team with the most ignominious Loss of the year come away with the best Win? Ten other Big 12 teams hope so. Will KU get back on D this time?
2. West Virginia at Oklahoma (7:00pm)**** (Projected W: OU)
The Mountaineers are tough to figure. Good enough to take out K-State on the Road. Bad enough to lose to Iowa St and TCU at Home (unless you count fluking out a W on the scoreboard vs. the Horned Frogs). No way they should beat OU in Norman. But if they do, they are in and the Sooners are out.
3. Okie St at Texas (7:00pm)***(Projected W: Okie St)
Playing Texas is good for what ails ya, it seems. It was in Stillwater for Okie St, as well as every Tier One team not called West Virginia. Of course, this time, the game is in Austin, and Okie St resides in Tier 2. But then, so might Texas after this game.
4. TCU at Baylor (7:30pm). ** *(Projected W: BU)
TCU’s basketball team attempts to do what its football brethren couldn’t, which might have cost it a National Championship: Win in Waco. Although, this time, Baylor is actually better.
5. K-State at Texas Tech (8:00pm) ** (At-risk game)
K-State can’t afford to lose in Lubbock if it wants to retain even a sliver of a hope of participating in March Madness.