No changes in Tiers or REAL Standings this weekend, being the Saturday of the Big 12/SEC challenge.
The question, is: What did we learn from the ten games matching the two conferences?
Well, we learned the following:
1. It was fun. A bit of fun thrown into the middle of a long, draining, conference double round robin race of 18 games has to be a good thing, right?
2. It was a critical success. Everyone other than the coaches involved seemed to enjoy it. It gave the two conferences a day in the basketball sun, overshadowing every other conference and every other team in the country for at least one day. That has to be a good thing, right?
Blair Kerkhoff of the KC Star had his own list of pros and cons of playing these non-con games in the middle of conference in Monday’s paper. The only thing he got wrong was warning to be careful not to equate one successful day with long term success: his point was, in essence, what happens when the novelty wears off? He pointed out that the college football playoffs were wildly successful in Year One, but where were the viewers in Year Two?
Not the best analogy. Where the viewers were, Blair, was at New Year’s Eve parties and other events welcoming in 2016. The lesson to be learned here is simple: Don’t schedule future Big 12/SEC challenges on New Year’s Eve. The two conferences are smart enough to do that, right?
3. Speaking of college football, the absolute worst aspect of what is otherwise an awesome game, is the lack of inter-conference games between teams of all strength levels. There is no way to judge the relative strengths of the conferences during the regular season, which leads to a lot of guessing that results in teams being overrated because entire conferences are overrated: there is no way to set the record straight as long as teams are avoiding opponents who might inflict losses on them that can keep them out of the 4 team playoff or one of the 32 or so bowl games.
College basketball has been much better in this respect for years. There are a veritable plethora of early season tournaments and games on aircraft carriers where the strongest teams play each other, as do the middle and lower class teams.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these inter-conference games that serve as a litmus test of conference strength are played in November and December, before many teams have become the teams they REALly are by mid-season. A slate of games between power conferences in late January, with teams of varying strengths, is a much better gauge of actual conference strength when Selection Sunday arrives six weeks hence.
So hooray for that. Now let’s do something similar involving all five power conferences in football—including, e.g., Ohio St vs. Oklahoma and KU vs. Oregon St.
4. The Big 12 is a bitch of a conference for visiting teams. Of course, we already knew that. All five Big 12 Home teams came away from the weekend with W’s. Only two of the five that went on the Road can say the same: both hailing from the state that, according to UT legend, keeps Texas from falling into the Gulf of Mexico.
I have read or heard many times how Iowa St was so hot but failed in their quest to beat their third Top 5 time in two weeks. For some reason, no one I have been exposed to has pointed out that Texas A&M was the first team meeting that description that the Cyclones played away from Ames.
5. Is there a better worst team anywhere than TCU? The Horned Frogs took out Rick Barnes and Tennessee at Home.
6. Is there a better next to worst team anywhere than Texas Tech? The Red Raiders did everything but bear Arkansas in Fayetteville, falling by a Razorthin margin in O.T. to a pretty good Razorback team.
7. Are there two better next to worst to worst teams anywhere than Okie St and K-State? Okie St took out Auburn on the Road by double digits just days after K-State mopped the floor with the Cowboys in Manhattan.
8. If West Virginia, victims of the Big 12’s worst loss (at Florida), wants to be in the conference race to the end, they need Jonathan Holton unsuspended. Which will happen soon, according to a friend of mine, just before they play KU in Lawrence. And I have to say, my friend is one smart Cookie about such things.
9. Seven of the REAL Standings Projected Winners won, the exceptions being Tech, Iowa St, and West Virginia. (You could look it up.)
10. That’s all I’ve got, but who stops a list at 9.
AS SEEN ON TV
8:00p.m.: Texas at Baylor **** (Projected W: BU)
Is this the night Baylor comes crashing to earth?
But enough about their legal problems. UT is getting better as the season goes along. They are not going to win the conference title, but they are my pick to decide who does. Unless Okie St already did.
7:00p.m.: TCU at Oklahoma * (Projected W: OU)
Sorry, Frogs. This is not Tennessee at Home.
8:00p.m.: West Virginia at Iowa St *** (Projected W: ISU)
Normally, a game between two Tier 1 teams would receive a 4 Star rating. Add a Star if Holton plays.
8:00p.m.: K-State at KU ***1/2 (Projected W: KU)
Why a 3.5 Star rating with K-State’s starting PG listed as questionable? Bruce Weber has his team playing tough even with talent deficiencies up and down the lineup. And it will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks respond four days after surviving one of the wildest games and atmospheres in Allen Fieldhouse history. This game could easily make it to the under 8 minute T.O.
8:00p.m.: Okie St at Texas Tech *** (Projected W: Tech)
A nice match-up of Tier 2 teams. It would be well worth watching if scheduled at a different time.