There has been a lot of talk recently about “fake news.” This concern is not a new one to those familiar with the REAL Standings, which, for years, has offered a REAL alternative to the Fake Basketball Standings in your local newspaper.
In fairness, it was probably not the intention of your daily paper to mislead Big 12 basketball fans as to the state of the conference race. But mislead they did, whether by intent or laziness, as evidenced every time a columnist, television or radio commentator, or casual fan over the water cooler has asserted that a 4-0 team that has played 3 home games and the four worst teams in the conference leads a 3-1 team that has played four of the conference’s best teams and won two of three on the Road.
The premise of the REAL Standings is that the 3-1 team in this scenario is actually in better shape in its quest for the conference championship than the undefeated team: that championships are won on the Road, not at Home; and with W’s over the best teams, not the worst.
Of utmost importance is winning every game at Hoe and beating the worst teams on the Road. The teams that do this will be in the race late into the season.
We begin the REAL Standings analysis by placing each team in its appropriate Tier. This is the only subjective aspect of the REAL Standings. All Tier One teams are projected to win their nine Home games and all Road games vs. teams at least two tiers lower. Games vs. teams one tier down are considered at risk games and projected as ½ W and ½ L.
KU: Duh! Even without Udunka a/k/a (with credit to Dave Armstrong) the Wizard of Az.
Baylor: Yes, you read that correctly. Baylor. They are currently rated No. 4 in the nation by the A.P and USA Today voters and No. 9 by KenPom. Yes, I hear you saying: “But their coach is Scott Something or Other. They can’t win the Big 12 with him screwing up who knows how many games, can they?” Corrrectamundo. However, as much as one might take this as incontrovertible, it is, nevertheless, subjective. The REAL Standings are a REAL meritocracy. And you can’t ignore No. 4 and No. 9 with W’s over Oregon, Louisville, and Michigan St. Until their merit is proven to be lacking in league play, they are legitimately positioned in Tier 1.
- West Virginia: No. 11 in the AP. No. 12 in the USA Today. No. 7 according to KenPom. Not to mention a W in a true Road game at Virginia.
As a general rule, the rest of the teams are relegated to Tier 2 or 3, with the latter being bottom feeders whose only purpose is to pad the other teams’ W-L record.
The problem this year is there are no clearly defined Tier 3 teams. Normally, prior to Big 12 play, there are one or two teams rated between 120-160 by KenPom. This year, the conference’s lowest rated team is Texas at No. 74. And they have enough nice young talent that Bill Self would make a run at winning the Big 12; and they have a good coach (though not, as Kent State’s coach offered after defeating Texas in Austin Tuesday night, “one of the best, if not the best,” in the country.) Although they are probably the only conference team that would have lost to Kent State at Home, they will likely turn into a tough out at Home as the year progresses and win a game or two it shouldn’t on the Road.
So we will start conference play with all seven of the non-Tier 1 teams assigned to Tier 2. In order of their KenPom ranking (not that it’s flawless, but it appears reasonable at this point), they are:
- Texas Tech (No. 27)
- Iowa State. (No. 30)
- Kansas State (No. 31)
- Oklahoma St (No. 33)
- TCU (No. 37)
- Oklahoma (No. 54)
- Texas (No. 74)
- Baylor: Projected L’s (at WVU, at KU)
- At risk games (at OU, at K-State, at TCU, at OSU, at Tech, at ISU, at UT).
- KU: Projected L’s (at WVU, at BU)
- At risk games (at TCU, at OU, at ISU, at K-State, at Tech, at UT, at OSU)
- WVU: Projected L’s (at KU, at BU)
- At risk games (at OSU, at Tech, at UT, at K-State, at ISU, at OU, at TCU)
- ISU: Projected L’s (at BU, at OSU, at TCU, at OU, at KU, at UT, at K-State, at Tech, at WVU).
- At risk games (vs. KU, vs. WVU, vs. BU)
- K-State: Projected L’s (at KU, at Tech, at OSU, at ISU, at BU, at WVU, at UT, at OU, at TCU)
- At risk games (vs. BU, WVU, KU)
- OU: Projected L’s (at TCU, at K-State, at WVU, at UT, at Tech, at ISU, at OSU, at BU, at KU)
- At risk games (vs. BU, vs. KU, vs. WVU)
- Okie State: Projected L’s (at UT, at BU, at KU, at Tech, at OU, at WVU, at TCU, at K-State, at ISU).
- At risk games (vs. WVU, vs. BU, vs. KU)
- TCU: Projected L’s (at WVU, at UT, at Tech, at OSU, at K-State, at BU, at ISU, at KU, at OU
- At risk games: (vs. KU, vs, BU, vs. WVU)
- Texas Tech: Projected L’s (at ISU, at KU, at OU, at BU, at UT, at TCU, at WVU, at OSU, at K-State)
- At risk games (vs. WVU, vs. KU, vs. BU)
- UT: Projected L’s (at K-State, at ISU, at BU, at KU, at TCU, at OSU, at OU, at WVU, at Tech).
- At risk games (vs. WVU, vs. KU, vs. BU)
AS SEEN ON TV
3:00p.m.: West Virginia at Okie St (ESPN 2)**** (At-risk game): The three Tier 1 teams all start conference play on the Road, which could give us an early indication as to who is serious about winning the Big 12 title.
5:00p.m.: Texas Tech at Iowa St (ESPN News)***(Projected W: ISU): Are the Red Raiders REALly on the way up? Or is Iowa St on the way down?
6:00p.m.: Baylor at Oklahoma (ESPN2) **** (At risk game): Lon Kruger vs. Scott Something or Other? If Baylor is for REAL, this is a REAL chance to prove it.
7:00p.m. Texas at K-State (ESPN News) ***1/2 (Projected W: K-State): Neither team has much to hang its hat on from the non-conference portion of the schedule. Early as it is, K-State is in an almost must-win situation if it hopes to participate in March Madness.
8:00p.m. KU at TCU (ESPN2) **** (At-risk game): Welcome to the Big 12, Jamie. Could be worse. It could be in Lawrence.