MIDWEEK ACTION IN REVIEW
Now that Title No. 13 is in the books (for some reason, they don’t put the REAL Standings’ Projections in the “books”), It is time for the inevitable nay-saying articles, columns, commentary, and blog entries.
You know the ones: “They only did it because they were in the Big 12.”
“They couldn’t have done that in the ACC.”
“They couldn’t have done that in the Big East.”
“They couldn’t have done that in (the B1G or the Pac 12).”
And you know what? They are probably right.
There is no way KU could have won or shared the last 13 ACC titles. Not with both Duke and UNC to contend with, both of whom have won two National Championships during that time.
Nor could the Jayhawks have done it in the REAL weak sister of college basketball, the SEC. Not with Florida’s back to back National Championship teams, Kentucky’s 2012 that defeated the Jayhawks in the National Championship game, and certainly not against UK’s team that took a 38-0 record to the Final Four.
It is also unlikely that KU could have accomplished this feat in the Big East or Pac 12. Or, dare I say, the MVC that included some dominant Wichita St teams or the West Coast Conference and Gonzaga.
Or even the Big 12, notwithstanding the fact that it REALly happened.
Conceding this, however, does not diminish the Jayhawks’ accomplishment one whit. This is because it answers the wrong question. In fact, it has the question backwards.
The REAL question is not, “Would (or could) KU have won any other conference 13 straight times?”
The REAL question is “What other team would (or could) have won or tied for the Big 12 Title every year from 2005-17?”
You can’t name one, because there are not any:
· Duke? They have won 2 conference titles from 2005-16 (’06 and ’10). They have also had 6 second place finishes. If you say they might have won the Big 12 in their second place years, what do you do with their 6th place finish and 8-8 conference record in 2007? (You know, when Texas was third place in the Big 12 with Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, and Damion James?) Or 5th place in the ACC in 2016 at 11-7?
· UNC? They have an impressive seven conference championships from 2005-16. They also have a second, third, and fifth place finish. But what can you say about a 10th place finish at 5-11 in 2009-10?
· Kentucky? Four SEC East Division titles from 2005-16, accompanied by third and fourth place finishes at 9-7 in 2005-06 and 2006-07, as well as fourth place in ’08-’09 at 8-8. And, although Calipari has led them to one Division and two conference championships in his seven years at UK, he has also garnered one second place Division finish and has three times been runner-up since the Division forma was abandoned.
No other program even comes close being be in this conversation.
But one team did it. REALly.
In case I didn’t mention it, KU was Projected to defeat TCU at Home and did so. Ergo, no change in either team’s REAL record. But everyone else hoping to win the Big 12 Title outright, is now out of time.
One other Midweek game that made a REAL difference, standings-wise, came in Lubbock, where Iowa St became the only conference team not named KU to down Texas Tech at the only arena in the conference named after a grocery store. Coupled with the Cyclones being the only team to defeat KU in Lawrence, their battlefield promotion could not be denied. Their change in status also moves them ahead of Baylor and West Virginia in the race for second place.
As for the other teams still clinging to the dream of at least sharing the 2017 title with the Jayhawks, West Virginia’s Home win over Texas, as projected, resulted in no change in their REAL Record. Nor did Baylor’s Projected win at Home over Oklahoma.
Finally, Okie St picked up a REAL game with its victory in a Projected Loss game at K-State. If the conference season were beginning tomorrow, the Cowboys would be assigned a slot in Tier One. At this point, they might be, in REALity, the second-best team in the league regardless of record.
K-State, on the other hand, dropped a full game in the REAL Standings, moving a game closer to the NIT and a possibe coaching search.
KU, Baylor, Iowa St, West Virginia
K-State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech,
Projected L’s: N.A.
At risk games (at UT, at OSU)
Projected L’s (at WVU)
At risk games: N.A.
Projected L’s: (at ISU)
At risk games (at UT)
Projected L’s (at BU)
At risk games (at TCU)
Okie State (8-7)
Projected L’s (at K-State, at ISU)
At risk games (vs. KU)
Projected L’s (at OU)
At risk games: (vs. WVU)
Projected L’s (at OU, at TCU)
At risk games: N.A
Projected L’s (at OSU, at K-State)
At risk games: N.A.
Projected L’s (at Tech)
At risk games (vs. KU, vs. BU
Projected L’s (at KU)
At risk games: N.A.
AS SEEN ON TV
1. West Virginia at TCU (1:00pm) (ESPN) (At-risk game) ***1/2
TCU is much improved this season, but the grind of the double round robin schedule appears to be getting to them. They need to dig down deep and pick up this at-risk win to stay alive for an 8-10 record, which might well be the minimum record to qualify for the Big Dance.
2. Texas Tech at Okie St (1:00p.m.) (ESPNU) (Projected W: Okie St) ***
After its would-be game-winning shot vs. Iowa St was a half second late, dropping their Projected record to 6-12, Tech has to pick up that game somewhere plus another one to reach the critical 8-10 mark. Which means two straight Road wins here and at K-State for a team without a Road win on the season.
3. Baylor at Iowa St (3:00p.m.) (ESPN) (Projected W: ISU) *****
Iowa St did everything but beat Baylor in Waco. Can they finish the job at Hilton? The Cyclones are better now. Baylor does not appear to be. (Your guess as to why is as good as mine. And probably the same)
4. K-State at OU (5:00p.m.) (ESPNU) (Projected W: OU) ***
When is a Projected Loss game on the Road a Must Win? For K-State, it is this Saturday in Norman.
5. KU at Texas (5:00p.m.) (ESPN) (at-risk game) ***1/2
Texas has played tough at Home this year. It should be a boisterous crowd (much of it Rocking and Chalking), and Shaka, if he’s Smart, will have his team fired up at the chance of taking down the back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back Big 12 champions.