Big XII Projected Standings by Tier

With just three weeks left in the regular season, the conference race is pretty clear: it’s Kansas and then everybody else. The Jayhawks stand three games clear at 10-0 and are in fantastic shape for another conference title. They do have three more road games and host Kansas State too, but anything shy of 14-2 and an outright title appears unlikely. Kansas is also the lone major conference team with a perfect conference mark and one of only a handful overall when you include non-major conferences.

For the third week in a row, we’ll take a look at the conference standings by adding what we project to happen to what has already occurred to get our best guess at each team’s final Big XII record.

A quick review:

Tier I
Projected Wins: All home games and road games against Tier III teams.
Toss-Ups: Road games against Tier II teams.
Projected Losses: Road games against Tier I teams.

Tier II
Projected Wins: Home games against Tier II and Tier II teams.
Toss-Ups: Home games against Tier I teams & road games against Tier III teams.
Projected Losses: Road games against Tier I and Tier II teams.

Tier III
Projected Wins: Home games against Tier III teams.
Toss-Ups: Home games against Tier II teams are toss-ups.
Projected Losses: All road games & home games against Tier I teams.

The Tiers get a shakeup this week. I’m adding Baylor to Tier I, along with Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri. Last week, the Bears won at Iowa State and tipped in a miss to defeat Missouri in Waco. An argument could be made that Missouri doesn’t deserve to remain in Tier I but for now they’ll stay. Either a home loss to the Longhorns on Wednesday or a road loss to Nebraska on Saturday will send them south this time next week. 

The Monday night loss to Kansas finally sent the Longhorns to a place that many of you probably already thought they were—Tier II. Along with Texas, Texas A&M, the second hottest team in the conference, and Oklahoma State also land in Tier II. An argument could also be made that the Aggies, winners of six of their last seven, deserve to be up a rung. They’ll get their chance to prove it on Monday night against KU.

Tier III is still crowded by the same five underachieving teams—Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Colorado, and Nebraska. The Red Raiders were upset at home on Saturday; OU’s season is in shambles (attitude, mono, and theft issues); Iowa State and Colorado have lost four straight; and Nebraska is in the midst of its own four game run of losses—all to ranked opponents.

For the week, the Tier system was 4-2. (Kansas over Texas and Tech over OU were the two surprises.)

Baylor was easily the big winner last week. The Bears won both their toss-up games, moved into Tier I, and now project to finish in the coveted top four spots. Speaking of the top four spots and first round byes in the conference tournament, it’s going to be a tight race. Kansas is obviously going to take one of those spots, and Kansas State’s favorable schedule almost locks up the second spot. The other two will come down to Missouri, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Texas. Only two of those four will earn Wednesday off when the Big XII tournament tips March 10th in Kansas City.

Team Actual Record Projected Record Toss Ups Projected Losses
1. Kansas

10 - 0

14 – 2

@ A&M; @ Ok State @ Missouri
2. Kansas State

7 - 3

12 – 4

@ Kansas
3. Baylor

6 - 4

11.5 – 4.5

@ Ok State
4. Missouri

6 - 4

11 – 5

@ Kansas St
5. Texas A&M

7 - 3

10.5 – 5.5

vs. Kansas; @ Iowa St; @ OU @ Baylor
6. Texas

6 - 4

8.5 – 7.5

@Tech @ Missouri; @ A&M; @ Baylor
7. Oklahoma State

5 - 5

7.5 – 8.5

@ Iowa St; vs. Baylor; vs. Kansas; @ Texas; @ A&M;
8. Colorado

2 - 8

5 – 11

@KU; @ Missouri; @ Nebraska
8. Texas Tech

4 - 6

5 – 11

vs. Texas; Baylor; @ Baylor; vs. Kansas St; @ Nebraska; @CU
10. Oklahoma

4 - 6

4.5 – 11.5

vs. A&M @ Colorado; vs. Kansas St; @ KU; vs. Baylor; @ Texas
11. Iowa State

2 - 8

4 – 12

vs. Ok State; vs. A&M; @ CU; vs. Missouri; @ KSU
12. Nebraska

1 - 9

3 – 13

@ KSU; vs. Missouri; @ Iowa State; @ Ok State

Thoughts on the week ahead after the jump.

Biggest Surprise from Last Week: Nothing really. The two teams that were reeling coming into the week, Texas and OU, were the two that were upset, according to the Tier system. Baylor took care of business and looks like a solid tourney team now. The Aggies won in Lubbock, but since I called that in this column last week, I don’t consider it a surprise.

Teams with Favorable Schedules: Kansas St, again. The Wildcats host the worst team in the conference in their mid-week game and only have to go to Norman on Saturday. Nebraska stands no chance in Manhattan, and without Willie Warren and probably without Tiny Gallon, the Sooners don’t stand much of a shot either. Frank Martin’s club has few roadblocks ahead to reach 12-4 and finish alone in second place.

Toss-Up Games:
Kansas at A&M (Monday) If the Jayhawks win, their game at Missouri on March 6th will be for a perfect 16-0 mark. A win by A&M, sends the Aggies into Tier I.

Oklahoma State at Iowa State (Wednesday) & Baylor @ Oklahoma State (Saturday) The Cowboys need to finish 8-8 in conference play to feel safe on Selection Sunday. At 5-5, that means they need to split their next six. With games at Texas, at A&M, and vs. Kansas remaining, these two are close to must wins.

Texas at Tech (Saturday) If the Longhorn team that played Nebraska travels to Lubbock, then this one will be no contest. However, if Texas gets beat on Wednesday and rolls into the South Plains without any confidence, look out.

A&M at Iowa State (Saturday) This one is lumped in between a visit by Kansas and a trip to Waco. The Aggies have handled their business well over the last month, but this is their tough stretch. If they continue to get to the free throw line, take care of the ball, and get solid contributions from Bryan Davis and Donald Sloan, then A&M will challenge for fourth in the conference and a first round tournament bye.

Upset Pick: Texas over Missouri in Columbia. Yes, this is a total homer pick and I’m not even sure I really believe it. However, I was at the Drum on Saturday and saw the Longhorns perform at the highest level. Second, I’m still not sure what to make of Missouri. Their overall resume is pedestrian outside of the home win over Kansas State. The key to this game will be turnovers. Missouri is tops in the country in steals and second in forcing turnovers. If J’Covan Brown continue his progression, goes for the smart pass over the spectacular one, and attacks the Missouri defense, I like our chances. On the other hand, if Texas rushes its offense, plays one-on-one basketball, or gets loose with the ball, then it will be another disappointing conference road trip.

Post-season Outlook: Kansas (RPI 1, Pomeroy 1), Kansas State (RPI 7, Pomeroy 9), Texas (RPI 22, Pomeroy 8), and Baylor (RPI 28, Pomeroy 16) are NCAA locks at this point. Texas A&M (RPI 20, Pomeroy 34) and Missouri (RPI 47, Pomeroy 14) would both be in safely if the season ended today too. As noted above, Oklahoma State (RPI 39, Pomeroy 53) needs three more wins to feel safe. (CollegeRPI.com, KenPom.com)

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