Big 12 Basketball Standings and Projections: Jan 31 - Feb 6

Another week behind us and the Texas Longhorns still sit alone at the top of the Big 12 conference standings. As the lone undefeated team, Texas has a game lead in the real standings but only a half game lead in the projected standings. Even after tough weeks, Texas A&M and Missouri join the two conference favorites in Tier I. That said, a Texas victory on Monday night in College Station would realistically make this a two team race.

For the first time this season, the tiers get a shake-up. The top tier remains the same but Nebraska slides up to Tier II, and Oklahoma State falls into Tier III. The Cornhuskers are 3-0 at home in conference games but 0-3 away from Lincoln. This week, Nebraska draws Kansas State in Manhattan and then hosts Kansas on Saturday. If the Huskers drop both, I may reevaluate this move next Sunday, but a hunch tells me they split this week and confirm the move to the second tier.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State has lost their last three and five of their last six. The Cowboys lack a scoring guard, are undersized on the frontline, and can’t stop fouling (or in Travis Ford’s case, complaining about the whistles). OSU does have a chance to steady the ship this week with home games against Missouri and Oklahoma. We’ll see.

Last week, there were 10 total conference games. The tier system projected winners in seven of those contests and went a mediocre 4-3, mostly thanks to Iowa State losing both its home games. In the toss-up games: Kansas survived in Boulder, Texas smothered Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and Texas Tech clipped OSU in overtime.

After the jump, a look at the week ahead and the new projected standings…

With the reassignments of Oklahoma State and Nebraska, the tiers now looks like this: Tier I--Texas, Kansas, A&M, and Missouri; Tier II--Baylor, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas State; Tier III—Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Iowa State.

As a reminder, this is how the tier system works and projects games:

Tier I

Projected Wins: All home games, & 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.

Given the above placements, here is how the Big 12 conference is expected to play out. The table is sorted by Projected Record.

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

6 - 0

13.5 – 2.5

@ Nebraska, @ Colorado, @ Baylor @ A&M
2. Kansas

5 - 1

13 – 3

@ Nebraska, @ Kansas St @ Missouri
3. Texas A&M

4 - 2

12 – 4

@ Colorado, @ Baylor @ Kansas
4. Missouri

3 - 3

11 – 5

@ Kansas St, @ Nebraska @ Kansas
5. Baylor

4 - 3

8 – 8

@ OU, vs A&M, @ Ok State, vs. Texas @ A&M, @ Texas, @ Missouri
5. Colorado

3 - 4

8 – 8

vs A&M, @ Tx Tech, vs. Texas, @ Iowa St @ Missouri, @ Kansas
7. Nebraska

2 - 3

7.5 – 8.5

vs. Kansas, @ OU, vs. Texas, @ Iowa St, vs, Missouri @ K St, @ Baylor, @ Colorado
8. Kansas St

2 - 5

6.5 – 9.5

@ Iowa St, vs. Kansas, vs. Missouri @ Colorado, @ Neb, @ Texas
9. Oklahoma

3 - 3

5 – 11

vs. Baylor, vs. Nebraska @ Ok St, vs. Texas, @ Missouri, @ K St, @ A&M, vs, Kansas, @ Tech
10. Oklahoma St

2 - 5

4.5 – 11.5

vs. Baylor vs. Missouri, @ Neb, @ Texas, vs. A&M, @ Kansas, @ OU
10. Texas Tech

3 - 4

4.5 – 11.5

vs. Colorado vs Kansas, @ Texas, vs. A&M, @ Missouri, @ Baylor, @ OSU, @ A&M
12. Iowa State

1 - 6

2.5 – 13.5

vs. Kansas St, vs. Nebraska, vs. Colorado @ Colorado, @ Kansas, @ A&M, vs Missouri, @ Texas, @ Kansas St

Biggest Surprise from Last Week: Nebraska over A&M. The Aggies played just one game last week and presumably flew to Lincoln rested and healthy. For 20 minutes, it looked like the Aggies would roll into their Big Monday showdown with Texas at 5-1 in Big 12 play and still in the conference title hunt. Then, the second half happened. A&M quickly gave away their seven point halftime lead thanks to cold shooting and turnovers. On the whole, it was the Aggies’ least efficient offensive performance of the season, and now A&M faces the best defensive team in the country on short rest.

Team with Most Favorable Schedule: Missouri. Mike Anderson’s club has two projected wins in the week ahead. Missouri travels to Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Without solid guard play, it’s hard to see Ok State surviving the Missouri pressure. Next weekend, Missouri hosts another team headed in the wrong direction in Colorado. The Buffs started Big 12 play with three straight victories but are now riding a four game losing streak.

Team with Least Favorable Schedule: Baylor.. Over the last three weeks, the Bears have split their two games each week. In week one, they coasted past OU, only to fall flat in Ames. Next, they got drilled by Kansas in Waco but found their footing against Ok State. Then last week, in one of the ugliest basketball games I’ve ever seen, the Bears came up short at Kansas State on Monday but overcame a 17 point deficit to defeat Colorado on Saturday. This week could easily produce another one step forward and one step back dance. Baylor goes to an improving Oklahoma team on Tuesday and then to College Station on Saturday. I am not a fan of Scott Drew at all and think this team desperately misses Tweety Carter; however, a sweep of these two would put them on the path toward 10 wins and top four finish in the conference. Two losses and Baylor will have a difficult time getting to even nine wins.

Toss-Up Games:

Baylor at Oklahoma (Tuesday) As just mentioned above, this is a tough week for the Baylor, but I like this match-up for the Bears. The Anthony Jones, Perry Jones, Quincy Acy frontcourt should be able to control the glass and give Baylor a healthy advantage in second chance points. If Baylor plays any team defense at all, they should escape Norman.

Kansas at Nebraska (Saturday) The Huskers nearly upset KU in Lawrence just three weeks ago, and now that NU has moved up to Tier II, this is a toss-up game. Nebraska’s top 10 defense, their frontcourt size, and the home court crowd should lead to a close game. I’ll take Kansas by four points, though.

Kansas State at Iowa State (Saturday) The Cyclones just lost two straight at home against lesser competition and will probably lose mid-week at Colorado. I’ll take Frank Martin’s squad as they try to claw their way back into the NCAA tournament picture.

Upset Pick: Texas over A&M in College Station. This is definitely a homer pick and there are lots of reasons to simply chose A&M. First, Texas hasn’t won in College Station since 2004. Second, the Aggies are undefeated at Reed Arena this season. Third, the whistles that so aggravated Mark Turgeon in Austin will surely be swallowed in the rematch. Fourth, Texas probably has to revert to their mean at some point. Fifth, Texas will be playing its third game in six days plus having also traveled to and from Stillwater and then to College Station. All that being true, I’m still taking the Longhorns. Texas will enjoy a tremendous advantage at both guard spots. The Aggies guards can’t score and are too small to adequately check Cory Joseph, Dogus Balbay, or J’Covan Brown. Next, unless Tristan Thompson gets into foul trouble, Texas should also dominate the glass and have an advantage in second chance points. Finally, even if Texas does have an off night from the floor or struggle converting free throws, the Longhorn defense will be able to keep the ‘Horns in the game. I’ll take Texas in the upset 65-63.

Post-season Outlook: Kansas (RPI 1, Pomeroy 2), Texas (RPI 11, Pomeroy 4), Missouri (RPI 27, Pomeroy 22), and Texas A&M (RPI 17, Pomeroy 33) are NCAA locks at this point. Everybody else has work to do, with Baylor and Kansas State the closest to the NCAA tournament. (RealTimeRPI, KenPom)

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