In retrospect, perhaps it's not a good idea to dogpile after evening a series on Good Friday. Speaking of bad ju-ju, it may also be bad for a team's radio announcers to call the opposing team's cancer survivor "whiny." Whether it was karma or just good baseball, the Horns rallied on Saturday for a 14-3 victory in which Texas piled up 19 hits to raise their team batting average to .278 on the season. Erich Weiss led the way offensively with his second consecutive 4-6 day which was capped off by a two run homer in the top of the 9th. Weiss is now hitting .512 (!) in conference play, a solid average we'd like to see him strive to keep. Ricky Jacquez had a nice start for Texas, going 5.2 innings while giving up just two runs on four hits and striking out five. Dillon Peters got the game's critical out in the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs before John Curtiss finished things off with three innings of solid relief.
So here we sit, three/four weeks into the Big 12 season and it's looking more and more like the conference will send just three teams to the NCAA tournament. There are the haves (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M) and the have nots (everyone else) with no teams firmly in the middle. Before getting to our personal rankings, we'd like to note how tough it was to not rank Texas first. Consider these three mystery teams:
Team A: 7-2 in conference, all at home. Third in the conference through nine games in team batting, fourth in the conference in team pitching.
Team B: 12-0 in conference. Nine home games, three road games. Four opponents are the four worst teams in our power poll. First in the conference in team pitching, second in team hitting.
Team C: 7-2 in conference, all on the road. First in the conference in team hitting, third in team pitching.
Team A is A&M, Team B is Baylor and Team C is Texas. Our Big 12 standings based on the first nine conference games (but informed by the preconference schedule) after the jump.
- Baylor - The Bears haven't lost since a midweek loss to UT Arlington. Sweeping four consecutive teams, even if they are the conference's weakest, is an impressive feat and is enough to land Baylor at the top of our list. The Bears have played the nation's 41st hardest schedule but are a mere 2-3 against teams in Boyd's World's top 50. The schedule doesn't ever really toughen for Baylor, although the critical series against Texas A&M (2/3 home) and Texas (1/3 home) are coming up.
- Texas - It's easy to call us homers, but hear us out first. Both Texas and A&M are 7-2 in conference but the Horns haven't played at home while the Aggies haven't left it. Both have a sweep of Oklahoma. Texas has better hitting numbers (.333 team BA to .299) and slightly better pitching numbers (3.91 ERA to 3.96). But the Aggies are 24-6 overall while Texas is 17-12, you say. That's true, but let's examine each team's first 13 games where the Ags went 12-1 and the Horns were 6-7 (since then Texas is 11-5 and the Ags are 13-5, more or less the same). During that first part of the season, the Horns were 2-5 against teams in the top 50 of ISR while the Ags were 0-0. As a result, the Horns have a strength of schedule ranked fifth in the nation compared to number 80 for Texas A&M. Wouldn't Texas' record look a lot more like the Ags if they hadn't played a road series against the best team in the country? Wouldn't the Aggies have a worse record had they played Stanford, Rice and Arkansas in the season's first three weeks? It seems likely. We may be homers, but we're fact-based homers.
- Texas A&M - The Aggies do have the conference's best pitching rotation in Wacha, Stripling and Pineda, which is the benefit of having a senior, junior and sophomore starter. The Ags also have nice sweeps of Michigan State and Pepperdine on their resume, but dropped two of three to the only top 20 opponent they've seen (Cal State Fullerton at home). We think the Aggies are for real this season, but a midweek game against Rice, series against Baylor, midweek game against TCU and series against Texas awaits in two weeks.
- Oklahoma - The Sooners have series wins over Texas Tech and Kansas State (good) to go along with being swept by Texas and Texas A&M (bad). A home series against Baylor in the season's second to last weekend is pretty much the only remaining opportunity for OU to beat a quality opponent.
- Kansas Sate- All else being equal, we'll take KSU over Oklahoma State and Missouri on the strength of a better SoS and higher ISR. The Wildcats haven't been swept yet in conference play (good) but are just 3-6 overall. They've had the unfortunate distinction to also face three of the top four teams in conference already, so things are looking up!
- Missouri - The Tigers were close in all three games against Texas A&M (winning one) and have a series victory over Oklahoma State. They're the conference's fifth best hitting team and fifth best pitching team. Mediocre in every way. S-E-C! S-E-C!
- Oklahoma State - The Cowboys played Baylor tough and took the first two games from Kansas this weekend. Okie State has the distinction of having played the conference's weakest schedule so far, although their pitching ranks a relatively impressive second in the conference.
- Texas Tech - The Red Raiders were fortunate not to get swept by Texas but have good enough starting pitching to be a potentially dangerous opponent (the bullpen is a tad rough though). Eighth in hitting in conference play, seventh in pitching. It seems all of Tech's athletics programs have been harmonized at the same level of performance, so that's a thing.
- Kansas - The conference's worst record, worst ISR, worst hitting and second worst pitching. Series against A&M and Texas await in the next two weeks.