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Big 12 Basketball Standings and Projections: Jan 24 - 30

Through four games, Rick Barnes has the 'Horns atop the Big 12 conference race.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Through four games, Rick Barnes has the 'Horns atop the Big 12 conference race. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Big 12 conference race is only two weeks old, and we already left with a single undefeated team, Texas. The Longhorns turned a projected loss into a victory and gained a full game in the projected standings. Texas now stands alone in first place in the actual standings and is projected to win the league based on tier projections as well.

Last week, there were 12 total conference games. The tier system projected winners in nine of those contests and went a solid 8-1. That’s right, ‘Horns’ fans, the Longhorns’ victory in Lawrence was the only game the tier system picked incorrectly. In the toss-up games: Kansas won at Baylor, Nebraska held serve at home against Colorado, and OU completed a 2-0 week with a win over Colorado on Saturday.

Without any real shake-ups, the assignment of teams to tiers stays the same. Tier I is Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, and Missouri. Tier II is Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Colorado. Tier III is Iowa State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.

After the jump, a closer look at the tier system, the projected standings, and the week ahead… 

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

4 - 0

13.5 – 2.5

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

3 - 1

12.5 – 3.5

@ Baylor, @ Colorado, @ Kansas St @ Missouri
2. Texas A&M

4 - 1

12.5 – 3.5

@ Colorado, @OSU, @ Baylor @ Kansas
4. Missouri

3 - 2

11 – 5

@ Ok State; @ Kansas St @ Texas, @ Kansas
5. Colorado

3 – 2

8.5 – 7.5

vs Kansas, vs A&M, @ Tx Tech, vs. Texas, @ Iowa St @ Baylor, @ Missouri, @ Kansas
6. Oklahoma St

2 - 3

8 – 8

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

3 - 2

7.5 – 8.5

@ OU, vs A&M, vs. Texas @ K St, @ A&M, @ Texas, @ Missouri, @ Ok St
8. Kansas St

1 - 4

7 – 9

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

1 - 4

5 – 11

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

2 - 3

4 – 12

vs. Baylor, vs. Ok State @ Iowa St, @ Ok St, vs. Texas, @ Missouri, @ K St, @ A&M, vs, Kansas, @ Tech
11. Texas Tech

1 - 4

3 – 13

vs. OSU, vs. Colorado @ Iowa St, vs Kansas, @ Texas, vs. A&M, @ Missouri, @ Baylor, @ OSU, @ A&M
11. Nebraska

2 - 3

3 – 13

vs. Ok St, vs, K St vs A&M, @ K St, vs Kansas, @ Baylor, @ OU, vs Texas @ Iowa St, vs Missouri, @ Colorado

Biggest Surprise from Last Week: Texas over Kansas, doh. Even those of us who wear the glasses with the darkest tint of burnt orange weren’t predicting a Texas victory in Lawrence. For the Longhorns, this wasmaybe the biggest regular season victory in the program’s history, and places the ‘Horns as favorites in the Big 12 conference and among those teams seeking protected seeds in the NCAA tournament. For the Jayhawks, the road to a Big 12 title just got a lot steeper. However, the conference season is merely a fourth of the way, and KU is likely to be in the title hunt till the final weekend. In order to get there, Bill Self needs more production from freshman Josh Selby. When Selby is a threat to score, KU, like Texas, has too many offensive weapons. When Selby goes 2-for-9 and is barely a factor in a game, too much of the offensive load is thrust upon the Brothers Morris, and KU’s offense becomes defendable.

Team with Most Favorable Schedule This Week: Iowa State. Weird, right? Given the current tier make-up, only the Cyclones have two projected wins, thanks to two home games (Tech and OU). With an absolutely brutal run coming in early February (@ Kansas, @ A&M, vs. Missouri, @ Texas), now is the only time Fred Hoiberg’s club can find a rhythm this season.

Team with Least Favorable Schedule This Week: Colorado.. The Buffs may have faded as quickly as they emerged. Colorado started the year on fire with victories over Missouri, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State, but fell flat last week by dropping both their toss-up games (@ Nebraska and @ OU). Even a split would have made me a believer but now at 3-2, I don’t like their chances to make the NCAA tournament. That said, they have two huge chances to improve their resume this week. The Buffs host Kansas on Tuesday night and then play at Baylor on Saturday. A split and they stay alive for the post-season; two more losses and they’re officially gone from the conversation.

Toss-Up Games:

Kansas at Colorado (Tuesday) As just mentioned, this is huge for Colorado but it’s also big for Kansas. The Jayhawks are already one full game behind the Longhorns in the projected standings and can’t afford to fall further back. The Colorado guards, Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, are as good, if not better, than the KU guards and should be able to score enough to give CU a chance. I’ll take Kansas in a tight one, though.

Texas at Oklahoma State (Wednesday) With the win at Kansas, Texas is now #5 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. That move coupled with Ok State getting drilled in Waco on Saturday, has Pomeroy’s numbers projecting a nine point Texas win in Stillwater. I’d take it and actually like our chances in this one. The Cowboys have dropped three of their last four, don’t match-up size wise well with the ‘Horns, and field no dangerous scorers. If the Texas D shows up, this one will be all Longhorns.

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (Saturday) Texas Tech is horrible. However, the Red Raiders somehow took down a decent Nebraska team in Lubbock on Saturday. If Ok State gets rolled on Wednesday, I won’t be shocked if Tech takes down another team they have no business defeating.

Upset Pick: Baylor over Kansas State in Manhattan. There really aren’t too many games that I like this week, so this pick is not a strong one. The Wildcats are nowhere near as bad as their 1-4 conference marks indicates, while Baylor has started to show some bipolar tendencies. The Bears look like a talented team one game; then the next game, they appear to be five guys who were just introduced and are playing pick-up ball without any interested in playing defense. This should be a good one. A loss for the Wildcats would be the nail in the coffin, while stealing one in Manhattan could catapult Scott Drew’s club into Tier I.

Post-season Outlook: Kansas (RPI 1, Pomeroy 3), Texas (RPI 15, Pomeroy 5), Missouri (RPI, 29, Pomeroy 17), and Texas A&M (RPI 16, Pomeroy 31) are NCAA locks at this point. Everybody else has work to do, with Kansas State and Oklahoma State the closest to the NCAA tournament. (,