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Big 12 Basketball Standings and Projections: Feb 14 - 20

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Make sure also to check out Big 12 Outlook over at Bring on the Cats.

With Texas and Kansas both notching undefeated weeks, the race for the Big 12 title remains a two team one. Just below them, Missouri, Baylor, and Texas A&M all appear to be trending upward and should all land NCAA tournament bids. If there is to be a sixth team from the Big 12, that team is currently stuck among at least three other clubs in the middle of the Big 12 standings.

As terrible as their conference records appear, Colorado (5-6), Kansas State (4-6), Oklahoma State (4-6), and even Nebraska (4-6) are all still alive for at-large consideration. However, to get to the Dance, any one of them will need to finish strong and probably notch a signature win. Colorado gets a chance when they host Texas. Kansas State would be wise to defeat Kansas and Missouri in Manhattan. In most other years, OSU would not even be close to the NCAA discussion. But the bubble is really weak, and the Cowboys have lots of shots remaining (at Texas, vs A&M, at Kansas, and vs. Baylor) to inch closer. The Cornhuskers could also land multiple blows as Texas, Kansas State, and Missouri all visit Lincoln over the next three weeks.

I am not a believer in any of these four teams. I’m just pointing out that opportunity still exists.

Thanks to two road wins by the Aggies, Texas A&M moves back into Tier I after a one week slide to Tier II. The rest of the assignments remain the same: Tier I--Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas A&M; Tier II--Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State; Tier III—Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Iowa State.

Last week, there were 10 total conference games. The tier system projected winners in eight of those contests and went a solid 7-1. The only miss was A&M over Colorado in Boulder.

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

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

10 - 0

15 – 1

@ Colorado, @ Baylor
2. Kansas

9 - 1

13.5 – 2.5

@ Kansas St @ Missouri
3. Missouri

5 - 5

10.5 – 5.5

@ Kansas St
4. Texas A&M

6 - 4

10 – 6

@Oklahoma State, @ Baylor @ Kansas
5. Baylor

6 - 5

8 – 8

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

5 - 6

7.5 – 8.5

@ Tx Tech, vs. Texas, @ Iowa St @ Kansas
6. Kansas St

4 - 6

7.5 – 8.5

vs. Kansas, @ Nebraska, vs. Missouri @ Texas
8. Oklahoma St

4 - 6

6.5 – 9.5

vs. A&M, @ Nebraska, @ OU @ Texas, @ Kansas
9. Oklahoma

4 - 6

5.5 – 10.5

vs. Oklahoma St @ K St, @ A&M, vs, Kansas, @ Tech
10. Texas Tech

3 - 7

4.5 – 11.5

vs. Colorado @ Missouri, @ Baylor, @ OSU, @ A&M
11. Nebraska

4 - 6

4.5 – 11.5

vs. Kansas St @ OU, vs. Texas, @ Iowa State, vs, Missouri, @ Colorado
12. Iowa State

1 - 9

2.5 – 13.5

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

Biggest Surprise from Last Week: Two road wins by A&M. I thought Texas A&M could win in Lubbock but was surprised to see them win in Boulder. If it wasn’t for a buzzer beating 25 ft three-pointer by BJ Holmes to force overtime, I would have been correct. Give Mark Turgeon credit, though. After a tough five game stretch, which included two blow-outs losses to Texas and a home loss to Baylor, A&M was just 4-4 in the Big 12 and looking toward danger zone as it relates to the NCAA tournament. Now with two road wins and a favorable schedule the rest of the way, the Aggies should reach 10-6 and be in great shape for the NCAA tournament.

Team with Most Favorable Schedule: Missouri. I’ve held Mizzou as a Tier I team for the first five weeks of conference play, despite their inability to win even a single game outside of Columbia. Missouri is 5-0 at home and 0-5 on the road in the Big 12. That habit has to break to stay in Tier I and to ensure an NCAA tournament berth. The Tigers have their best chance for a 2-0 week and their first road win this week as Missouri hosts Texas Tech on Tuesday and travels to Iowa State on Saturday. Mike Anderson’s club has no chance to get to 10-6 if they don’t sweep those two.

Team with Least Favorable Schedule: Texas Tech.. The Red Raiders started conference play by dropping their first four. However, they responded by winning their next three and had some people taking notice. The Big 12 schedule has been unkind since—vs. Kansas, at Texas, and vs. A&M. Predictably, Tech dropped all three and is staring at two more losses with trips to Missouri and Baylor this week. If Tech doesn’t defeat OU at home in early March, they’ll likely end the season on a nine game losing streak.

Toss-Up Games:

Kansas at Kansas State (Monday) This is a toss-up game in name only. The foul-happy, turnover-prone, and self destructive Wildcats may have had their slight NCAA tournament hopes completely extinguished when refs waived off Rodney McGruder’s would-have-been game-winning three-pointer in Boulder. On the other side, since the home loss to Texas, Kansas has played outstanding basketball, especially on the offensive end, and Jayhawk fans would like nothing more than to seal K State’s fate to the NIT. I think they do just that--KU rolls in Manhattan.

Upset Pick: A&M over Oklahoma State in Stillwater Nebraska should give the Longhorns a game in Lincoln, but I’ll take the resurgent Aggies to get to 8-4. OSU will get a second dose of embarrassment from the Longhorns on Wednesday. Meanwhile A&M will mostly likely be riding a three game winning streak, if they can handle Iowa State. Two teams heading in opposite directions for sure.

Post-season Outlook: Kansas (RPI 1, Pomeroy 2) and Texas (RPI 8, Pomeroy 4) are NCAA locks at this point. Missouri (RPI 29, Pomeroy 20) and Texas A&M (RPI 30, Pomeroy 41) look to be in good position. Baylor (RPI 68, Pomeroy 49) would be in as well if the season ended today, thanks largely to the weakness of the bubble. I still think there will be room for a sixth Big 12 team if someone can get hot and escape the middle of the pack log jam. (RealTimeRPI, KenPom)