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Big 12 Standings and Projections, February 28 - March 6

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Well, that was fast. And painful. Just two plus weeks ago, Texas held a two game lead in the Big 12 conference with only five games left. Longhorn fans were looking for hotel rooms in San Antonio and checking their vacation accruals for a long weekend in Houston. What a difference a few games make?

The Longhorns have coughed up their two game lead and now sit tied atop the standings at 12-2 with Kansas. Texas closes with Kansas State and Baylor. Kansas closes with Texas A&M and Missouri. I’d say, slight advantage to Kansas but a split title is the most likely scenario.

Yes, Texas did defeat Kansas in the only match-up between the two teams and would hold the tiebreaker, but the tiebreaker only relates to seeding in the Big 12 tournament. If the two teams finish with same record, they would be co-champions and both teams would be awarded a trophy.

As far as seeding in the NCAA tournament, Texas has gone from a sure-fire No. 1 seed and a probable protected seed in the San Antonio region to a likely No. 2 seed and the chance to be shipped just about anywhere, should the ‘Horns make it to the second weekend. On the other hand, with the losses by Duke, Texas, and Pittsburgh, Kansas appears to be two more regular season wins away from locking up a top seed.

As far as seeding in the Big 12 tournament, Texas and Kansas have locked up the top two seeds in some order, leaving two more spots for teams to earn first round byes. Texas A&M should pick up the No. 3 seed with a win over Texas Tech to end the season. The Aggies would have the tiebreaker over Kansas State or Missouri should either of those teams finish with the same record as A&M does. The final first round bye will go to either Missouri or Kansas State. If either team wins out, they’ll finish at 10-6 and wrap up fourth place. If they both finish at 9-7, Baylor and / or Colorado could also reach the same mark. I haven’t worked out the possible three or four team tiebreaker rules should that happen.

A look at the Big 12 bubble teams and the week ahead after the jump…

Big 12 Bubble Teams

Last week, we thought Kansas State, Colorado, Baylor, and Nebraska were still alive for at-large consideration. One week later, that group is down to three. Nebraska slipped to 6-8 in the Big 12 with back to back losses. Unless the Huskers can bounce back to win their final two and win at least two games in the Big 12 tourney, Nebraska will be NIT bound.

Kansas State has risen from the dead. The Wildcats have won four straight and have moved from the bubble to a highly probable, near certain NCAA tournament team. K State can improve its NCAA stock even more if they were to defeat Texas in Austin this evening. Frank Martin’s club ends the season with Iowa State and will finish no worse than 9-7.

As was mentioned last week, Colorado is far from done. The Buffs took care of business in Lubbock and then grabbed a signature win on Saturday. Colorado is still just 7-7 in the conference and has work to do, but they are in a much better position than they were this time last week. CU still must win at Iowa State and defeat Nebraska to have any shot at the NCAA tournament.

Baylor lost at Missouri in their mid-week game but stayed alive for another week by completing a season sweep of Texas A&M. The Bears end the season at Oklahoma State and versus Texas. Two wins this week plus a win in Kansas City and Baylor should sneak into the tournament.

Going into the final week of the regular season, we make one more change to the tier assignments. Nebraska drops back to Tier III after dropping a home game to Kansas State and a road game to Iowa State. The rest of the assignments remain the same: Tier I--Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, and Missouri; Tier II--Kansas State, Baylor, and Colorado; Tier III—Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Iowa State.

Last week, there were 12 total conference games. The tier system projected winners in only seven of those contests but went a solid 6-1. In the toss-up games, Colorado won at Texas Tech; Texas fell apart in Boulder; Baylor defeated A&M in Waco; Kansas State continued their roll with a win over Missouri; and Iowa State notched only their second win of the season with an overtime decision over Nebraska.

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

12 - 2

13.5 – 2.5

@ Baylor
1. Kansas

12 - 2

13 – 3

@ Missouri
3. Texas A&M

9 - 5

10 – 6

@ Kansas
4. Missouri

8 - 6

10 – 6

4. Kansas St

8 - 6

9 – 7

@ Texas
6. Colorado

7 - 7

8.5 – 7.5

@ Iowa St
6. Baylor

7 - 7

8 – 8

@ Ok State, vs. Texas
8. Nebraska

6 - 8

6 – 10

vs. Missouri, @ Colorado
9. Oklahoma St

5 - 9

5.5 – 10.5

vs. Baylor @ OU
10. Texas Tech

4 - 10

5 – 11

@ A&M
10. Oklahoma

4 - 10

5 – 11

@ Tech
12. Iowa State

2 - 12

2.5 – 13.5

vs. Colorado @ Kansas St

Biggest Surprise from Last Week: Colorado’s second half dominance over Texas. A tough game was expected but no one saw the second half beat down coming. The Texas defense was not its dominant self in the first half, but the defense completely disappeared over the final 20 minutes. CU scored 58 points in the second half and easily would have eclipsed 60 had they shot their average from the free throw stripe. For perspective, consider that Texas had previously held 16 opponents to 58 or fewer points for the entire game.

Team with Most Favorable Schedule: Missouri, sort of. Last year, I held Texas in Tier I for way too long. This year I may have made the same mistake with the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou is a pedestrian 8-6 in the conference, including a terrible 1-6 on the road. Tier I teams should split their road tilts while protecting their home court at all times. The Tigers simply haven’t done that and are probably a Tier II team. However, I’ve propped them up all season, and this week will prove me right or wrong. Missouri travels to Nebraska on Tuesday and then hosts Kansas on Saturday. As a Tier I team, both games are projected wins. If Missouri was a Tier II team, they would both be toss-ups. We’ll see…

Team with Least Favorable Schedule: Nebraska. After defeating Texas two Saturdays ago, Cornhuskers players and fans probably drifted off to sleep dreaming of an NCAA bid. Well, after an 0-2 week, that dream is now a nightmare and Nebraska hasn’t yet woken up. The Huskers close the season with Missouri in Lincoln and then Colorado in Boulder. A four game losing streak to end the season should be expected.

Toss-Up Games:

Baylor at Oklahoma State (Tuesday) Baylor didn’t accomplish as much last week as did fellow bubble teams, Kansas State and Colorado. However, this is the week when Scott Drew’s club gets its opportunity. The Bears are just 2-5 in Big 12 road games but this should be one they can handle. If Baylor plays any defense at all, they’ll roll into Saturday night’s game with Texas with a ninth conference win and an at-large NCAA bid within their grasp.

Colorado at Iowa State (Wednesday) The defeat of Texas certainly increased the Buffs chances of dancing but that was one game and there is still work to be done. Colorado’s non-conference strength of schedule and some bad losses make a sweep of Iowa State and Nebraska and nine total conference wins a necessity. I think CU gets there and finishes the conference season as hot as they started it.

Texas at Baylor (Saturday) In my pre-season schedule preview, I wrote that the goal of this team in conference was to get to 10 total wins. After an 11-0 start, that goal was easily surpassed. However, I also wrote that the end of the season would be rough and that Texas better have reached that 10 win mark before their final three games. We just saw what happened in Boulder, and K State tonight will be no easier. This was a predicted loss to start the season, and unless I see a different Texas team against the Wildcats, this is still a predicted loss.

Upset Pick: Kansas over Missouri in Columbia. As I discussed above, I’m not so sure that Missouri is slotted in the right tier. Therefore, this is the easy upset pick. Kansas finishes the season strong and makes a legitimate claim to a No. 1 seed.

Post-season Outlook: Kansas (RPI 1, Pomeroy 3) and Texas (RPI 9, Pomeroy 4) are NCAA locks at this point. Missouri (RPI 30, Pomeroy 24) and Texas A&M (RPI 26, Pomeroy 43) are near locks. Kansas State (RPI 27, Pomeroy 35) is in good position. Colorado (RPI 85, Pomeroy 59) and Baylor (RPI 84, Pomeroy 61) improved their stock but must keep winning. Nebraska is done. (RealTimeRPI, KenPom)

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