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Big 12 Basketball Standings and Projections: Feb 7 - 13

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As seen in Lawrence, Texas is playing like a true team game after game.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
As seen in Lawrence, Texas is playing like a true team game after game. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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With half of the Big 12 conference season complete, the raise for the title is clearly a two team race. Texas Longhorns stand alone atop the real standings at 8-0, with the Kansas Jayhawks a game back at 7-1. Then comes the great divide. The next four teams already have four conference losses and another four teams have five conference losses. Texas Tech at 3-6 and Iowa State at 1-8 round out the league.

The second half of the conference season will be more about who emerges among those eight middle-of-the-road teams than it will be about Texas and Kansas. The Longhorns and Jayhawks are locks for the NCAA tournament and will play the rest of the season for NCAA seeding, protected seeds, and a slot in the San Antonio regional.

Coming into this season, the Big 12 looked poised for six NCAA tournament bids among the expanded field of 68. Now, I’m not so sure. Kansas State and Baylor have failed to live up to their pre-season billings, Missouri is awful away from Colombia, and Texas A&M’s early season success, against incredibly weak competition, appears to be a mirage. All four of those teams should be shooting for 10-6 to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. Anything less and an ESPN camera crew is probably headed their way to film their exhilaration or disappointment.

The tier system gets another shake-up this week. Last week, I moved Nebraska up to Tier II and Oklahoma State down to Tier III. Both teams now return to their previously slotted tiers. The Cornhuskers fell flat at Kansas State on Wednesday night and were worked on Saturday in Lincoln by the Jayhawks. Meanwhile, despite an offense lacking true scorers, the Cowboys took down Missouri and Oklahoma over the past week.

I’m also moving Texas A&M down to Tier II. After starting conference play 3-0, the Aggies have lost four of their last five, including two homes games last week. If you can’t protect your home court, then you can’t be a Tier I team. Last, Missouri deserves consideration for Tier II after falling in Stillwater but stays toward the top, for now.

Last week, there were 12 total conference games. The tier system projected winners in nine of those contests and went a decent 6-3. Two of those misses are charged to the Aggies. In the toss-up games: OU took down Baylor in Norman in a postponed game from Tuesday night, Kansas dominated Nebraska despite being without the services of Josh Selby, and Kansas State kept their faint NCAA hopes alive for another week with a win at Iowa State.

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

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

8 - 0

15 – 1

@ Colorado, @ Baylor
2. Kansas

7 - 1

13.5 – 2.5

@ Kansas St @ Missouri
3. Missouri

4 - 4

10.5 – 5.5

@ Kansas St @ Kansas
4. Baylor

5 - 4

8.5 – 7.5

vs. Texas @ Texas, @ Missouri, @ Ok State
4. Colorado

4 - 5

8.5 – 7.5

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

4 - 4

8 – 8

@ Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma State @ Colorado, @ Baylor, @ Kansas
6. Oklahoma St

4 - 5

8 – 8

@ Nebraska, @ OU @ Texas, @ Kansas
8. Kansas St

4 - 5

7.5 – 8.5

vs. Kansas, @ Nebraska, vs. Missouri @ Colorado, @ Texas
9. Oklahoma

4 - 4

5.5 – 10.5

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

3 - 6

5 – 11

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

3 - 5

4.5 – 11.5

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

1 - 8

2.5 – 13.5

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

Biggest Surprise from Last Week: Oklahoma State over Missouri in Stillwater. In this column last week, I projected Missouri to have the easiest schedule and fully expected the Tigers to grab their first conference road win. Mizzou apparently had some travel issues getting into Stillwater but that doesn’t excuse the loss to the Cowboys. I expected the suspect OSU guard play to struggle against the Missouri pressure. That didn’t happen at all. In fact, the Cowboys had the lowest turnover percentage of any Tiger opponent this season. As I’ve said for a few years, Missouri is a gimmicky team that can’t even defeat average opponents when not creating a boatload of turnovers.

Team with Most Favorable Schedule: Kansas. Along with Colorado, KU gets two home game this week. The Jayhawks host Missouri on Monday night and then Iowa State on Saturday. The game with the Cyclones could be won by the KU back-ups and since the Tigers couldn’t win at Colorado, at A&M, at Texas, or at Oklahoma State, there is little chance they win at Kansas.

Team with Least Favorable Schedule: Oklahoma.. The Sooners had quietly ticked off four in a row and led at halftime in Stillwater. However, the Sooners came back to earth and lost to OSU. This week the Sooners draw two Tier I teams—Texas in Norman and Missouri in Columbia. OU is projected to lose both.

Toss-Up Games:

Texas A&M at Texas Tech (Saturday) The Aggies go to Colorado earlier in the week. If they drop that one as expected, this becomes a must win game for A&M. The Aggies wouldn’t be able to afford a fall to 4-6 and hope to get to double digits conference victories, with trips to Kansas and Baylor still left on their schedule. I’ll take the Aggies in a close one.

Oklahoma State at Nebraska (Saturday) With two mediocre offenses and very little on the line, this one is pretty much unwatchable. I’ll take the Huskers by two.

Upset Pick: Reluctantly, Kansas State over Colorado in Boulder. This is the choice by process of elimination. A&M could win at Colorado but it is such a mismatch at the guard spots that I have to stick with the Buffs. Kansas isn’t going to lose at home. Texas should roll through Norman and defeat Baylor in Austin. Baylor is too athletic and has too much offensive firepower to lose to Nebraska in Waco. Missouri will lose on Monday but I can’t see them losing at home to the Sooners. Since I should pick at least one, it is Kansas State over Colorado. With a tough schedule remaining, K State would need this one to sniff the NCAA tournament.

Post-season Outlook: Kansas (RPI 1, Pomeroy 2), Texas (RPI 6, Pomeroy 3), and Missouri (RPI 31, Pomeroy 23) are NCAA locks at this point. Texas A&M (RPI 23, Pomeroy 42) has become a bubble team. Everybody else has significant work to do. (RealTimeRPI, KenPom)