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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big 12

With all the talk of the craziness in the Big Ten, I thought I'd wander a bit and focus on the Big 12. 

If you've been reading the blog (or not) you're aware that Kansas is really good.  You might also have heard since being annointed the #1 team in the country Texas is 2-5.  Unfortunately the rest of the conference has taken a back seat to these noteworthy performances.
Here are the standings as of 2/10/10:
 
Conf. Overall
Kansas 23 1 9 0
Kansas St. 19 4 6 3
Texas A&M 17 6 6 3
Missouri 17 6 5 3
Texas 19 5 5 4
Baylor 17 5 4 4
Oklahoma St. 16 7 4 5
Texas Tech 16 7 4 5
Oklahoma 13 10 4 5
Iowa St. 13 10 2 6
Nebraska 13 10 1 7
Colorado 11 12 2 7
 
  • Kansas is truly an elite team as they rank second in both adjusted (tempo-free) offense and defense.  They've nearly locked up a one seed and have to be the favorite to earn the number one overall seed.
  • Kansas St. now has to be considered the second best team in the conference. With wins over Xavier and on the road at UNLV they have a decent non-conference resume.  If there were still doubters after starting 17-3, taking Kansas in OT should have convinced them this team is for real.  They are currently sitting in the 2-4 seed range.  
Read about the other teams after the jump.
  • Texas A&M is sitting on the bubble but will probably earn an at-large berth at their current pace.  A difficult home stretch could change that in a hurry though.
  • Missouri continues to baffle me.  Are they good or aren't they?  I'm not sure even they know.  An excellent defensive team that likes to play fast, Missouri can do a lot for their tournament hopes by dispatching Texas on Feb 17.
  • Right now Texas is even more confusing than Missouri.  They profile similarly to the Tigers, too, in that they are an elite defensive team that prefers to push the tempo.  Where Texas really struggles is at the line, both in getting there and converting.  The Longhorns currently only make 61.2% of their free throws which ranks 335th in the NCAA.  I don't see Derrick Rose on this team so I won't be penciling them in for a spot in the Final Four.  However, they have the talent of a top 5 team.
  • Since starting 13-1 Baylor has been a .500 team.  They lost at home to KSt but won on the road at Texas. Weird.  They'll need to reel off a few wins if they hope to get a good enough seed to win more than one NCAA tournament game.  Right now they project as a 7 or 8 seed.
  • Oklahoma St. has lost three in a row and is putting their tournament hopes in serious jeopardy.  I had them as one of my last four teams in when I made my last post.  It's unlikely they finish with a winning record in conference play.  If they do squeak into the tournament it will likely be as an 11 or 12 seed.
  • Texas Tech is probably two losses away from having their bubble pop.  Consecutive wins over the Oklahoma schools likely stalled the inevitable.  I'm not saying it's impossible but it is unlikely they will be able to do better than 8-8 in conference with a brutal stretch of games coming up.
  • Oklahoma is probably the third most talented team in the Big 12 behind KU and Texas yet they are maddeningly inconsistent. They have beaten Missouri and Texas at home but have also lost to San Diego, Houston, and Texas Tech (twice!).  This team is one of the youngest in Division I so expect them to make the tournament next season.
  • Iowa St. needs to rally just to make the NIT.  This is a team that doesn't get to the free throw line and doesn't force turnovers.  Hard to win without doing one of these well.  Their best win this season is probably @ Nebraska. Yeah, that bad.
  • Nebraska does their best to imitate Wisconsin.  Playing at the slowest tempo in the conference, they work the clock, play tough defense, and shoot the three well.  Unfortunately, unlike the Badgers they don't get offensive rebounds and are Texas-like at the free throw line.
  • Colorado is the worst team in the Big 12.  Oklahoma plays worse but they have talent.  The Buffaloes may pick up a couple of wins the rest of the way but don't be fooled. This team is bad.
It's clear the Big 12 is a solid conference with eight teams in or on the bubble.  Getting eight teams in isn't going to happen though.  Even seven will be a stretch as these teams continue to beat up on one another.  What's likely is six get in with two or three of those reaching the Sweet 16.  Kansas remains the class of the conference and has to be the current favorite to win it all.
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