BIG 12 OUTLOOK: 03.15.09 (Final Analysis)


Big Twelve Conference Standings

(updated 3.15.2009 at 2:27 AM CDT)

Conf Overall
W L W L
Kansas Jayhawks 14 2 25 7
Oklahoma Sooners 13 3 27 5
Missouri Tigers 12 4 28 6
Kansas St. Wildcats 9 7 21 11
Texas Longhorns 9 7 22 11
Texas A&M Aggies 9 7 23 9
Oklahoma St. Cowboys 9 7 22 11
Nebraska Cornhuskers 8 8 18 12
Baylor Bears 5 11 20 14
Iowa St. Cyclones 4 12 15 17
Texas Tech Red Raiders 3 13 14 19
Colorado Buffaloes 1 15 9 22


Well, it's Selection Sunday, so I thought I'd take one last look at the Big 12's computer profiles, even though I'm pretty sure I already know what they will tell me. Hit the jump if you want to see the ugly truth...

Seed Record Postseason* RPI Pomeroy Sagarin Streak Best Win** Worst Loss** Coach
Kansas 1 14-2 NCAA 11 11 15 L-1 Missouri UMass Bill Self
Oklahoma 2 13-3 NCAA 6 17 9 L-1 Purdue Arkansas Jeff Capel
Missouri 3 12-4 NCAA 10 10 10 W-3 Kansas Nebraska Mike Anderson
Kansas State 4 9-7 NIT 81 41 49 L-1 Missouri Oregon Frank Martin
Texas 5 9-7 NCAA 41 28 29 L-1 UCLA Arkansas Rick Barnes
Texas A&M 6 9-7 NCAA 36 52 46 L-1 Missouri Texas Tech Mark Turgeon
Oklahoma State 7 9-7 NCAA 20 33 30 L-1 Oklahoma Texas A&M Travis Ford
Nebraska 8 8-8 NIT 75 73 73 L-1 Missouri UMBC Doc Sadler
Baylor 9 5-11 NIT 56 50 45 L-1 Kansas Iowa State Scott Drew
Iowa State 10 4-12 None 168 114 116 L-1 Baylor SDSU Greg McDermott
Texas Tech 11 3-13 None 119 96 98 L-1 Kansas Lamar Pat Knight
Colorado 12 1-15 None 236 179 202 L-12 Iowa State Montana State Jeff Bzdelik

Note: As any of these numbers change, I will color-code them to indicate direction of change.
Team names that are colored indicate a change in seed.
(green = upward, red = downward)

*Predicted
**According to Pomeroy rating

 

Discussion

Baylor: The Bears found one last surprising spark of life, but it was too little, too late, as they fell short last night against Missouri. Still, they showed some moxie, but proved just how much they underachieved this season given the potential of their talent and experience. If nothing else, they collected their best wins of the season, locked up a high seed in the NIT and secured consecutive trips to the postseason for the first time in many years.

Colorado: The less said, the better. Cory Higgins is a bright spot for the future, sure, but I question Bzdelik's ability to use him properly and to put other talent around him.

Iowa State: The future of this team hinges one thing: Whether Craig Brackins decides to cut his losses and stop being the best player in the conference to never reach the postseason by declaring for the big boys' league. The outcome of that decision will the difference between the Cyclones threatening to break out of the basement next year, or finishing dead last. We shall see...

Kansas: Two ugly losses in their last three games exposed the Jayhawk's youth for all to see. It most likely cost them a No. 2 seed in the tournament. Picking this team to make even a Sweet 16 run is probably bracket suicide.

Kansas State: I don't for a second agree that the RPI should mean a damn thing, but there's no denying that historically, teams with a sub-75 RPI don't stand a chance to make the field. Even Baylor and Nebraska have a higher RPI than us. We had four chances to secure one last quality win, and failed at all four.

Even the "Last 12" stat doesn't play in our favor; if you exclude the NC Central game, we alternated wins and losses ever since Kansas stole our mojo in Manhattan. That is not exactly a hot streak entering the postseason, especially for a team that was way too streaky already. It's roughly the same pattern we had in 2006-2007, right down to a final road loss in Stillwater. Look where that got us.

The crazy thing is that our six-game winning streak probably came too early in the season. Go figure. Hopefully, the Cats can make a little run in the NIT and set up some huge expectations for next year, when Frank and the boys should have a giant chip on their shoulder about the way this season ended.

Missouri: I told you Mike Anderson should have been Coach of the Year. The Tigers had a very nice season, but I still wonder about their long-term viability given the kind of talent that Baylor, Kansas, K-State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M are adding next season. Losing Carroll, Lawrence and Lyons will be huge. Let's see if the Tigers can get back to the NCAAs next season before we anoint Anderson permanently, OK?

Nebraska: Although Nebraska certainly overachieved this season given their overall talent level and the huge (pun intended) loss of Maric, the end result was still the same: An unimpressive resume and Husker fans sweating out Selection Sunday, worried they may not even be invited to the NIT.

As with Colorado, I question Sadler's long-term ability to collect talent in Lincoln. You have to think that another season like this will have other programs sniffing around after him, and you have to think he would jump at the chance to go to an actual basketball school, like his former boss Billy Gillispie did.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma had the Player of the Year (Big 12 and National, most likely) and the Freshman of the Year, and was picked to win everything. How did that work out? Well, the Jayhawks punked them in Norman (and I frankly think they would have won even if Blake had played, given that the Sooners couldn't even beat center-less Missouri and Oklahoma State with him) to win the regular season, and the Tigers cruised to the tournament title after easily dispatching the very team that squeezed the Sooners out.

I'm sorry, but by any definition, you have to label that underachievement. The Sooners lost four of their last six games, possibly cost themselves a No. 2 seed and don't appear to be a serious threat to reach the Final Four. Even though Capel is doing a great job of attracting talent to a program that was void of it after Sampson carpet-bombed the place, you still have to do something with that talent when you get it. This year, he didn't.

Oklahoma State: Unlike K-State, the Cowboys made sure they made their run at the end of the season, when it is most important to make a statement. Yes, the majority of their wins were against the crap of the league, but when push came to shove, they won must-win games against us and Texas, and then sealed the deal with their upset of the Sooners in Bedlam, Part 3.

They better live it up while they can, though. I think the loss of Eaton and Harris will be much bigger than most people are making it out to be right now. Even if Anderson returns, this team will still lack a post presence to complement Moses and, more importantly, won't have a floor leader as good as Eaton, who I think is the best (and certainly the most experienced) point guard in the conference.

Texas: Speaking of underachievement, can any program do less with more than Texas? Yes, the Longhorns' talent level was down this season, but Abrams and James were still 1st-team-type talents that failed to deliver in crunch-time. When your best player at the end of the season is Dexter Pittman, you have a problem.

One thing's for sure - Texas has to actually find a legitimate point guard next year. The top candidates are highly-touted freshman Avery Bradley and transfer Jai Lucas. Either would be a drastic improvement over Dogus "No Jump Shot" Balbay and Justin "Hard Worker" Mason.

Texas A&M: Sorry, I haven't stopped laughing yet, so I don't really have any coherent thoughts to offer regarding the Gaggies. Sure, they'll probably still be in the Dance, but they sure did their damnedest to jeopardize that status. I guess it's a good thing they only lose Josh Carter.

Texas Tech: 29 consecutive points? Wow. Mike "I Can't Believe It's Not Starter!" Singletary gives this team hope for the first time all season, and in the final week or so, Pat Knight might have shown he can actually coach a bit. Dumping Turd's bunch endeared them to me, that's for sure.

The Big 12: I have two final thoughts to offer regarding our illustrious conference as it prepares to most likely embarrass itself in postseason play:

  1. I know the economy is bad, but there is no way the crowds would have been that poor in Kansas City. The final game would have been a capacity sellout at the Sprint Center. Hell, a lot more than 500 people would have stuck around to watch the amazing Singletary shock and awe aTm. Despite the Texas teams making most of the noise this week, fans did not show.

    Put the damn thing back in KC where it belongs so that four of the five unquestionably best fan bases in the conference (ISU, KU, KSU, MU) can pack the joint. I guarantee the orange OSU fans will still be there, too - there's no sound economic reason to give them a home-court environment while leaving the rest of the games quiet as a funeral.

  2. Frank Martin is right: The conference's failure to champion all of its teams, despite how realistic it may feel their chances are, is deplorable. Hell, Dan Beebe should be out there making a case for freakin' Baylor; if not for their 14 losses, the Bears would have a good profile, since all their computer numbers jumped at least 20 spots this week.

    Instead, the robotic puppets that this joke of a league calls "announcers" sit there on their high horse, utter complete inanities and try to justify why the South teams are God's chosen people, but lowly K-State doesn't deserve a sniff.

    Much as I hate to admit it, I agree with a certain comic book writer who posts at a certain Rivals site of the purple persuasion: Lew Perkins should be running this conference. Maybe then we would have a spine when combating ESPiN population bias.

P.S. Kudos to the nine readers (out of 113) who picked Missouri on Wednesday to win the tournament. That's only seven percent - good job.

 

What's Next?

This concludes Big 12 Outlook for the 2008-2009 season. It's been a lot of work, but it's also been a lot of fun. I'm going to try to get my Protest Playoff series back off the ground next week, since both its basketball equivalent and spring football are getting under way, but other than that, I will probably back off on the posting for a little while and catch my breath.

This summer, however, I'll be jumping back into it hardcore with a new weekly feature called "Know Thy Enemy." This will be an extremely in-depth analysis of every Big 12 basketball team for the 2009-2010 season, which figures to be an extremely competitive one.

I will have the total rundown on who's returning, as well as all the information I can find on the new guys - high school stats, what they did in their playoffs, video, etc. My goal is to make this the one-stop shop for information about K-State's challengers for next year's Big 12 Championship.

It figures to be the longest summer of my adult life, but for the first time I can remember, my eager countdown won't be toward the beginning of football season...

 

Tournament Awards: The Singletaries

A few of the performances of the last week deserve special mention, since they came on the biggest stage the Big 12 can offer. Maybe some of these people didn't do much during the regular season, but when the opportunity for legendary performances presented itself, they delivered.

The award is named after the player who delivered the single most impressive postseason performance in Big 12 tournament history, of course. He may not do anything of note for the rest of his career, but I don't think anyone will ever forget who he was when you mention his name.

 

Coach of the Week

ScottDrew

Scott Drew (Baylor)

Go figure - I dub the guy the year's biggest underachiever, and then he leads his team to become the first sub-No. 4 seed to reach the championship game. Coach Drew, I still think you sucked as a coach for much of the season, but I owe you something of an apology, in that when your back was against the wall, you got your team to perform like they were capable.

Now, if you had only won some more games in the regular season, you might have earned a bye, and perhaps it then would have been you hoisting up the trophy yesterday, instead of Mike Anderson. Something to work on next year, I suppose.

Honorable mention to Anderson, of course, and while it may seem weird that I am honoring the guy he beat yesterday, I feel I already sufficiently validated him last week. There is no denying that Drew delivered the biggest shocker of the tournament for three days running, and given how badly I dissed him last week, I felt some acknowledgment was in order.

Most Underachieving Coach of the Week

BillSelf

Bill Self (Kansas)

Coach of the Year, my ass. Try first Kansas coach to ever lose his first tournament game or first coach of a No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 9 seed.

Honorable mention is likely a toss-up between Rick Barnes, who oversaw Texas' first loss to Baylor in 11 years, or Mark Turgeon. I guess I'll go with the Turd, since Barnes at least won a game this week. A&M had no excuse blowing a 20-point lead against an undermanned Tech team, Singletary or no Singletary, and if they are left out today they'll know exactly why.

I notice a strong Jayhawk theme on this award, by the way. Interesting.

 

All-Big 12 Tournament Team

JamesAnderson LaceDariusDunn MattLawrence DexterPittman MikeSingletary
James Anderson LaceDarius Dunn Matt Lawrence Dexter Pittman Mike Singletary
Oklahoma State Baylor Missouri Texas Texas Tech

Just one team this time around. The criteria are: one player per team, and each player's team must have won at least one game. Thanks to a rash of upsets, only five teams met that criteria, so my job was fairly simple.

I was extremely torn between James Anderson and Byron Eaton. Eaton's injury clearly affected his team adversely, but Anderson's foul trouble hurt just as much. It was Eaton who had the crucial drive to the basket against Oklahoma, but it was "Big Game James" who knocked down the charities.

Since I picked Eaton higher than Anderson last week, I'll flip it this week, but damn, was it close. Honorable mention to the entire team, really; Terrel Harris, Marshall Moses, Obi Muonelo and Keiton Page all performed admirably.

Likewise, there are many Baylor players I could honor, most notably seniors Curtis Jerrells and Kevin Rogers (who, along with Dexter Pittman, came one rebound short of tying Drew Gooden's tournament single-game record of 21), but LaceDarius Dunn finally knocking down 3s again like he did in Manhattan was the biggest key to the Bears' success this week. I suppose I must admit that he perhaps deserved Big 12 Co-Sixth Man of the Year after all, although I still think he's too streaky for his own good.

Clearly, Missouri deserves a player on here since they won the whole shebang, but who? More than anyone else, the Tigers exemplified the concept of "team wins" this week. DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons were too inconsistent in the championship game to merit it, I feel, and many of the role players just didn't score enough to impress me overly much.

I finally settled on Matt Lawrence since it seemed like every time Baylor threatened yesterday, there he was knocking down another big 3 on the run. That also puts both of the Sixth Men of the Year on the team, which I find an interesting yet useless factoid. I'd be curious to hear who Tiger fans think was their most impressive or crucial player this week. (Hint, hint, Rock M Nation...)

Perhaps the second-most surprising thing this week (other than Baylor) was "Sexy Dex" Pittman's metamorphosis from a nice big guy off the bench into the immediate future of Texas basketball. The big guy was utterly unstoppable this week, but his most notorious accomplishment was plunging Panjandrum into sudden and surprising gloom about K-State's long-term prospects in the paint.

I'm just kidding around, Pan. Although I don't think you necessarily have to have a behemoth inside to be successful in the post, as I believe rebounding is more than anything a function of skill and willpower, I will agree with you that Pittman is gonna be a load to handle next season, for everyone. I'm glad we get him in Manhattan. Maybe by then we'll start getting the calls we couldn't get in Oklahoma City...

I saved the best for last. If I had to pick a single player on this list to honor, it would obviously be Mike Singletary. The kid came off the bench to score the second-most consecutive points by just one player in Division I history, came one point shy of tying Beasley's and Clemente's record, secured the upset win for his team and shattered Marcus Fizer's tournament single-game scoring record. Not bad for a kid coming off the bench.

I found myself torn between rooting for him to single-handedly embarrass the Aggies and rooting against him breaking the overall single-game scoring record, and he delivered admirably on both counts. The best of both worlds, I say.

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