BIG 12 OUTLOOK: 03.16.10 (Final Analysis)




Selection Sunday has come and gone, but I thought I'd take one last look at the Big 12's computer profiles, just for curiosity's sake.

Follow the jump if you're equally curious.

Seed Record Tourney RPI Pomeroy Sagarin Streak Best Win* Worst Loss* Coach
Kansas 1 15-1 NCAA 1 2 1 W-5 Kansas State (x3) Oklahoma State Bill Self
Kansas State 2 11-5 NCAA 6 9 6 L-1 Baylor (x2) Iowa State Frank Martin
Baylor 3 11-5 NCAA 9 12 8 L-1 Texas A&M Colorado Scott Drew
Texas A&M 4 11-5 NCAA 13 23 17 L-1 Baylor Washington Mark Turgeon
Missouri 5 10-6 NCAA 44 21 21 L-2 Kansas State Nebraska Mike Anderson
Texas 6 9-7 NCAA 29 17 13 L-1 Texas A&M Oklahoma Rick Barnes
Oklahoma State 7 9-7 NCAA 32 44 36 L-1 Kansas Oklahoma Travis Ford
Colorado 8 6-10 None 120 91 93 L-1 Baylor Oregon State Jeff Bzdelik
Texas Tech 9 4-12 NIT 72 80 69 L-1 Oklahoma State Nebraska Pat Knight
Oklahoma 10 4-12 None 124 101 97 L-9 Texas San Diego Jeff Capel
Iowa State 11 4-12 None 123 74 73 L-1 Kansas State Oklahoma Greg McDermott
Nebraska 12 2-14 None 149 89 96 L-1 Missouri Iowa State (x2) Doc Sadler

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

*According to RealTimeRPI

 

Discussion

Baylor: As you will see in tonight's BRACKET BLOG, I really like Baylor's draw and its chances to make the Elite Eight or Final Four.

Coupled with the Bears' run to the conference semifinals, their tie for second place after being picked 10th in the preseason and their No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, this season was an unqualified success for Scott Drew.

LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh claim they are coming back next year, and if they hold true to that promise, Baylor's only significant losses will be Tweety Carter and Josh Lomers.

Add in another year of off-season development for Anthony Jones and the addition of 5-star freshman Perry Ellis (another 6-10 guy?!), and Baylor should join Kansas and Kansas State as the preseason favorites in 2010-2011.

Colorado: Colorado finished the season with a thud, losing soundly to a Texas Tech squad it beat less than a week previous and halting a three-game winning streak that included the Buffs' first conference road win in four years.

But none of that softens my man-crush on what Jeff Bzdelik did with that program this season. Last year, I questioned his ability to surround Cory Higgins with talent. All he did was add Alec Burks, proving once again why I am not a Division I men's basketball coach.

Colorado loses no significant players, other than Dwight Thorne II, next year. That's right. Burks, Higgins, Marcus Relphorde, Nate Tomlinson — they're all coming back. If Bzdelik can find a quality big man, Colorado will be a true threat to break into the top half of the conference next season.

Iowa State: Oh, my God, could things get any worse in Ames?

On the heels of their shocking upset win in Manhattan, here's how the Cyclones' subsequent week unfolded:

  • They were solidly defeated by Texas in Kansas City to end their season.
  • Craig Brackins finally decided to go pro. Last year, I said Iowa State would improve if he came back, but I was dead wrong.
  • Marquis Gilstrap's appeal for a sixth year was denied, and he too announced he will turn pro.
  • Jamie Vanderbeken also will not receive a medical hardship for his lost 2009-2010 season and he will graduate in May.
  • Sophomore Justin Hamilton and freshman Dominique Buckley decided they'd had enough of sucking, and announced they will transfer.
  • Worst of all, Greg McDermott received the dreaded vote of no confidence.

So while Iowa finally accepted the inevitable and blew up its program in order to start over, Iowa State decided to stick its head in the sand and endure another year of crap. Good luck with that.

Kansas: Ho-hum — the Jayhawks won another conference championship and another tournament championship, lost only one conference game all season, earned a No. 1 overall seed, and probably will win another national championship.

In other words, business as usual. There's no denying that Bill Self is a master at this, I must admit.

Kansas State: Entering the Big 12 Tournament, I think every Wildcat fan secretly was questioning whether the tank was running on fumes and the fun was about to end.

Well, after witnessing in person the most impressive win of the season, followed by a second win over the third-best team in the conference, capped by yet another hard-fought effort against the best team in the country that just fell short for the third time this year, I think I safely can put those fears to rest.

The best is yet to come — and I'm referring both to the next month and the next season. Strap in.

Missouri: Um, what the hell? Nebraska? The team that only had beat Oklahoma and Texas Tech in this calendar year?

Someone asked me at the tournament (and I'll admit I don't know the answer): Has any defending tournament champion failed to win a single tournament game the next year (in the first round, no less)?

Missouri had a decent "rebuilding" season, all things considered. It proved it could overcome the loss of its three most significant players (DeMarre Carroll, Matt Lawrence, Leo Lyons), finished 10-6 in a better Big 12 and returned to the NCAA Tournament — all questions I said Mike Anderson had to answer before I "anointed" him.

But I think Tiger fans expected a little more. Failing even to stay within 20 points of Kansas, home or away; a first-round loss in Kansas City; and a likely tournament exit this weekend probably weren't what they were wanting.

Nebraska: Man, I don't know what to make of this team. Just when you thought you could start piling dirt on the grave of Nebrasketball, the Doctor pulled another stunner out of nowhere.

As Austin Meek put it, the only difference between Nebraska's loss in Manhattan and their win in Kansas City is that they figured out how to win the second one. Considering how woeful the Huskers looked at times (Austin?), that tells me Doc Sadler's young players might be starting to figure things out.

The jury still is very much out on this team and this program, but considering how little experience returned this season, how mismatched all the parts were and how good the conference was, even three Big 12 wins was a step.

Next year will tell us a lot about Sadler's future at Nebraska, I think.

Oklahoma: I think everyone can agree on thing concerning the Sooners: Thank God it's over.

Last year, I said Jeff Capel was good at collecting talent, but hadn't yet done anything of significance with it (e.g., win a championship). Has anything changed? Will it?

Oklahoma State: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Wednesday night, I found myself dreading the thought of another loss at the hands of the Cowboys, who looked unstoppable against Oklahoma in the first round.

One night later, I couldn't have been more wrong. The onslaught of Jamar Samuels and the Wildcats left OSU looking just like the in-state rival it had dispatched the previous night.

So what does it all mean? I'm not sure I've figured that out yet. Obviously, Okie Lite is good, but not superb. I think the story of this season will be written during the next week, when the Cowboys face a comparable team in Georgia Tech and James Anderson potentially faces a comparable superstar in Evan Turner.

Make it to the Sweet Sixteen and I might have to reconsider my "not superb" assessment.

Texas: The story of Texas' season, just like Oklahoma State's, will be written during the rest of March.

Right now, the Longhorns are the most disappointing team in the country and sliding toward the finish line.

(Which, I might add, I predicted to happen if Rick Barnes didn't go find a point guard — and he didn't.)

But if they should awaken and play to their talent level, they could rip off two, three or four wins without breaking a sweat, and suddenly, Texas will be the hottest team in the country.

I'm not saying it's going to happen. In fact, I highly doubt it will. But the potential is there, and thus, it's appropriate to wait just a bit longer before truly assessing what happened in Austin this year.

Texas A&M: I remarked to a co-worker this morning that I could see K-State losing to BYU in the second round if we have one of our patented poor shooting/rebounding/defensive nights (see: Iowa State), but I also easily could see the Wildcats in the Final Four. Therein lies the tricky challenge of bracketology.

Texas A&M is in a similar position. They're being shipped out to Washington and the last time the Aggies played in that state, Derrick Roland broke his leg and they suffered their worst loss of the season. There, they will face Utah State, a team likely to bring more fans and hungry for the 12-over-5 upset.

Survive that and things open up a bit, because Siena is beatable and Purdue almost is an aTm clone. Then return to Houston, bring the crowds and make a run. But this isn't a team that blows you away with its talent — it just plays fundamentally solid basketball. Will that be enough to escape the first weekend? I can't wait to find out.

Texas Tech: The do-over win versus Colorado was nice, the NIT bid represents minor progress and Pat Knight also is coming back for another year.

But where is this program really heading? Recruiting? I don't see it. Xs and Os? Not up to his dad's standards (1970s Bob Knight, not the blowhard now on the ESPN airwaves). And where the hell did Mike Singletary disappear to?

Like Iowa State and Nebraska, next year will tell us a lot about Texas Tech, and just like those two programs, a coaching change could be in order if progress does not continue.

The Big 12: In short, it was a banner year, regardless of what happens from this point forward. The league's accomplishments include:

  • No. 1 RPI conference;
  • Seven teams in the NCAA Tournament, the most ever;
  • The No. 1 overall seed and two other top-four seeds;
  • Eight teams in the postseason, which I'm guessing at least ties some sort of record;
  • Seven different teams were ranked this year, including two who were No. 1 and three in the top 10;
  • Numerous classic games, including several scintillating Big Monday match-ups (crappy announcers notwithstanding) and an unforgettable College Gameday experience in Manhattan.

People keep asking me what I think of the brackets. Well, here's what I think: I want to see as many Big 12 teams play Big East teams as is possible. We're just 1-2 against the Big East, mostly due to limited scheduling opportunities.

I want to know once and for all which is the best conference, because I think you can make a case for both.

Give me Baylor-Notre Dame, Baylor-Villanova, Georgetown-Kansas, Georgetown-Oklahoma State, Kansas State-Pittsburgh, Kansas State-Syracuse, Louisville-Texas A&M, Marquette-Missouri and/or Missouri-West Virginia, and I will leave March a very happy man.

An aside: Last year, I predicted the tournament would have a much better turnout at Sprint Center than it did at Ford Center.

Well, it looks like I was right. The building was abuzz all weekend, the championship game had a sellout crowd of 19,000, the Power & Light District was amazing and it was just an awesome experience all around.

Iowa State and Oklahoma State fans hung around even after their teams lost, and Kansas and Kansas State obviously represented themselves very well. Unlike the tournament two years ago, the Big 12 got its dream championship match-up and the actual game almost delivered. I just wish we could have kept it a little closer.

 

What's Next?

This concludes BIG 12 OUTLOOK for the 2009-2010 season. As usual, it's been a lot of work, but it's also been a lot of fun. I'll keep up the posting frenzy with BRACKET BLOGs and RPI WATCHes for the duration of the tournament, not to mention open game threads.

Then I probably will back off from posting for a little while and catch my breath, at least until the spring game.

I've got a few new ideas bouncing around in my head, but they might have to wait until fall. There's another huge summer project coming up at work, and although it's not as comprehensive and time-consuming as last summer's, it still will consume much of my attention for a while.

 

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 a legendary performance presented itself, they delivered.

The awards are named after the player who delivered the single most impressive postseason performance in Big 12 Tournament history, of course. Last year, I wrote the following:

He might not do anything of note for the rest of his career, but I don't think anyone ever will forget who he was when you mention his name.

Well, ironically enough, Mike Singletary largely disappeared from our consciousness this season, just as I predicted, yet I suspect the mere mention of his name in this context instantly brings back memories of his ridiculous game last season.

If anything, the award now might be ill-named, because last week, no one really had a performance worthy of that standard.

 

Coach of the Week

FrankMartin

Frank Martin (Kansas State)

Entering the week, no team had more questions that Kansas State.

Well, Frank Martin had answers — K-State played two of its best games of the season and reached the Big 12 finals for the first time ever. Yeah, they fell short of the ultimate goal, but there's no shame in losing to the best team in the country, even three times.

So since I didn't award you a COTY Botcy, here's a consolation prize, Frank.

Most Underachieving Coach of the Week

MikeAnderson

Mike Anderson (Missouri)

Last year's COTY Botcy winner has suffered something of a fall from grace, traveling the reverse course of Scott Drew, in a way.

Missouri fell victim to the only true upset of the tournament and looked extremely ugly doing it.

Now they take the baton from K-State as the team with the most questions entering the weekend.

 

All-Big 12 Tournament Team

ColeAldrich JamesAnderson LaceDariusDunn JamarSamuels DonaldSloan
Cole Aldrich James Anderson LaceDarius Dunn Jamar Samuels
Donald Sloan
Kansas Oklahoma State
Baylor Kansas State
Texas A&M

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. Unlike last season, eight teams won a game, so there was a larger pool from which to select. I went with the four teams that had byes and the best overall player in the tournament.

For the third straight time this season, Kansas State fell to Kansas, and for the third straight time, Cole Aldrich was the reason why. Without the big lug in the middle, Bill Self's triangle-and-two simply wouldn't work against us. If I'm picking teams, I take Aldrich every time. Kansas fans can keep Sherron Collins.

James Anderson was quiet against Oklahoma, with just 11 points, but he had 27 against K-State in a losing effort. I was tempted to instead honor Keiton Page, who blew up for 24 points against OU, but Anderson is the better overall player and edged Page out.

LaceDarius Dunn uncorked on Texas to the tune of 7 of 12 for 19 points and nine rebounds, then followed that up by scoring 26 points in a loss to K-State. He is the engine that drives Baylor and his hot shooting could take the Bears all the way to the Final Four.

Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen were great in Kansas City, and they certainly deserved recognition on the Big 12's all-tournament team, but I personally nominate Jamar Samuels as the most impressive player of the tournament.

Samuels came out of his shell in a big way against Oklahoma State. Look at this stat line: 7-of-9 shooting, 2 of 3 from 3-point range, 11 of 14 from the free-throw line, 27 points and 10 rebounds. Simply ridiculous.

After a quiet, foul-plagued 7-point effort against Baylor, Samuels provided a desperately needed offensive spark in the second half against Kansas, canning his first four 3-point makes. He'd never made more than two in a single game before that. Alas, it wasn't enough to help the Cats win.

Finally, Donald Sloan proved he deserved first-team All-Big 12 honors by scoring 23 points and dishing four assists against Nebraska, and following that up with 24 points and five rebounds in a loss to Kansas. As Sloan goes, so too shall the Aggies go in March.

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