BIG 12 OUTLOOK: 03.15.11 (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. Also behind the magic curtain are my all-tournament picks and final conference analysis.

Seed* Record* Tourney* RPI Pomeroy Sagarin Streak Best Win** Worst Loss** Coach
Kansas 1 14-2 NCAA 1 3 3 W-8 Texas Kansas State Bill Self
Texas 2 13-3 NCAA 11 4 4 L-1 Kansas Nebraska Rick Barnes
Texas A&M 3 10-6 NCAA 30 45 41 L-1 Kansas State Baylor (2) Mark Turgeon
Kansas State 4 10-6 NCAA 23 29 31 L-1 Kansas Colorado (3) Frank Martin
Colorado 5 8-8 NIT 65 49 53 L-1 Texas Iowa State Tad Boyle
Missouri 6 8-8 NCAA 37 34 29 L-1 Old Dominion Nebraska Mike Anderson
Baylor 7 7-9 None 94 72 65 L-3 Texas A&M (2) Texas Tech Scott Drew
Nebraska 8 7-9 NIT 89 48 50 L-2 Texas Davidson Doc Sadler
Oklahoma State 9 6-10 NIT 61 75 76 L-1 Kansas State Texas Tech Travis Ford
Oklahoma 10 5-11 None 126 134 128 L-1 Oklahoma State Chaminade Jeff Capel
Texas Tech 11 5-11 None 165 106 121 L-2 Oklahoma State TCU Pat Knight
Iowa State 12 3-13 None 138 78 72 L-2 Colorado Texas Tech Fred Hoiberg

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)

*Predicted
**According to RealTimeRPI

 

 

Discussion

Baylor: ROTFLOL!

Sorry, still not done laughing about Baylor's nonexistent postseason fate. Who would have thought an Elite Eight team would follow up that performance by not even making the field of 68? Worse yet, Baylor isn't in any tourney at all.

We may never know whether the Bears declined an NIT bid or merely were not offered one. But it's crazy to think our final image of Perry Jones III, a certifiable lottery pick in the summer draft, will be of him in warm-ups, suspended by the NCAA for a loss to Oklahoma.

It's hard to imagine a program sinking any lower from the heights of last April. But with the departures of LaceDarius Dunn and Jones, Baylor might find a way. And Drew now has handed perfect negative recruiting fodder to the other nine coaches in the league — why go to Baylor if you won't even play in the postseason?

Colorado: Yeah, Colorado got screwed. But there's a reason I never designated them as an NCAA lock. See why?

Whenever this half-hearted NIT run comes to an end, Alec Burks is sure to declare for the NBA draft, joining departing seniors Austin Dufault, Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson and Nate Tomlinson on their way out of the program.

That will leave Tad Boyle in certified rebuilding mode as he enters the Pac-12 Conference. And that's pretty much when I will stop caring about the Buffaloes pretty much for good. Good luck to him, but good riddance.

Iowa State: The future looks bright in Ames, despite a .500 final record and no postseason berth (which I correctly predicted for weeks, I might add). Fred Hoiberg just needs to figure out a way to get his team to close out close games.

Jake Anderson, Diante Garrett and Jamie Vanderbeken will be gone, but Scott Christopherson and Melvin Ejim will lead a crop of transfers and young talent into the new Big 12. Expect the Cyclones to make some noise next year.

We'll get our first view of the new-look Clones in August, when they fly to Italy to take on several professional teams in a preseason tour. A name to watch in 2011-12: Former Cowley College point guard Tyrus McGee.

Note: Little-used reserve Eric McKnight is transferring out of ISU, it was announced this week.

Kansas: I'm just going to paraphrase what I said at this time last year, because it's easier than writing new words for the exact same stuff...

Ho-hum — the Jayhawks won another conference championship and another tournament championship, lost only two conference games all season, earned a No. 1 seed, and might well 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.

But will the Jayhawks' occasional defensive lapses and lack of focus cost them like they did last year against UNI?

Kansas State: The Cats came crashing back to reality by snapping a six-game winning streak with a third loss to Colorado in the Big 12 Tournament. For whatever, reason, Frank's teams don't handle that No. 4 seed very well.

So what does it mean? Well, luckily, we're a No. 5 seed in the Big Dance. And it means that this is the same team it's always been — in a word, volatile. When hot, we're capable of beating the best the country can offer in Kansas and Texas. When not... well, we've seen plenty of that. No need to rehash.

A defensive effort like that seen in Kansas City will give Utah State a long-coveted first-round win. But if we can get back on the roll we were on before that little thud, there's no reason this team can't storm all the way to the Final Four in a wide-open and somewhat watered-down Southeast Region. Let the madness begin.

Missouri: Kim English thinks the Tigers quit against Texas A&M. Mike Anderson is a hot name in the Arkansas coaching search. With a "it nearly happened" loss to Texas Tech in Kansas City, Mizzou might have fallen to a play-in game in Dayton or out of the field entirely. Are these the end times in Columbia?

Well, here's what I wrote last year at this time:

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.

Other than the home game against KU being a little closer and actually winning a Big 12 Tournament game, it's hard to see any differences. But last year's team finished 10-6 and earned a higher NCAA seed. One wonders if MU fans aren't ready to see Anderson go, simply to embrace change.

But this is the month that can erase all woes. Underwhelming season? Go on a run. There's nothing wrong with the Fastest 40 Minutes that two consecutive wins over Big East teams, including last week's darling of Madison Square Garden, and a Sweet Sixteen appearance can't fix in a ninja hurry. This story is far from over.

Nebraska: Nothing really comes to mind. Appropriate for this bland, tasteless team, eh? The good news for the Nubbies is that they've actually won some NIT games in their history — and even an entire NIT, believe it or not — so this tournament should be a good fit for their underachieving program.

Sadler threw some parting shots our way, by the way, predicting more Big 12 "split-ups" in the future and saying the over-seeded Big Ten's seven NCAA bids, as opposed to the Big 12's five, meant it "looks like that league's much better than the league we're leaving, so that’s encouraging."

Just because the committee hangs from the Big Ten's nuts doesn't mean jack. Let's see who actually wins the games first, huh? And enjoy this week's Corn vs. Wheat Bowl, Doc, and your future 33-point games in the Big Ten snooze-fest Tournament.

With quotes like those, I won't really miss you, but that's only because I barely noticed you were there to begin with.

Oklahoma and Texas Tech: Let the Billy Clyde Gillispie Sweepstakes begin! One of these programs is going to be very happy in two weeks and one is going to remain an enigma. Or maybe both will remain an enigma, if Arkansas pulls a hog-wild end-around and beats them both to the hiring punch.

Oklahoma State: That was an inspired effort by the Pokes and a resurgent Keiton Page, but in the end, they were doomed by the same flaws that consigned them to the NIT.

I found it ironic that the margin of loss was just one point, considering the two absolutely bone-headed technical fouls in the first half that handed the Jayhawks two points on 2-of-4 shooting.

Also ironic was that Oklahoma State had the ball at the end of the game with a shot to win, just like Nebraska.

Although their discombobulated possession and pathetic final shot weren't quite as bad as Lance Jeter simply falling down, it still was a pretty bad choke job. In the end, OSU never beat a good team, and that's why they're NIT-bound.

Texas: I don't know what to make of Texas. Seems like we say that every year, but it's still true.

For two games in Kansas City, I thought the Longhorns had found their mojo again. They looked really good against Oklahoma and Texas A&M, and got back to defending at a high level.

But scratch below the surface, and the same problems still are there.

Jordan Hamilton still hasn't quite rediscovered his shooting touch. J'Covan Brown still is prone to fits of selfishness. Dogus Balbay still can't score. Tristan Thompson can't stay out of foul trouble. Matt Hill and Jai Lucas play too many minutes. Most disconcerting of all, Gary Johnson basically has disappeared.

Add it all up, and Kansas rolled to a dominant championship win. It was the perfect storm, just like its reverse, when Texas won at Allen Fieldhouse. But maybe that says more about Kansas than Texas. We''ll know more after this week.

Texas A&M: Last year, I wrote...

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.

Replace "Purdue" with "Notre Dame" and "Houston" with "San Antonio," and almost nothing has changed. Last year, TAMU wasn't quite good enough to escape the second round. This season, who knows? One thing's for sure: Mark Turgeon is sitting in a lot better shape than many other coaches in this league right now.

The Big 12: Clearly, the league is down from last year. That's to be expected, given all the great seniors we lost.

But falling from seven bids to five even as the Big East claimed a record 11 and the Big Ten an undeserved seven, and despite an expanded field? That's just crap.

Frank's right — this league continues to be disrespected. But we bring part of it on ourselves. Frank, Self and Barnes are the only coaches who truly challenge their teams in the non-conference season.

Instead of turtling next year, crying about an 18-game schedule, downgrading the schedule and pulling out of holiday tournaments (I'm looking at you, Turgeon), why don't we beef the November and December slates up a bit so this doesn't happen again?

I'd love to see the six Big 12 Tournament byes, going forward, become synonymous with a surefire NCAA appearance.

And with Gillispie likely returning to the fold, we have the coaches to get it done (assuming none of them bolt for Fayetteville). In the meantime, let's kick some ass in the Big Dance and make the selection committee eat a big ol' shitburger, in the immortal words of legendary manager and Charlie Sheen mentor Lou Brown.

 

What's Next?

This concludes BIG 12 OUTLOOK for the 2010-11 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 TOURNEY 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.

Luckily, I have a few more co-bloggers to lean on than at this time last year, so the overall blog activity shouldn't suffer overly much, I hope.

 

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. Two years ago, 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.

I was right. Mike Singletary's career ended with a whimper and a fired coach (kind of like a certain NFL coach with the same name). But he'll always have that one night in Oklahoma City.

 

Coach of the Week

BillSelf

Bill Self (Kansas)

Time to give the devil his due.

I snubbed Self for Boyle in the Botcy COTY race, and if Colorado had just had a little more gas in the tank, I might have looked like a genius.

But the man did what the man always does: Collect every available Big 12 trophy like they're going out of style. So here's your props, Bill — there's no other coach quite like you.

Most Underachieving Coach of the Week

ScottDrew

Scott Drew (Baylor)

Oh, happy day. My favorite whipping boy has returned to ignominy. Ol' Scotty seems to be in a hurry to scoop up as many of these as he can. I guess it's the self-destructive streak in him.

So, for wasting the all-time leading scorer in Big 12 history because you couldn't curb his selfishness, wasting a McDonald's All-American because you're too dumb to throw it into the post with any semblance of consistency, wasting a bunch of freakish athletes because of your slavish devotion to a middling zone, and wasting our time by mailing in for a 20-point loss to a team that subsequently fired its coach, despite his beating you twice this season, here's your sign.

 

All-Big 12 Tournament Team

AlecBurks MarcusDenmon KeitonPage TyshawnTaylor TristanThompson
Alec Burks Marcus Denmon Keiton Page Tyshawn Taylor
Tristan Thompson
Colorado Missouri
Oklahoma State Kansas
Texas

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.

Burks averaged 25.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in the three games. Moreover, the native son of Grandview was the star of the tournament. He wiled his team to victory over Iowa State, dominated against Kansas State and drew defensive attention away from Higgins, and kept the Buffs in it against KU longer than they had any right to be.

Denmon was the lone bright spot in a dismal loss to Texas A&M. He scored 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting against a good defensive team in a game his team never led.

Contrast that with his teammates' collective 13-for-45 performance in the same game and it looks even more impressive. He also averaged 3.5 steals in the two games Mizzou played.

Hm, noticing a distinct Kansas City flavor to this list? Who knows, maybe next year Will Spradling will be on here.

After a largely underwhelming season in which defenses were able to key upon him, Keiton Page blew up in a big way last week. He had 16 against Nebraska and 23 against Kansas.

All told, he was 12 of 25 from the field, 6 of 14 from 3-point range and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. And it was infectious. His shots inspired his teammates, who responded with their best "dunk nasty" face time after time.

I lost count of the number of times he touched the ball and elicited immediate groans from the Jayhawks faithful who surrounded me. Despite the loss, it was music to my ears.

With LeBryan Nash drawing all the attention next year, Page is poised for a monster senior season.

I've given Taylor a whole lotta crap over the years, so here's some credit where credit is due: As good as the rest of the Jayhawks were against Texas, Taylor was immaculate.

He netted a season-high 20 points, five assists and four rebounds. He drove Balbay insane. He played 37 minutes and kept Elijah Johnson on the bench for all but four.

For such an inconsistent player, it was the most consistent game he's played, and for that he should be commended.

Thompson is on this list as much for what he didn't do as for what he did. His inability to stay out of foul trouble limited him to just 21 minutes against Kansas, which let the Morris twins have their way with Matt Hill and Alexis Wangmene.

I thought it was the single biggest contributing factor in the Longhorn's loss. Without Thompson, they're mortal. We know firsthand how good he can be, as did his first two tournament opponents, who saw him score 27 points and grab 24 rebounds in two games.

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