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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Big 12 basketball race heading into home stretch

Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans (12) puts up a three over Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans (12) puts up a three over Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The old rules no longer apply in Big 12 basketball. Not long ago, you could look at the rest of a team’s schedule and come pretty close to projecting the wins and losses.

Not now. The difference between the juggernauts and have-nots just isn’t the same. Not by a long shot.

Iowa State (4-9) stands alone in last place with a .308 winning percentage. The highest winning percentage (.250) for a Big 12 last-place team during the Bill Self era was recorded by Baylor in 2006.

A year later, the differential between the average scoring margin of the Big 12 champion, Kansas, was 30.4 points greater than Colorado’s. This season, West Virginia has the highest average scoring margin, Oklahoma State the lowest and the difference between them is just 11.3 points.

One more example of the narrowing of the gap from top to bottom came when Iowa State buried Texas Tech, 70-52, on Jan. 20. The worst was better than the best that night.

It all makes forecasting the Big 12 race with five games remaining such a guessing game.

Texas Tech (10-3) has a one-game lead on Kansas (9-4). Advantage Red Raiders.

Yet, Kansas has three home games remaining, Texas Tech two. Advantage Jayhawks.

KU and Tech both have to go to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State, so let’s remove that game from the equation when comparing schedules for the top two title contenders.

The Big 12’s game of the year — Kansas vs. Texas Tech, Feb. 24 in Lubbock, Texas — tips off at 3 p.m. Let’s remove that from the equation in comparing schedules, as well.

That leaves three games for each school. Tech plays at Baylor, at West Virginia and at home vs. TCU. The Bears are 5-2 at home, the Mountaineers 5-2 at home and TCU 2-5 on the road, which adds up to 11-9.

KU is at home vs. West Virginia (3-3 on the road), at home against Oklahoma (1-6 on the road) and at home against Texas (1-5 on the road), which adds up to 5-14 for KU’s opponents.

So Tech has a one-game lead and a tougher remaining schedule than Kansas. Advantage nobody.

Again, removing the head-to-head game from discussion for the moment, Kansas will be favored in every game it plays the rest of the way. Tech will be the underdog just once, at West Virginia.

If the favorite wins all of those games — that doesn’t happen as often as it once did — then the Big 12 title all comes down to the rematch of an 85-73 game won by Texas Tech in Allen Fieldhouse on a night KU made just 6 of 26 3-pointers and Tech dominated the boards, 44-29.

And then, there is the possibility of a three-way tie for the title. Here’s how that happens. West Virginia runs the table, pinning losses on Kansas and Tech. KU beats the Red Raiders and loses to either Texas or one of the Oklahoma schools.

So much can happen with five games left, but chances are decent that the winner of the Big 12 game of the year wins the conference title outright.

But first, Bob Huggins brings his Mountaineers to Allen Fieldhouse, two days before Trae Young takes aim at the fieldhouse rims for the first and only time.

Seldom a dull moment in the Big 12.

Comments

Yonatan Negash 6 months ago

As most know, KU has a 2 - 4 record against Big 12 opponents this year.

This season has proven we're no longer invisible at Allen Field House.

Somehow/someway, we've got to figure out a way to go 5-0 remaining of the season.

If there's any hope for another Big 12 title, there can't be anymore home losses.

Moving forward, all remaining games are MUST wins.

Tom Jones 6 months ago

Funny typo, because the reason we're not in first place is that our defense is sometimes invisible at Allen Field House.

Rick Golden 6 months ago

mite be a typo but we are 9-4 against the big 12 and 4-2 at home and 5-2 on road. If we finish 5-0 to finish season we will have more then a chance we will at least get a share of title for sure

Yonatan Negash 6 months ago

You are correct, home record is 4 and 2.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months ago

We're only one game out. Have faith.

John Swift 6 months ago

Good analysis. It appears that the Texas Tech-KU game will be for the Big 12 Championship. If KU wins out (all 5 remaining games), they will win at least a share of Big 12. If Tech wins out, they will own the title outright. The Big 12 championship is still within our grasp but we cannot nor should we expect help from another team to pin a loss on Texas Tech. Focus, Focus, Focus !!

Kent Richardson 6 months ago

I would say it is likely that we go to Lubbock with a chance to tie for #14. But that's down the road of course. Let's see if we can get it rolling starting with WVU. OU and Kruger will be super psyched to win at Allen. You know how we struggle at G-Iba too. No room for error.

Hope DeVonte still gets to take it easy in practice.

Steve Corder 6 months ago

Tom's correct. Home or away doesn't have the same distinction as before. Winner will be the one with grit and toughness for all of the next 5 games.

References to "energy" this game and not that game, or a player being in and out of a funk/slump does not project to a conference winner.

Scott Proch 6 months ago

Is this fun or what? Know coach has been reluctant in the past to cut down the nets when it's a share but this year a share of the title would be true cause for celebration! If he guides us through after the Bragg/Preston debacles, bringing Vick and Newman up to snuff mid-season and developing Dok quicker than it looked like they could, it will be HCBS best season ever.

Dirk Medema 6 months ago

Another sign of parity is ISUs 4 victories came against the top teams.

Crazy.

Harlan Hobbs 6 months ago

Love the article, and good post, Scott. I told my wife the other night during the first half at ISU that KU isn't that much fun to watch right now. However, with Dok dominating the second half and all of the starters getting into double figures, I changed my tune. Just another fickle fan, I guess!

Deep down, I think that Coach Self relishes this type of season because it forces you to grind out victories and find different ways to prevail. It is a challenge, and all the great coaches love a challenge. None better than Coach Self and his staff.

Barry Weiss 6 months ago

I have basically gotten to the place where I view every game we play now as a 50/50 game. Does not seem to matter whether it is home or away, the only thing that matters is our intensity we bring. Some games we do, some games we don't. A very unique year.

Jonathan Allison 6 months ago

I agree. Every game feels like a 50/50 at this point.

Craig Carson 6 months ago

KU winning out is a long shot..they have shown themselves very beatable at AFH with a tough game against WVU on Saturday..OU is playing like crap, but they might be is desperation mode..sweeping KU would do wonders for OU resume..Oklahoma state in Stillwater hasnt been kind to Self in his KU career, so that game is still a toss up..what KU needs is for TTU to drop a game against someone they shouldnt

Jonathan Allison 6 months ago

I agree, KU needs to beat TTU, and KU will probably still lose at least one game against WVU, OU, UT, OSU.

I think that TTU will lose at least one against Baylor, WVU, TCU, and OSU.

Good chance for KU and TTU to share the trophy, which would be good enough for KU to extend the streak to 14 and not have to share the record. But if TTU can win it outright it would be the story of the year in NCAA basketball.

Brad Watson 6 months ago

This Texas Tech team plays with heart and they get after people....I love watching them play....I do love college basketball....that said ...its ONE GAME at a time and we can win out and at least grab a share........Dok......great job....keep at it son.....hard work always pays off!

Tony Bandle 6 months ago

It would be nice to get Title #14 to stand alone above UCLA, however, in reality KU will never match UCLA's streak. From what I can gather, UCLA's streak was thirteen "stand alone "Championships. KU shared, I'm guessing, at least 4 of their Big 12 Championships.

This takes nothing away from the Hawks amazing accomplishment. Also, one thing to consider the Western Athletic Conference and Pac 8 conferences that UCLA dominated were not nearly as strong as the Big 12 has been during KU's streak!!!

Len Shaffer 6 months ago

I believe it is exactly four times that KU has shared the title, but the last one was quite a while ago. If KU can somehow pull a rabbit out of a hat and win this one outright, they may be able to keep the streak going long enough to get 14 consecutive stand-alone titles and truly top UCLA. How incredible would that be? (Of course it would be a lot more incredible if they could also throw in a couple more national titles.)

Tom Jones 6 months ago

UCLA also cheated. KU's streak is more impressive.

Joseph Bullock 6 months ago

Tony Bandle, great post, however, your 3nd paragraph, kind of contradicts your first paragraph! I say this because you are absolutely right in saying the conference UCLA played in was not as good as the.Big12! I would also add that KU is doing things with ‘one coach’, and there is a lot more parity in College Basketball now, than during UCLA’s streak!

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 6 months ago

At first glance I noticed how tom can't write paragraphs. Then I noticed he cannnot write sentences. Perhaps ljworld should get him a secretary to write for him. He has great ideas but damned if the man cannot write well.

Lawrence McGlinn 6 months ago

Is it just me? And is it because I no longer live in the Midwest? But the Big 12 championship has a "been there, done that" kind of feel for me. I am really more concerned with Final Fours and National Championships. I would trade some stinker years for more Final Fours. Anyway, if this team makes 3's and plays just a bit of D we could go way deep into the tournament. Nobody is dominant this year. We could also shoot poorly and lose in the first round....

Chad Smith 6 months ago

Texas Tech has to play at WVU and OSU. That could easily be two losses. One game at a time folks. We have WVU and OU here in the next 3 days. The good thing is we have experience and a winning pedigree with the best coach in the Big 12. Udoka is starting to play really well. He needs to keep fouls down, but otherwise he is becoming unstoppable in the post on offense. We need better on the ball defense from our perimeter players, but we still have time. Some good home showings the next two games would be do wonders for the confidence.

The road to the title still goes through Lawrence. Time to really dig in. These next couple weeks are exciting. ROCK CHALK

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