Monday, January 8, 2018


Tom Keegan: Big 12 basketball race breaking into 3 tiers

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) signals the ball going the Jayhawks way during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) signals the ball going the Jayhawks way during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self tried to tell himself and the world last week that it’s too early to be thinking about winning the conference, but by week's end even he couldn’t help himself.

The Big 12 race is too compelling, and human nature, especially for highly competitive people, is too strong to do anything but study and discuss the race from the opening gun until somebody hits the tape as champion.

“You need to hold serve at home, but when you don’t, you have to go steal one and this was a steal, the way I look at it,” Self said after Kansas defeated TCU, 88-84, in Fort Worth in exciting fashion Saturday night.

When talking about how teams are faring, Self doesn’t mention their records. Instead, he uses plus or minus numbers, adding one digit for every road victory and subtracting a point for every home loss. He doesn’t add a number for either road losses or home victories.

In the actual standings, Texas Tech and West Virginia share first place with 3-0 records. Kansas and Oklahoma are tied for third at 2-1. Iowa State is alone in 10th at 0-3 and the other five members are tired for fifth at 1-2.

“We’re plus one,” Self said. “OU is plus one.”

They arrived at the same number in different ways, KU gaining two points for winning a pair of road games and subtracting one for losing a home game, the Sooners at plus one for winning a road game.

West Virginia, because it has two road victories and hasn’t lost at home is plus two. Texas Tech, with one road victory and no home losses is plus one.

“That’s kind of how I look at it,” Self said of his math. “We’re just three games in, but we’re not in great shape. We’re not in great shape by any stretch, but we’re not in bad shape by any means either. We’re kind of right there. If we’re able to play well at home this week (vs. Iowa State and Kansas State), then maybe we could put ourselves up near the top.”

Note he said near the top, not at the top. Not yet anyway.

“West Virginia and Tech have separated themselves, but if you can get five or six road wins, you’re going to have a great, unbelievable league record,” Self said. “We’re fortunate to have two so far.”

Even though just 17 percent of the results are in, the conference seems to be breaking itself into three tiers of quality this season (listed in alphabetical order): .

Tier I (NCAA tournament locks): Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Tier II (Right side of bubble): Baylor, Texas, TCU.

Tier III (Wrong side of bubble): Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.


Yonatan Negash 1 year ago

The top three teams in the Big 12, play each other this week:

Texas Tech at Oklahoma (one will lose)

West Virgina at Texas Tech (one will lose)

Ideal outcome:

Texas Tech loses at Oklahoma on Tuesday Then Texas Tech wins against West Virginia on Saturday

Other games that could come to play:

Baylor upsets West Virginia TCU upsets Oklahoma KU wins against ISU and KSU

Barry Weiss 1 year ago

all always want the top tier teams, except us, to lose on the road. that is my one wish.

Tim Orel 1 year ago

I always want the top tier teams (other than us) to lose at home. I think Self would agree, seeing as how that would be minus 1 in his system. I want everyone but KU to be vulnerable at home so when they take on KU they have some doubts. WV has owned KU in Morgantown and I would love for them to be vulnerable with some things that Self could take advantage of.

Robert Brock 1 year ago

West Virginia will crush Baylor.

Craig Carson 1 year ago

you can never assume anyone will crush anyone else..last year a terrible OU team beat WVU in just never know..WVU isnt the perfect team..they are very beatable and it wont take a top tier team to beat them

James Mathews 1 year ago

Oklahoma can beat you in so many ways no “trae” no win. I like this kids tenacity and drive, he’s like non-stop , damn if Kruger had been at UNLV we might have secured his services... enough for dreams. Texas Tech is so fundamentally balanced the never wavered. WV eehhhhh It’s good to see the B12 with such good teams top to bottom. Predictions are futile we will see what happens Desousa and Preston we need there services soooo bad

Harlan Hobbs 1 year ago

TCU already has blown two chances for big home victories against OU and KU. They led almost the whole game against OU before OU pulled it out at the end. On the other hand, they rallied to tie KU, but KU's experience and determination was just too much for them.

My gut tells me that we are going to have to win at least two of our three road games with WVU, Texas Tech, and OU to have a chance. If not, the home loss to Texas Tech, even if we continue to hold serve at home, will be the turning point.

It seems that every year the conference winner is predicted to have 5 losses. However, someone always gets a little momentum with a key road win and separates itself from the rest of the pack.

Right now, Texas Tech got momentum with the win at AFH, so we will have to see who gets the next big road win among the top tier. KU is in decent shape having won at Texas and TCU. However, unless Texas and TCU hold serve in their remaining big home games, it will be a wash.

Tony Bandle 1 year ago

Without Billy and/or Silvio, this discussion is moot.

Kent Richardson 1 year ago

Trae Young was exposed by WVU. They denied him the ball, Harassed him into eight TO's. He has a push off fake flop move that gets him fouls calls and unless the refs get wise will continue to give him 12 to 15 points a game at the line. He was so frustrated that Kruger benched him for a while in the first half. We don't have the defensive players to get that done so we should treat him like TCU treated DeVonte at crunch time and make him pay on drives and see if he holds up. Even if he doesn't get the 30 footers to fall he still gets 30 points because of the foul shots. WVU won the game slowing Young down (5 assists) and keeping OU from getting easy shots inside with their slapping at the ball strategy.

Mitch had 6 offensive rebounds at TCU. He will have to work to get half that against WVU or OU.

WVU and OU may be games where we are hitting threes and still get beat or we are not hitting and get blown out.

We are not a top NCAA tourney team by any means because we cannot be dominant with a chuck and duck personality.

Our three bench players be it Malik, Sam or Mitch are coming around along with Garrett.

Garrett is as ugly a free throw shooter as Doke and Malik has that cocked stance at the line like his three point form.

What's up with Lagerald? With his stoicism I can't tell if he is down or not.

DeVonte is definitely first team Big 12 so far. Nice work.

If the complete Svi shows up for every game from now on out he will get consideration too.

Doke is talented no doubt but he's just not a basketball player yet. The least instinctive of our top eight. He plays his butt off and we love that about him and he will be darn good next year and maybe late this year. I hope, hope, hope.

Huge three pointers at key times against TCU by Mitch, DeVonte and the Svister.

Have to win both games this week. Stokes is out, maybe for the year, so we need to take advantage.

Edward Daub 1 year ago

It doesn't take a "triple decker" brain to realize it is way,way too early to break the B12 Teams into 3 Tiers! 3 Conference Games out of a Total of 18 Games? As Tom points out , roughly 17%. I suggest Tom Keegan study Statistics and Learn about "Statistically Valid" Sample Size. And Bill Self''s Math is "fuzzy" at best, way too simplistic of a formula!

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