Jayhawks in prime position to earn 13th straight Big 12 title
If you followed along with my Gameday Chat yesterday you’d know that I made a light case that the Jayhawks already had locked up at least a share of Big 12 title No. 13 in a row.
That was before the epic comeback vs. West Virginia and it seems even more certain now.
Sure, the Baylor loss on Monday night helped. A two-game lead with five to play is a pretty good spot to be in. But it’s an even more pleasant place when you consider this: Kansas could lose at Baylor on Saturday and still not be worried.
Since Big 12 play began back in December, no conference team (other than Kansas, which opened Big 12 play 7-0) has ripped off five consecutive conference wins, which is likely what it would take for the Bears to dethrone Kansas.
Taking that notion one step further, half of the Big 12’s 10 teams have just five conference wins or fewer this entire season.
West Virginia is too far back now to be a factor and Baylor still has to navigate home games with Kansas and WVU and a road trip to Ames, Iowa. A loss in any one of those games pretty much ends it for the Bears.
But let’s say Baylor gets red hot and wins all five games. Kansas then would have to go 2-3 to not win a share of the title. For a team that sits 11-2 through 13 games, it’s hard to envision them losing 3 of 5 to close the season.
What’s more, if you’re looking at schedules alone, you’d have to give the advantage to Kansas in that department, too.
With home games remaining against Oklahoma and TCU and road games at Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State, Kansas likely needs only to win the two games at Allen Fieldhouse to maintain its position at the top of the Big 12 standings.
Baylor still has to play 3 of the Top 4 teams in the current standings and, like Kansas, also plays at Texas.
The combined Big 12 record of KU’s five remaining opponents is 26-35. The record of Baylor’s five remaining foes? 32-30. Advantage Kansas.
A case could be made for KU losing two of the five games fairly easily. At Baylor at Saturday will be a bear, no pun intended, and closing the season at Oklahoma State looms as a difficult task, as well. KU has lost three straight in Stillwater.
But, again, even if KU were to drop those two games, Baylor would have to win out to move into a tie with Kansas. If Baylor loses even just one game, Kansas would then have to lose at Texas or home against TCU or Oklahoma to finish in a tie.
And, on the flip side, if Baylor loses one of its five remaining games, Kansas could lose both at Baylor and at OSU and still win the thing outright, which is exactly the goal this team has in mind year after year.
Even though Kansas sits in the perfect position to keep its Big 12 title streak alive, it has been a crazy season in the Big 12 and the conference is tough from top to bottom so it’s not safe to take anything for granted and you can bet the Jayhawks will not.
But regardless of what lies ahead and all of the scenarios that still could play out, one thing is certain: Kansas can basically lock it up with a win on Saturday at Baylor.
A win in Waco would put the Jayhawks up three games with four to play.
As a parting note, here’s a quick look at each team's longest 2016-17 conference winning streaks in the Big 12 this season:
Kansas – 7
Baylor – 4
Oklahoma State – 4
TCU – 3
West Virginia – 3
Iowa State – 2
Kansas State – 2
Oklahoma – 2
Texas – 1
Texas Tech – 1
Current Big 12 standings (as of Feb. 14)
Kansas — 11-2
Baylor — 9-4
West Virginia — 8-5
Iowa State — 7-5
TCU — 6-6
Kansas State — 5-7
Oklahoma State — 5-7
Texas Tech — 5-8
Texas — 4-8
Oklahoma — 2-10