Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The 2014-15 Big 12 men’s basketball regular season is now in the history books.  As such, it’s time to look backward just a bit as we also look forward to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship that starts on Wednesday.

Let’s compare how the Big 12 teams ended up in the conference standings versus how the conference’s pre-season poll that was released on October the 89th ranked them.  Here’s how the pre-season poll’s contributors had the teams slated before the season began:


Team – 1st Place Votes – Points                 Actual Finish                                       Standings Difference

  1. Kansas – 5 – 78                                      1.            Kansas                                                  0
  2. Texas – 3 – 74                                        2.            Iowa State                                          +3
  3. Oklahoma – 1 – 67                               3.            Oklahoma                                             0
  4. Kansas State – 0 – 53                          4.            Baylor                                                   +2
  5. Iowa State – 0 – 51                              5.            West Virginia                                     +2
  6. Baylor – 0 – 36                                       6.            Oklahoma State                                +2
  7. West Virginia – 0 – 36                         7.            Texas                                                    -5
  8. Oklahoma State – 0 – 27                   8.            Kansas State                                         -4
  9. TCU – 0 – 15                                           9.            TCU                                                      0
  10. Texas Tech – 0 – 13                             10.          Texas Tech                                            0


According to the differences above Texas was the biggest disappointment, followed by Kansas State.  Iowa State was a pleasant surprise (for Cyclones fans) while Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State were all mildly positive surprises.  Kansas was no surprise, winning their 11th straight conference regular season crown.  TCU and Texas Tech weren’t surprises, either, although for all of the wrong reasons.

Here’s how I predicted the final Big 12 conference regular season records for each team right before Christmas:

Predicted            Actual                   Wins Delta

Kansas                     12-6                      13-5                            +1

Texas                       12-6                      8-10                            -4

Iowa State             11-7                      12-6                            +1

West Va.                 10-8                      11-7                            +1

Oklahoma              9-9                         12-6                            +3

Okla. State             9-9                         8-10                            -1

Baylor                      8-10                      11-7                            +3

TCU                           8-10                      4-14                            -4

Kansas St.               6-12                      8-10                            +2

Texas Tech             5-13                      3-15                            -2


I was way off on Texas and TCU.  Like many I was misled by the Horned Frogs running the table against their non-conference slate of opponents and thinking that TCU could perhaps approach .500 in Big 12 play.  Silly me!  I also thought Texas’ big front line would cause match-up nightmares for most of their opponents but the Longhorns never seemed to gel during the regular season and they are unquestionably the conference’s most disappointing team.  I even went as far as to say, “I’ll pick Texas to win the conference championship game in a tight one over Kansas.” Even sillier me!

As we enter the conference tournament later this week it is clear that Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor and West Virginia are virtually assured of being March Madness participants.  Oklahoma State is “iffy” in terms of an at-large bid (barring winning the conference tournament and getting the automatic bid) and Texas is even iffier.  Kansas State might need two wins in the conference tourney just to make the NIT.  TCU has a worthy won-loss record to make the NIT but with a 1-8 conference road record their invitation to the NIT might not materialize.

With hopes that I can do a bit better than I did in predicting the regular season results I’ll take a stab at predicting the Big 12 tournament games:

Texas vs. Texas Tech                      Texas                      Desperation mode continues for the Longhorns.

K-State vs. TCU                                 TCU                        TCU has played better in the schedule’s second half.

Texas vs. Kansas                               Kansas                  Desperation or not, UT doesn’t win this one.

Iowa State vs. TCU                          Iowa State             Seriously?

Baylor vs. WVU                                 WVU                     I’ll play the “Its hard to win 3 in one season” card.

Oklahoma vs. Ok. State                 Ok. State             Cowboys win the extended version of Bedlam.

Kansas vs. WVU                                 Kansas                  I’d love to call the upset, but I just can’t.

Ok. State vs. Iowa State                    Iowa State          Cyclones win a close one between three-point teams.

Kansas vs. Iowa State                     Kansas                  Not for a second straight year, Cyclones!


I’ll further predict the following NCAA tournament seeds:  Kansas – 2, Iowa State – 3, Oklahoma – 4, Baylor – 5, West Virginia – 6.

As far as the final regular season conference RPI rankings (taken from ESPN this morning) here’s how the conferences finished:


Big 12                    52.70

Big East                 69.20

Big Ten                 71.14

ACC                        76.67

PAC 12                  87.17

SEC                         87.71

Atlantic 10           120.57

American             134.64

West Coast         142.30

Mtn. West          151.00

Miss. Valley        159.20

Ohio Valley         226.92


The Big 12 had five teams in the Top 20 of the RPI.  Kansas was the top-rated RPI team virtually all season long and finished tied with Kentucky at No. 1.  The other Big 12 Top 20 RPI teams were Baylor – 10, Iowa State – 11, Oklahoma – 13 and West Virginia – 20.

Notice the substantial gap between the Big 12 and the nearest “Power 5” conference, the Big Ten – a difference of nearly 20 RPI points, which is huge in RPI numbers.  Look also at how tightly the Big East, Big Ten and ACC are packed, followed by another gap to get to the SEC and the PAC 12.  Anyone who says that the Big 12 isn’t the best Division conference in 2014-15 simply wants to argue for the sake of arguing and chooses to ignore the facts.

This time next week the respective conference tournaments will be over, the NCAA tournament brackets will be set and America’s annual workforce productivity hit in March will begin as workers watch their brackets unfold.  Here’s hoping your bracket wins your office’s pool and that the Big 12 fares well in The Big Dance.



Related Posts

WVU’s Michael Ferns adjusting to new role
Quick Hit: Geno Smith, Quinton Spain both leave games early with injuries
Shell carries No. 12 WVU past TCU