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:
2014-15 BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Team – 1st Place Votes – Points Actual Finish Standings Difference
- Kansas – 5 – 78 1. Kansas 0
- Texas – 3 – 74 2. Iowa State +3
- Oklahoma – 1 – 67 3. Oklahoma 0
- Kansas State – 0 – 53 4. Baylor +2
- Iowa State – 0 – 51 5. West Virginia +2
- Baylor – 0 – 36 6. Oklahoma State +2
- West Virginia – 0 – 36 7. Texas -5
- Oklahoma State – 0 – 27 8. Kansas State -4
- TCU – 0 – 15 9. TCU 0
- 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
PAC 12 87.17
Atlantic 10 120.57
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.