Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 28th, 2011

Owen Kemp of Rock Chalk Talk and SB Nation Kansas City is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

A Look Back

This week in the Big 12 featured another upset on top along with a fair amount of jockeying in the middle as the tournament bubble becomes more and more crowded. Monday night, the Kansas Jayhawks squared off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in their last Big Monday appearance.  The news of the day surrounding the Jayhawks was the suspension of junior starting point guard Tyshawn Taylor.  Taylor remains with the team and the violation is viewed as minor, but the fact that Kansas is dealing with another player missing time down the stretch is a bit of a concern.  As for the game on the court, Kansas didn’t skip a beat and Taylor’s replacement, Elijah Johnson, scored 15 points including a perfect 4-4 performance from beyond the arc.

Tuesday featured the Iowa State Cyclones heading on the road to take on the Longhorns.  The game was never really in doubt, as Texas eventually won by 23 and got back on track following the loss to Nebraska.

Wednesday was a day that had the potential to separate those on the bubble and those slowly falling off.  Missouri faced off against Baylor in a game the Bears could have used in a big way.  However, the impressive run of the Tigers in Columbia continues and after keeping it close for a time Baylor fell apart.  For Mizzou, it was an 18-point win to move the Tigers into fourth place in the Big 12 standings.

Elsewhere, Colorado kept their slim hopes alive with a close win over Texas Tech in Lubbock.  The three-point road win moved the Buffaloes to 6-7 in the conference and 17-11 overall and while the win on its own wasn’t enough to put Colorado back in the conversation, what they would accomplish later in the week was.

The big matchup on the night featured a trip by the Kansas State Wildcats into Lincoln where Nebraska and Kansas State were both battling for more stable footing.  The Wildcats entered the game considered a team in pretty good position as far as a tournament bid, but Doc Sadler’s Husker team had a chance to boost their hopes in a big way with a win.  The game was close throughout but the Huskers could never get enough consistency on the offensive end as Kansas State would win by four.

Rounding out the Wednesday action was an easy win by Texas A&M over Oklahoma in College Station.  The Aggies have quietly separated themselves in the three spot in the league, but with two tough late season tests, Kansas State and Missouri could easily threaten that.

Saturday is always the premier day of the week in the Big 12, and just like last Saturday, the Texas Longhorns fell in an upset on the road.  Despite jumping out to a 22-point lead, the Longhorns couldn’t hold off a monster day from guard Alec Burks as Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes made their most convincing argument for the tournament bubble in a win.  As for the loss, it means that the Longhorns now sit tied with the Kansas Jayhawks on top of the league as Kansas handled Oklahoma on the road and both teams sit 12-2.

Outside of the Texas upset, there were two more minor upsets in the league when Texas A&M lost to Baylor in Waco and the Missouri Tigers fell in Manhattan.  The win by Kansas State doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as Frank Martin’s team is playing very well of late and looks like a team recovering from rock bottom in early January.

The three upsets mean that the three through seven spots in the conference are separated by just two games and all seven teams, including Colorado and Baylor, now have a very real opportunity to make a late push for another large Big 12 representation in the NCAA Tournament.

Power Rankings

Quick Disclaimer: Power rankings are not meant to be a poll.  They are meant to reflect who is playing the best basketball at a given time.

 1. Kansas (27-2, 12-2) – Kansas continues to be extremely efficient offensively and the door is now reopened for a seventh straight conference title.

2. Texas (24-5, 12-2) Texas loses for the second consecutive Saturday against a team in the league with a below .500 record.  The Longhorns have a few chinks in the armor of late, especially on the offensive end, but they still control their own destiny in terms of winning the league.

3. Kansas State (20-9, 8-6) One month ago, the Wildcats looked like they could very easily find themselves in the NIT.  In the last month, Jacob Pullen has started to play like the POY candidate that many expected and while Kansas State was probably overrated to start the year, they have fought their way back to reality and that puts them as a pretty good team that can make some noise in March.

4. Texas A&M (22-6, 9-5) – A&M has been flying under the radar of late and at the moment, they hold the third position in the standings, giving them that all important first day bye.  Overall though, they haven’t been as impressive as some so it drops them down a bit in the power rankings.

5. Missouri (22-7, 8-6) – Can a team win the tourney when they have been so bad away from home all year?  Honestly, Missouri does seem to sneak up on people in March so they are tough to count out, but the difference between at home and on the road is staggering.

6. Colorado (18-11, 7-7) – Colorado went from a team looking to be down for the count to a team firmly on the bubble with what amounts to a fairly impressive resume.

7. Baylor (18-10, 7-7) – Baylor continues to be as up and down as ever.  The win over Texas A&M keeps them in the hunt, but the team is definitely at risk of going from Elite 8 to NIT.

8. Nebraska (18-10, 6-8) – The loss to Kansas State is one that can be lived with, but losing to Iowa State all but ruins the Huskers hopes for a tournament bid.

9. Oklahoma State (17-11, 5-9) The Cowboys had a strong non-conference season, but they haven’t put together the conference resume to make a play.  The good news is that of the bottom four teams, the Cowboys might have the brightest future.

10. Texas Tech (12-17, 4-10) Tech didn’t win but they were close in both contests.  That’s just enough to keep them ahead of Oklahoma.  It’s still fairly amazing that Pat Knight’s name rarely comes up in any discussion of coaches on the hot seat.

11. Oklahoma (12-16, 4-10) – Another week, another two losses.  The common theme when you look at the two teams at the bottom of the Big 12 is a complete lack of depth.  The good news is that both OU and ISU look to have pieces in place to improve.

12. Iowa State (15-14, 2-12) – The Cyclones snag a second win this week and send the Huskers limping to the Big 10.

A Look Ahead

This week is HUGE for the Big 12, starting with the two teams battling it out up top.   The Texas Longhorns have games against red-hot Kansas State and a trip to Baylor remaining on the schedule.  After two consecutive Saturday losses, the confidence isn’t as high in Austin and a possible one-seed and the Big 12 title are very much at stake.

Meanwhile, the biggest competition for Texas, the Kansas Jayhawks, have two pretty tough matchups themselves.  First off the Texas A&M Aggies head into Lawrence for senior night where Kansas hasn’t lost in a very long time. The game that could be the do-or-die moment will come next Saturday when Kansas heads into Columbia where Missouri is a different team and the Tigers will be fired up as they look to keep their bitter rival from winning or sharing the league for a seventh straight season.

Tuesday night features a winnable game and really a must-win game for current bubble team Baylor.  The Bears head on the road to Stillwater and need to get a win over the Cowboys.

Wednesday night is huge for the Colorado Buffaloes as they head on the road to Ames in a game that could secure a .500 conference record.  Like Baylor, this is a must win for the Buffaloes as they currently sit on the bubble with the chance to close out strong.

Saturday, the league wraps up the regular season with Texas taking on Baylor and Kansas and Missouri locking horns, though a Nebraska/Colorado tilt could be just as big in the overall conference picture heading into March.

It’s been an incredibly balanced and unpredictable year across the Big 12 and the final week has storylines building for multiple teams.  Now it’s just a matter of who rises to the challenge.

Player of the Year Watch: One week left and the preseason pick has surged back to the front of the pack, a darkhorse candidate puts his name back in the mix and the two players on teams battling it out at the top continue to put forth a strong argument.

Marcus Morris, Kansas – (19 PPG, 7.6 RPG): Morris is one of the most efficient offensive players in the country and he has the chance to lead his team to a seventh consecutive league title and a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

  1. Jacob Pullen, Kansas State – (21.8 PPG, 3.4 APG): Pullen is coming on strong at just the right time and might mean more to his team of late than anyone in the league.  If voting were today, Pullen would have to like his chances. How much should voters penalize him for his team’s slow start?
  2. Jordan Hamilton – (18 PPG, 7.9 RPG): Hamilton shoots just 7-24 in a loss to Colorado.  The game is another signal that as Jordan Hamilton goes offensively, so goes the fate of the entire Longhorn attack.
  3. Alec Burks, Colorado – (20.3 PPG): Burks is an impressive offensive player and without him, Colorado isn’t even close to the bubble.  He’s a big time talent and led his team to a big time win over #5 Texas.
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Best and Worst Coaching Jobs This Season

Posted by zhayes9 on January 21st, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Ultimately, it comes down to the players.

Any humble coach will admit, even after accomplishing such feats as a conference title, Final Four berth or national championship, that players decide the outcome of games. Dean Smith repeatedly refused to take credit for his endless list of achievements, constantly effusing praise towards his players during his historic run on the sidelines at North Carolina. Just last season, Mike Krzyzewski raved about the growth of his team and his three seniors on the podium in Indianapolis following his fourth national championship as Duke head coach.

Still, coaches are far from meaningless, especially in collegiate athletics. They’re in charge of developing their kids from freshmen to seniors, running practices and infusing life lessons, recruiting and scheduling, managing fragile egos and making vital in-game adjustments. Coaches are the face of the basketball program and responsible for the accomplishments and failings of said program. Albeit a tricky exercise filled with plenty of variables, let’s try to highlight some of the best and worst coaching jobs of the college basketball season thus far and the reasoning for why these 12 coaches deserve either a heaping piece of the blame pie or an even larger slice of the glory.

UL's success has turned Pitino-related attention from off to on the floor

Best Coaching Jobs

Rick Pitino– One of the premier programs in college basketball, Louisville has faced seemingly endless hardships and obstacles since their Elite Eight berth in 2009. Despite star center Samardo Samuels bolting early and the loss of senior backcourt cogs Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith, the Cardinals sit at 15-3 (4-1) in the vicious Big East. But the loss of Samuels was just the beginning of the nightmare: heralded recruit Justin Coleman didn’t quality academically, Memphis transfer and impact shooter Roburt Sallie lost his case for immediate eligibility and starting power forward/leading returning scorer Jared Swopshire needed season-ending surgery on his groin. Overcoming such odds is a challenge, but the coaching genius of Pitino, a hectic full-court press that often masks talent disparity and the three-point heroics of Preston Knowles have the 15th-ranked Cardinals achieving what even the most ardent ‘Ville supporter couldn’t have imagined during a supposed rebuilding season. Give Pitino tons of credit for keeping the ship afloat.

Seth Greenberg– The preseason top 25 Hokies haven’t lit the world on fire this season. They sit at a pedestrian 12-5 (3-2) with decent wins against Oklahoma State, Florida State and at Maryland and blown opportunities against quality opponents along the way. It could have been so much worse given the vast number of injuries that Virginia Tech has sustained, though. Third leading scorer Dorenzo Hudson and expected frontcourt contributors J.T. Thompson, Cadarian Raines and Allan Chaney are all gone. Greenberg has had to manage with a rotation about six or seven deep and also dealt with moving little-used sophomore guard Erick Green to the full-time role of point guard in order for Malcolm Delaney to operate off the ball. Green has blossomed and the Hokies appeared to be an NCAA team with a statement double-digit win last night at Maryland. Not many programs could have overcome such a breadth of injuries up front.

Randy Bennett– Saint Mary’s isn’t Duke, Kansas or Ohio State. Losing all-WCC center and team leader Omar Samhan (21.3 PPG, 10.9 RPG) and not missing a beat is a daunting task for a program located in Moraga, Calif. Utilizing an Australian pipeline second to none in the sport, Bennett and his lethal backcourt tandem of Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova have the Gaels ranked despite the subtraction of Samhan. Non-power conference NCAA Tournament mainstays like Butler, Gonzaga and Xavier are known for perennially replacing key contributors while other programs take 2-3 seasons to reload. Players like Rob Jones and Mitchell Young stepping in seamlessly for Samhan shows that Bennett is building something awfully similar in the Bay Area.

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ATB: It’s Jimmer’s World, We’re Just Living In It

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2011

The Lede.  The schedule was light on this particular January night, but the storylines were not.  The nation’s top two scorers did their thing on opposite sides of the country, drawing favorable comparisons to the epic battle between Duke’s JJ Redick and Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison a few years ago.  There were a couple of overtime games between old rivals, and even an RTC (whether it was warranted is open for debate).  No matter where you live, you’re probably socked in by snow (48 states have the white stuff on the ground right now) so there’s no excuse for you to have missed anything.  There’s simply not much better than being in a warm gym on a cold winter’s night during conference play, but we suppose that one of things would be if you were on your own couch able to flip back and forth between games.  Let’s see what happened out there tonight, starting with this…

Your Watercooler MomentJimmer’s 47 Points Lights the World on Fire.  And it wasn’t even his career high (remember last year’s 49-point explosion at Arizona?).  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette continued to make his case for NPOY with a 47-point conflagration in his biggest rival’s house tonight — at Utah.  How ridiculously on fire was he tonight?  He had 32 points by the half, and if you watch the above video where he hits a 40-footer at the buzzer, you’ll note that even the Ute fans were cheering his performance. In one of the bitterest rivalries in the country, greatness is still recognized.  Here’s his line for tonight: 16-28 FG, 6-9 3FG, 9-9 FT for 47 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals.  Yes, somehow Fredette managed to find time to triple the assist output of the entire Texas Tech team this evening.  While his output tonight wasn’t his career high, it was notable in that it pushed him above 2,000 points for his career at BYU, joining Danny Ainge, Michael Smith and Devin Durrant in that elite group.  What else can be said about this guy?  It’s not just that he scores, it’s that he does it in ways that we haven’t seen regularly since the halcyon days of Redick/Morrison, with guys pulling up just beyond the hash mark and draining bombs like they were free throws.  He has become must-watch television for any college basketball fan this year in much the same way as those two, and if you can’t find something to like in his story, then we’re afraid that we simply can’t help you to enjoy this sport.  Tonight Jimmer became the top candidate for NPOY in a crowded race; it’s now up to Nolan Smith, Jared Sullinger, Kemba Walker and the rest to respond — your turn, fellas.

One final note: It’s nice to see the national media giving Fredette his dues and propers.  Scott Van Pelt interviewed him on SportsCenter tonight as their lead-in.  Here is that interview.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Sparty Turnaround? Michigan State could not afford to lose to Wisconsin at home tonight, and thanks to a 9-0 closeout run to send the game to overtime, they managed to avoid just that by winning the game in the extra period.  There was an air of desperation in the final minutes of this one tonight, as with another loss Tom Izzo’s team would have dropped to 10-6 and 2-2 in the Big Ten.  Instead, MSU’s unlikely comeback against a team that simply doesn’t make many mistakes will serve to inspire confidence in a team that has had its confidence battered and bruised so far this season.  Still, we wouldn’t read too terribly much into this — some writers may think this could change the direction of the Spartan season in some significant way, but we won’t buy into that.  The Spartans are the flawed but talented team that they are, and nobody should expect that they’re going to now go on some ten-game winning streak as a result of tonight.  They’re just not that kind of a team.
  • The Ivy League.  The more ACC wins that Boston College notches (the Eagles moved to 3-0 tonight with a home win over NC State), the better the Ivy League looks.  After all, the Ancient Eight has a 2-0 record against the Eagles this season, with both Harvard (for the third year in a row) and Yale taking out Steve Donahue’s team this year.  As we mentioned in today’s All in the Family post, BC has a reasonable shot to get to 5-0 in the conference before taking a loss.  The Eagles’ next two games are at Miami (FL) and versus Virginia at home.  BC’s statistical profile is a little lot ridiculous — they’re the fourth most efficient offensive team in America, but #200 on the other end of the court.  The only power conference teams worse than BC in that regard are Arizona State, Auburn and Wake Forest.
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 13th, 2010

Owen Kemp of Rock Chalk Talk and SB Nation Kansas City is the RTC Correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

A Look Back

  • The run of non-conference tune-ups continues around the league, with teams facing a smattering of lower tier programs as is customary for this time of year. Still, an increasing number of compelling matchups are developing.  In-state rivalries, top-25 matchups, overtime excitement and a statement game all make an appearance in this week’s look back.  The first big game of the week in the Big 12 came as part of the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden.  Kansas and Memphis took to the court as top 15 opponents, but at the end of the day, a Memphis team that is very young looked very young and Kansas walked away with the win in its first matchup with a ranked opponent.  It was a game that was expected to kick off a great week of Big 12 basketball, but the majority of the excitement ended up kicking off a day later.
  • On Wednesday, the Big 12 slate featured six games. Texas Tech’s struggles continued with a loss to TCU, the same TCU that would get throttled by Nebraska later in the week.  The seat in Lubbock could be getting very hot for Pat Knight.  The Red Raiders sit 5-5 and it’s not looking like expectations will be met.  In Colorado, the Buffaloes played in-state rival Colorado State.  As in many rivalries, the game was a back and forth overtime thriller.  Tad Boyle and Colorado continue to look like a team beginning to find themselves and the win in overtime was a good test for CU.  On that same night, Vanderbilt took a trip to Columbia and battled Missouri into their second overtime contest of the year.  Marcus Denmon continues to make a name for himself in the early going. He was instrumental in the second half of the contest after a very slow start.  In classic Missouri fashion, the game ultimately ended on a Denmon steal that led to a layup on the other end with only seconds remaining.
  • In a rare Friday night contest, the Iowa State Cyclones went into Iowa City and took a game from Iowa.  The win moves the Cyclones to 8-2 and further legitimizes the team as a potential surprise success story in coach Fred Hoiberg’s first year.  Junior guard Scott Christopherson led the charge with 30 points and is looking like one of the most improved players in the league early.
  • Saturday saw eight teams in action and the Big 12 finished the day with eight wins.  The big one on the day took place in College Station, where Mark Turgeon and the Aggies made a statement with a win over #22 Washington as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.  The Aggies have looked better than expected in the early going, and this game more than solidified the team as a tournament player and further speaks to the job that Turgeon is doing at Texas A&M.
  • Late Sunday, it was announced that Wally Judge will be out of action indefinitely for Kansas State, with Frank Martin citing personal reasons. His absence does nothing to quell the inconsistencies in the Wildcats’ frontcourt.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (9-0) –  All week, Kansas coach Bill Self has not been particularly pleased with his team’s performance.  The knock on the Jayhawks is that they don’t know how to put teams away.  Despite all that, they’re winning games by wide margins and doing so while playing at less than their potential. Christmas will come early for Jayhawk fans, when stud recruit Josh Selby becomes fully eligible at the end of the week against USC.
  2. Texas A&M (9-1) – A&M has been answering the bell in the early going.  This week’s win against Washington made a statement that they are a team to be reckoned with in the Big 12 South. Khris Middleton and David Loubeau are leading the way, with perimeter contributions from Nathan Walkup.
  3. Kansas State (9-1) – Kansas State seems like a team struggling to live up to their preseason hype just a bit.  They’re a talented group, Frank Martin has proven his abilities as a coach, but they just haven’t quite clicked on a night in night out basis.  The loss of Denis Clemente might be the source of some of the problems, but it’s a long season and it’s a group that works too hard not to eventually find the answer.
  4. Missouri Tigers (8-1) – Missouri continues to play in some of the more exciting games of the early season.  After coming up short against Georgetown, the Tigers met Vanderbilt in an overtime contest that the Tigers would win by three.  Probably the biggest news in Columbia is the emergence of two leaders, Marcus Denmon in the backcourt and Ricardo Ratliffe in the frontcourt.  These two have the ability to lead Missouri to a conference title, but it’s still a work in progress.
  5. Baylor (6-0) – The Bears took an entire week off.  They currently sit as the only team to have played fewer than nine games in the nonconference and Scott Drew has done very little to challenge his team.  Struggling Gonzaga pays a visit to Dallas at the end of the week, where Baylor will look to score a win in the alumni stronghold.
  6. Texas (7-2) – The loss to USC has raised questions and scaled back expectations a bit in Austin. This week, a big win over a cupcake opponent and just a week from now, the Longhorns get an opportunity to make a statement with games against North Carolina and Michigan State.  That stretch of games a year ago signaled the beginning of the infamous slide.
  7. Oklahoma State (9-1) – The Cowboys continue to cruise through the non-conference and they are a team that has the makeup to compete with the other Big 12 South players.  Travis Ford has things going in Stillwater and Marshall Moses is playing like a man possessed, more than doubling his production from a season ago.
  8. Iowa State (8-2) – Fred Hoiberg is getting it done in Ames.  The team moves to a surprising 8-2 after wins against Southeast Missouri, Iowa and Texas Southern.  Scott Christopherson is third in the country in triples made (35), sporting a fiery 59.3% clip from deep. Freshman Melvin Ejim is proving to be a difference-maker early for the Cyclones.
  9. Colorado (5-3) – Colorado won in overtime against in state rival Colorado State.  The concern is that the bigs for Colorado State had a field day.  The Buffaloes have the horses in the backcourt, but on the interior, they have a lot to prove.
  10. Nebraska (8-2) – Another week, another two wins for Doc Sadler and the Cornhuskers.  The 11-man rotation in Lincoln is starting to turn a few into believers, but have been light on notable wins.  This is a team that can probably compete in the middle tier of the conference, but they lack a go-to player (different players have lead the team in scoring in each of the Huskers’ last five games) and the overall talent to get over the hump.
  11. Texas Tech (5-5) – At this point, about the only thing keeping Tech above Oklahoma is that they’ve at least been competitive in losing.  It will be interesting to see if Pat Knight can keep his team on board or if as the seat gets hotter, is this a team that packs it in.
  12. Oklahoma (5-5) –  Two wins this week, which was a much-needed change following a five-game skid dating back to the week before Thanksgiving.  This is still a team with a fragile psyche, but one positive is the emergence of Andrew Fitzgerald as a team leader in the frontcourt.  A year ago, Fitzgerald was a minor role player, but he now plays more than 30 minutes a game and leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.

A Look Ahead

  • A very slow week in the league as is often the case when students are in the middle of finals.  The light at the end of the tunnel does exist however, and it comes in the form of a ten-game schedule next Saturday.
  • Kansas State heads to Florida in a Power Six matchup to highlights the day.  Frank Martin has taken steps in the early going to challenge his basketball team, and this is another game that will help develop the toughness that Martin and the Wildcats take such pride in.
  • Two other matchups that had a little more fanfare a few weeks ago include Baylor taking on Gonzaga in Dallas and Texas heading to North Carolina to battle the Heels in Greensboro.  To start the season, Gonzaga and UNC were top 15 teams.  Both have struggled and fallen off.   This will still be one of Baylor’s biggest early season tests and for Texas, it represents an opportunity to make a few more believers as they sit almost a year removed from the beginning of last season’s collapse.
  • The biggest story on Saturday has to be the debut of top ranked freshman Josh Selby in Lawrence when the Jayhawks take on the USC Trojans.  The Jayhawks have been a pretty good team in the early going and all eyes will be on KU to see how the team dynamic changes with the addition of Selby.

Stats, Quotes and Other Notables

  • “To all the fans that jump on and off the bandwagon who think we suck, go cheer for somebody down the road then” – Jacob Pullen, calling out Kansas State fans who are expressing frustration over some of the early-season growing pains.
  • 5.8 Seconds.  – Time left on the clock when Marcus Denmon came up with a steal and a game-clinching layup to beat Vanderbilt in overtime.
  • 27-20 – The Big 12’s all time record in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood series which concluded its final year on Saturday.
  • 7-12 –  Scott Christopherson’s three point field goal line from Friday nights win over ISU in-state rival Iowa.

Player of the Year Watch

  • Jacob Pullen – (16.3 PPG, 4 APG, 40% FG) Even.  Pullen called out a fanbase and seems to have a little fire in his belly.  Keep an eye on his upcoming games, a focused senior leader can be a very good thing.
  • Marcus Morris – (16.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 64% FG) Even.  Morris added five assists, two blocks and two steals to his versatile array of production this week when the Jayhawks took on Memphis. A knee injury sustained against Colorado State gave fans a scare, but he later returned.
  • Alec Burks – (20.5 PPG, 48% FG) Even.  Burks had a big game in a win over Colorado State.  If he can improve his numbers from behind the arc, he’s got the rest of his game going well enough to be a problem for just about anyone.
  • Jordan Hamilton – (20 PPG, 7.0 RPG) Trending down.  Other Longhorns are stepping up to the plate and the big numbers that were coming early have leveled off a bit as the team has settled in.
  • LaceDarius Dunn – (22.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 53% FG) Even.  No change, no games.  Baylor sat idle all week.
  • Marcus Denmon – (16.4 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 51% 3P%) Even.  Denmon was the man of the hour in the Tigers win over Vanderbilt.  19 second half points and a late steal to secure the win just a day after his cousin was shot and killed in Kansas City.
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 6th, 2010

Owen Kemp of Rock Chalk Talk and SB Nation Kansas City is the RTC Correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

A Look Back

This week saw the return of more great Big 12 basketball to Sprint Center in Kansas City as well as a week highlighted by matchups around the league taking place as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

  • The first major action of the week tipped on Tuesday night as Missouri played host to the #14 Georgetown Hoyas at Sprint Center in Kansas City.  The game represented the first true test for the Tigers, and much like Texas did early on against Pittsburgh, Missouri might have said plenty about what they have to offer despite a loss.  Georgetown hit the court with a haymaker jumping out to an early 18-point lead while Mizzou struggled to find their way.  After settling in, the Tiger pressure started to pay off and lead to points in transition.  From there the fastest 40 minutes of basketball finally got underway.  Missouri brought the game all the way back and held a lead late only to see it erased by a last-second lead and a brilliant overtime frame from Hoya guard Jason Clark.  Either way, the game made a statement for Mizzou.  They still have work to do in the halfcourt, but with the addition of Ricardo Ratliffe and the ability to force teams into their brand of basketball, Mizzou will be tough.
  • Thursday featured more action in the Big 12/Pac-10 challenge with Kansas, MU and Baylor all claiming wins over their respective opponents. The big news early? The way the Jayhawks won.  Kansas struggled at home against a resurgent UCLA team and after a Bruin three-pointer looked to have both teams headed to overtime, Kansas’ Mario Little drew a foul with seven tenths of a second on the clock.  Kansas would win 77-76.
  • Friday night, the Kansas State Wildcats took on Washington State.  Popular preseason Preseason POY candidate Jacob Pullen stumbled a bit and was a non-factor for most of the game.  Fortunately, the supporting cast handled business and K- State was able to secure a five-point victory to push the Big 12 to a 6-0 record to start the series.
  • Saturday saw three teams continue the series with Texas Tech being blown out by the Washington Huskies after escaping with a close win early in the week against Oral Roberts.  At this point, Pat Knight has his team at what many would consider a disappointing 5-4 early season record and buzz is building that Knight could be on the hot seat.
  • Elsewhere, Iowa State continued to look better than expected early.  While the Cyclones still lost the game in Ames, Cal is no cakewalk and the Cyclones were in the game until the very end before losing by just three.
  • The lone winner from the Big 12 on the day was from Colorado, who will soon be departing for the Pac-10.  Tad Boyle’s team looked like a group turning a corner in a 26-point win over Oregon State.   The Beavers are far from a good team, but Colorado might just be getting closer to being the team that many expected.

Big 12 Power Rankings

  1. Baylor (6-0) – The Bears looked the most impressive of any team this week, leading to the top spot nod in the power rankings.  They’re long, athletic and they can beat you in a variety of ways.  Scott Drew looks to have reloaded after losing a few players following last season’s Elite Eight run.
  2. Kansas (7-0) – After looking like a finished product through a few early season cupcakes, Kansas has plenty of room to improve.  UCLA took the Jayhawks to the brink with an impressive performance, and for the moment, Kansas drops a spot until they can find a way to better manage their defense on the interior.
  3. Kansas State (7-1) – The Wildcats are still getting used to being the hunted and Jacob Pullen is learning what it means to have all the attention.  Kansas State is handling business as expected against lesser competition, but like Kansas, when the level of play ticks up, things tend to get interesting.
  4. Missouri Tigers (6-1) – The Tigers might have shown as much about who they are in a loss as they have all year.  Despite losing to Georgetown they fought back from a big deficit, had the game in hand and played Mike Anderson basketball before dropping the game in overtime. Two days later, they went to Oregon and scored a nice win on the road to put the tough loss behind them.
  5. Texas (6-1) – Texas beat a bad team handily.  They play USC late Sunday night after this report wraps up so there’s a possibility they could make an argument for a higher spot, but for now other teams just did more to look good in a power ranking.
  6. Texas A&M (7-1) – The Aggies handled business against two lesser opponents.  Their depth and the multiple weapons on the interior continue to be a strength.  Circle next Saturday’s game against Washington as the Aggies will face a big test against the Huskies. With their top players still averaging less than 30 minutes per game, and ten players averaging at least ten minutes per game, Mark Turgeon is still trying to find the best rotation.
  7. Oklahoma State (7-1) – Oklahoma State was one of the teams expected to drop off after the Big 12 experienced one of the most successful seasons in its history a year ago. That doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case.  The perceived weakness on the interior has actually been a strength with Marshall Moses continuing to lead the way. They still need to prove they can hang with quality opponents (just one game against a KenPom top 50 squad, which they lost at home).
  8. Colorado (4-3) – After losing at Harvard a week ago, this looked like a team dead in the water early.  However, in a couple blowouts this week, Colorado looks like they could be turning a corner.  They’re finding themselves offensively and may be buying in to Tad Boyle’s defensive focus.
  9. Iowa State (6-2) – The Cyclones dropped two in a row this week to Northern Iowa and California after jumping out to a 6-0 start.  Still, things might be better than expected in Ames.  A team picked last by many has managed to compete in every game and in a very impressive stat at the moment, five players currently average double figures in scoring.  That’s balance and Fred Hoiberg has to like that.
  10. Nebraska (6-2) – The Huskers are doing what they’ve done over the past several seasons:  Pad their resume in the non-conference and then try to hold on.  They’re undefeated at home and continue to hang their hat on tough physical play.  Just one game this past week (against lowly Jackson State), but they took care of business Wednesday. It’s just hard to say this early against token competition if that success will translate to the Big 12 or fail once again.
  11. Texas Tech (5-4) – Tech appears to be on a path to underachieve in 2010-11.  A big loss to Washington and a narrow win at home against Oral Roberts are the signs of disappointment from last week.  Last year, defense was the concern, and that appears to be the developing trend yet again for Pat Knight in Lubbock.
  12. Oklahoma (3-5) – Oklahoma went straight from Maui into a tough stretch on the road against Arkansas and Arizona.  They aren’t winning, but they might be finding a reliable inside presence in sophomore Andrew Fitzgerald (14.6 PPG and 5.6 RPG).

A Look Ahead

  • This week, the Kansas Jayhawks dive in head first with their first ranked opponent in Memphis.  The game between the two teams will take place at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
  • Wednesday’s schedule is full of solid games and in-state opponents.  Mizzou hosts a Vanderbilt team from the SEC that has experienced some success early this season and currently sits at 7-1.  Texas Tech and Oklahoma State host in-state opponents TCU and Tulsa, respectively, while Colorado will tip against in Colorado State in what promises to be a great test of the Buffaloes’ recent upswing.
  • Friday, the Cyclones head down the road to Iowa City to take on their big intrastate rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes.  The game presents an opportunity for Iowa State to get back on track and put an early feather in the cap of first-year coach Fred Hoiberg.
  • All that leads to next Saturday, when eight Big 12 teams will be in action across the country as we get ever closer to conference play.  The headliner for the day is Texas A&M and Washington as the Aggies play host to their Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series game and will look for an upset to continue the conference’s control in the series.

Stats, Quotes and other Notables

  • 6-4 – That’s the record of the Big 12 against Pac-10 competition through the first week of the Hardwood Series.  With two games to go, last year’s record of 9-3, which was the single best by one conference over the other during the series, will go unmatched. Two additional games in late December (Stanford at Oklahoma State and Kansas at Cal) as well as some past matchups like Kansas vs. Arizona in Las Vegas two weeks ago are not officially considered part of the series.
  • 18-18 – Georgetown goes 100% from the free throw line and in general shoots extremely well in an overtime win over Missouri.  The irony lay in that it took a missed Missouri free throw for the Hoyas to even have a chance at the end.
  • 4 years – That will be the duration of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series which wraps up this year after starting in 2007.  Seems like a mistake as the ACC/Big 10 Challenge enters it’s 11th year of existence.
  • “It was really a poor way to end the game on that call.” – Ben Howland, discussing the most talked-about call of the young basketball season. 

Player of the Year Stock Watch

  • Jacob Pullen – (15 PPG, 4.3 APG, 40% FG) Even: Pullen’s numbers are up, but he once again struggled against a solid opponent.  Ultimately his season will be judged on conference play and during the Tournament.
  • Marcus Morris – (18.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 62% FG) Trending Down: In his last two games, Morris has found himself in early foul trouble and it’s hurt his team.  He’ll need to play smarter down the stretch for Kansas to reach their potential.
  • Quincy Acy – (14.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG,55% FG) Trending Down: After a fast start, Acy might be coming back down to earth. The return of Dunn has no doubt played a factor, and at this point, he’s an important piece but probably not player of the year material.
  • Alec Burks – (19.9 PPG, 48% FG) Even: Burks’ numbers are falling, yet his team has played better.  Colorado seems to be finding themselves and Burks is still the leader.  His improvement on the defensive end might be the most welcome sign for coach Tad Boyle.
  • Jordan Hamilton – (20.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG) Even: A slow week and a poor game against USC for the Longhorns but Hamilton is still in the mix.
  • LaceDarius Dunn – (22.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 53% FG) Even: Dunn was welcomed back to Baylor after biding his time due to off-court issues.  His addition has paid dividends immediately, as the Bears look long, athletic and as explosive as anyone in the country.
  • Marcus Denmon – (16.4 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 56% 3FG) New: Mike Anderson’s team is balanced, so you don’t necessarily expect on player to rise above the rest in his system.  Denmon has, though, thanks to deadly outside shooting. 
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Set Your Tivo: 11.26.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 26th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

There are lots of good games today, most with implications are from tournaments. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

Old Spice Classic Semifinal: #25 Wisconsin vs. Boston College — 12 pm on ESPN (***)

Wisconsin enters today’s game coming off a brutal to watch 50-35 win over Manhattan in the opening round yesterday at Disney. Jon Leuer led the Badgers with 16/13 in a game that had the same halftime score (17-10) as the Patriots/Lions NFL game. Boston College scored a thrilling 67-65 win over Texas A&M as Dash Harris’ coast-to-coast layup try fell off the rim as time expired. Reggie Jackson scored 21 points on 8-12 shooting to pace an Eagles team that shot 47% overall from the floor. BC held off a second half charge from the Aggies and overcame a 29-14 shellacking on the boards to pull out the win. Wisconsin is rated eighth in offensive efficiency but has struggled shooting the ball recently. They’ve shot under 40% in their last two games but have made up for it on the defensive end, especially yesterday. Bo Ryan’s stingy defense held Manhattan under 50 FG attempts and 28.6% shooting. Wisconsin is strong on the boards as well, ranking #1 in offensive rebounding percentage and #7 in the same statistic on the defensive side meaning they clean the defensive glass very well. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin has out-rebounded every opponent it has faced this season. That’s going to be a problem for Boston College, a team that ranks #267 in offensive rebounding and had a rough time against the Aggies yesterday. The Eagles shot it well from three for the first time all year against A&M and that’s something Steve Donahue may want to take advantage of again today. Wisconsin ranks #298 against the three, the one thing they don’t do well defensively. BC isn’t much better however, ranking #293. Expect a well played game at an average to below-average speed as Boston College protects the ball very well and Wisconsin doesn’t force many steals and turnovers due to their deliberate style of play. The Badgers have assisted on 63% of their made shots this year, a sign of a disciplined offensive system led by Jordan Taylor. We expect this to be a close game but Wisconsin has the edge in most areas and that should be good enough to advance to the finals of this tournament.

76 Classic Semifinal: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State — 2:30 pm on ESPN (**)

Oklahoma State got by a pesky DePaul team in the first round on the back of Marshall Moses’ 27/9 on 11-14 FG while Virginia Tech rolled over Cal State Northridge. This game features a lot of statistical contrasts and most would seem to favor the Hokies. The most glaring of which has to be turnovers. Virginia Tech does turn the ball over too much but they also force a bunch due to their style of play. Oklahoma State turned it over 25 times against an up-tempo DePaul team while Virginia Tech forced the same number against Northridge. That doesn’t bode well for today’s matchup if you’re a Cowboy fan. The Hokies get to the line extremely well and that should give them a big advantage in this game. The Pokes of OSU foul a lot, ranking #321 in FTA/FGA, a measure of how often your opponent gets to the line. Virginia Tech doesn’t take advantage as much as they should, averaging 69% from the stripe. Malcolm Delaney is the creator and best player for Seth Greenberg while Jeff Allen has had a nice start to his senior season in the post (11.5/9/4). He’ll play a key role defending Moses if he chooses to enter the paint. Virginia Tech blocks a lot of shots, ranked #16 in blocked shot percentage. Oklahoma State is even better at #12 so expect a war in the paint. Neither team shoots or defends the three very well so a lot of the action should be confined to be inside the arc with guard penetration and dishing to guys like Allen and Darrell Williams for OSU. The Hokies have an edge in talent and Travis Ford still isn’t too sure about what to expect from his club in a transitional year. Virginia Tech is a solid favorite here and should advance. For Oklahoma State to win, they’ll need to do a great job controlling the ball and getting rebounds in order to limit opportunities for the Hokies.

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2010

Owen Kemp of Rock Chalk Talk and SB Nation Kansas City is the RTC Correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

[ed note — this post was written prior to Tuesday’s games]

A Look Back

  • The early season Big 12 non-conference slate has played true to form early.  The heavy hitters in Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Texas and Baylor have all successfully negotiated the handful of cupcakes on the schedule without much resistance. Two contenders have stepped out into heavier competition early, those teams being the Texas Longhorns and the Kansas State Wildcats. The Longhorns defeated a ranked Big Ten opponent in Illinois before dropping a close one to Big East favorite Pitt.  The early returns seem to indicate that Texas is back in business after the collapse of 2009-10.
  • For Kansas State, an early season matchup against Top 25 Virginia Tech was handled with a big second half in Manhattan.  A game that turned into a foul-fest eventually wore down the Hokies and the Wildcats pulled away on a 28-9 second half run.
  • The early season has also given way to a few surprising losses, the unenviable honors going to Texas Tech and Colorado.  The Red Raiders, who return four of their top five scorers from a year ago, dropped a tough one on the road to the North Texas by a nine-point margin.  To their credit, North Texas is a tournament team from a year ago after winning the Sun Belt conference.
  • In Boulder, the Buffaloes have fallen to an early 1-2 start with losses on the road to Georgia and San Francisco.  The struggles early will certainly raise questions as to the legitimacy of the Buffalo program as a potential tournament representative.
  • The other big news in the conference actually took place away from the court as the Kansas Jayhawks received word on Friday night that top incoming freshman Josh Selby has been ruled eligible by the NCAA.  Selby will serve a nine-game suspension before hitting the court for a December 18 matchup against the USC Trojans in Allen Fieldhouse.  Selby’s return adds another dimension to a Jayhawk team that has been impressive early, albeit against inferior competition. Whether or not you agree with the NCAA’s decision, his addition will be a major boost as the Jayhawks look to bring the noise deep into the tournament.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas Jayhawks (3-0) – Early on the Jayhawks have looked as good as any contending team should against inferior competition.  The Jayhawks are balanced offensively and athletic on the defensive end.  Perimeter shooting has been a bit inconsistent early and the loss of Cole Aldrich has definitely affected the defense on the interior.
  2. Kansas State Wildcats (4-0) – Kansas State is winning basketball games the way they do and that isn’t always pretty.  Tough, physical, hardnosed basketball makes for a bit of a grind at times but it’s been successful at eventually wearing down the early opposition – case in point, Gonzaga.  The biggest concern? Free throw shooting, as K-State is shooting just 51.5% from the charity stripe.
  3. Texas Longhorns (3-1) – Jordan Hamilton has looked like an All-Big 12 candidate early and the Longhorns have a top 20 victory to their credit.  The close loss to Pitt can hardly be faulted, and overall the Longhorns look tough on the boards, with several consistent offensive weapons at their disposal.
  4. Baylor Bears (4-0) – Tough read on the Bears early.  They’ve looked solid on the interior with Quincy Acy, Perry Jones and Anthony Jones all making big contributions.  Overall, they don’t seem to be putting away lesser opponents the way a good team should.  Perhaps a team still adjusting to the loss of their floor leader, Tweety Carter, while awaiting the return of LaceDarius Dunn.
  5. Missouri Tigers (2-0) – It’s been a tale of two games for this group.  They squeaked one out against Western Illinois while being outrebounded.  A game later they dominated North Florida defensively and received a big boost from Ricardo Ratliffe and Laurence Bowers on the interior.  Certainly the play of Ratliffe and Bowers is a welcome sign for Tiger fans and a good indication of what could be this season.
  6. Texas A&M (3-0) – The Aggies look balanced, they’ve handled business with ease and are currently flying under the radar in the conference.  That may not last long, though, as Mark Turgeon looks to have some potential to work with and a savvy group of upperclassman leaders.
  7. Oklahoma State (3-0) – The Cowboys might just be a player when it’s all said and done.  A suspect interior game might be an overblown concern as seniors Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses have combined with junior college transfer Darrell Williams to make a solid three-man rotation early.  How consistently the trio can score as the competition picks up will be the question.
  8. Iowa State (4-0) – The Mayor, Fred Hoiberg, returns and the Cyclones have looked decent early.  A good revenge win over former coach Greg McDermott and Creighton provides some early season confidence and a group of largely upperclassman might make for a few surprises along the way.
  9. Texas Tech (3-1) – An early loss to North Texas raises the question of whether or not Pat Knight is on the hot seat early.  A huge concern is rebounding as the Red Raiders have been outrebounded in all four games this year.  That isn’t likely to improve as the competition does.
  10. Colorado (1-2) – Not the start they were hoping for in Boulder.  The Buffaloes had the makings of a potential tournament team but after a rocky start that may be doubtful.  Transition years are never easy and despite have two stars in Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, the interior game appears to once again be a problem and outside of the two known names, not much else in the way of scoring.
  11. Oklahoma (3-1) – The Sooners are undefeated, but it’s not easy to get excited just yet for a team that many see as one bound to struggle.  To the Sooners’ credit, they have defended well, rebounded well and shot well at times this year.  Now they get a chance to do it against good competition in Maui and make for a few more believers.
  12. Nebraska (3-2) – Same old Nebraska.  The Huskers beat the teams you’d expect them to beat and lose where you’d expect.  The Huskers aren’t particularly good in any one area and they don’t seem to have a go-to player.  Right now, it feels like a team with an identity crisis and one that won’t likely recover.

A Look Ahead

  • This week things begin to kick into high gear in the Big 12.  Kansas State set up a huge early season matchup against the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils by topping Gonzaga in Monday night’s CBE Classic semifinal.
  • Elsewhere in the conference, the Kansas Jayhawks will look to break their home court win streak record Tuesday night by extending the nation’s longest current mark to 63 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  The Jayhawks are then headed to Las Vegas for a matchup against the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday.  While Sean Miller hasn’t quite rebuilt the Arizona program, he does have things moving in the right direction and both schools have this matchup in Vegas circled on the calendar.

Stats, Quotes and other Notables

  • 34 Turnovers forced by the Missouri Tigers in their win over North Florida represents a school record and helped the Tigers hold their opponent scoreless over the final seven minutes of the game.
  • LaceDarius Dunn returns to the Baylor lineup this week after serving a three-game suspension.
  • Ben McLemore, a five star recruit out of the St. Louis area, has yet to make a college choice for 2011.  It was believed that Missouri and Kansas were his finalists and it appears he will now decide between the two this spring.
  • Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon on Texas: “They out-rebounded us tonight [37-35] and we take a lot of pride in our rebounding. I think it’s a very good team that knows their roles.”
  • North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll on Missouri’s pressure, ““It’s relentless, never-ending from every angle, you can’t simulate it, you can’t do things in practice to make you think ‘Hey, this is what they’re going to do.”’
  • Bill Self on Marcus Morris,” “He’s the best all-around player that I’ve coached since I’ve been here, maybe ever. All around — I’m not saying he’s the best player but there’s no one I’ve coached that does more things.”

Conference POY Watch

  • Jacob Pullen, Kansas State – 16.5 PPG, 4 APG, 46.3% FG
  • Marcus Morris, Kansas – 20.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 72% FG
  • Quincy Acy, Baylor – 17.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 65% FG
  • Alec Burks, Colorado – 23.3 PPG, 45% FG
  • Jordan Hamilton, Texas – 24.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG
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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

  1. Kansas (13-0, 27-1) – After taking care of Texas A&M in College Station and Oklahoma on consecutive Big Mondays, there is only one game left that I could see the Jayhawks losing (at Mizzou). However, after Kansas dominated the Tigers at home earlier in the year, it looks like KU is in great shape to finish the Big 12 season undefeated.
  2. Kansas State (9-3, 22-4) – This year’s surprise team won two games against some of the conferences’ worst teams. The Wildcats are in the best position to finish second in the conference as of today, but their next three games (at Texas Tech, vs. Mizzou, at Kansas) are definitely not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
  3. Texas A&M (8-4, 19-7) – The Aggies and Wildcats are in similar positions. TAMU has the tiebreaker over Missouri, so if they take care of business down the stretch they will grab the three seed in the conference tournament. However, their last four games are all losable (at Baylor, vs. Texas, vs. Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma). Bryan Davis is coming on strong for this team as of late, and he will have to continue his dominant inside play if A&M wants to hold on to a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament.
  4. Baylor (7-5, 20-6) – I can’t fault the Bears for losing in Stillwater, especially when the best player in the conference is on the opposing team. In my opinion, Baylor has the best chance of any Big 12 team outside the state of Kansas to make the Elite Eight. Watch out for Quincy Acy, he is going to be key for Baylor in this home stretch.
  5. Missouri (8-4, 20-7) – The Tigers got a huge win over Texas at home on Wednesday that probably propelled them into the NCAA Tournament. Of the teams fighting for a first round bye in the Big 12 tournament I think Mizzou is least likely to get the spot because of its two games against Kansas State and Kansas, plus Baylor and Texas A&M have tiebreakers over them. Still, Mike Anderson and this MU team have been proven many critics wrong all season, so there is really no science to accurately predicting how the Tigers will finish.
  6. Texas (7-5, 21-6) – Luckily for the Longhorns they somewhat control their own destiny. If they beat Texas A&M in Lubbock and Baylor in Waco they will most likely finish in the top four of the conference. The problem is that UT has been a pretty bad road team in Big 12 play (3-4 to be exact), so any Longhorns fans that blindly assume they’ll win those two games are most likely hallucinating.
  7. Oklahoma State (7-5, 19-7) – The best news for the Cowboys in the last two weeks has to be the fact that Obi Muonelo has been stepping up his game. In games when Muonelo is in double figures scoring, OSU is 14-3. So it is pretty obvious that he is key to the Cowboys’ success. Outside of Muonelo, James Anderson continues to awe college basketball fans around the nation. He is certainly making a case for why he should be a First Team All-American.
  8. Texas Tech (4-8, 16-10) – The Red Raiders are officially dead after dropping two games last week. To their credit, no one thought they would even be in the discussion come February. Good news for Tech fans is that Pat Knight has this program going in the right direction, and he is recruiting some pretty good players for future seasons.
  9. Colorado (3-9, 12-14) – The Buffaloes picked up a nice win over OU in Boulder on Wednesday, and they have the opportunity to maybe get two more wins before the season is over (vs. Iowa State, at Nebraska). I’d say this year has been somewhat of a success for CU, the Buffs acquired another prolific scorer in Alec Burks and they have been a lot more competitive in conference play.
  10. Oklahoma (4-9, 13-14) – The 09-10 Oklahoma Sooners are the definition of letdown. They were returning one of the best freshman from the 08-09 season, and had a stellar recruiting class around him yet they couldn’t get it done. Tiny Gallon has returned, but with Willie Warren out due to mono it’s hard to see OU pulling off an unprecedented run in the Big 12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.
  11. Iowa State (2-10, 13-14) – The Cyclones have lost some heartbreakers this season, but overall it has also been a big letdown. Many people thought this would be the year ISU returned to its glory days and got back into the NCAA Tournament on the back of Craig Brackins. However, Brackins has seemed to have regressed from last season, and while JUCO transfer Marquis Gilstrap has made a huge impact it hasn’t been enough to get ISU even on the bubble.
  12. Nebraska (1-11, 13-14) – One of the more underrated players in the conference is Ryan Anderson of Nebraska. The Cornhuskers’ leading scorer is a great three-point shooter, and does a pretty good job rebounding the basketball for his height (6’4). Outside of Anderson, NU has few bright spots.

Player of the WeekJames Anderson (G), Oklahoma State – Anderson had his third thirty-point game this week in a huge win over Baylor at home. In that game he also pulled down 12 boards and was 80 percent from the free throw line. Since his “bad” game against Texas Tech the Cowboys are 3-0 and Anderson is averaging 27 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Team of the Week – Oklahoma State Cowboys – Travis Ford and his Cowboys need only two more regular season wins to feel good about their chances for an NCAA at-large berth. This last week moved OSU from a team on the wrong side of the bubble to feeling comfortable especially after the huge upset over Baylor at home on Saturday.

This Week’s Predictions

Kansas State at Texas Tech (Tuesday February 23,  8:00 PM ET) – I usually wouldn’t see Kansas State losing this matchup, but they have been cutting it close against lesser opponents recently. If the Wildcats let up at all in this contest they will be on the wrong end of the scoreboard. On top of that, Mike Singletary is one of the better players in the conference and he usually plays very well in Lubbock. It isn’t a Big 12 Weekly Update if I don’t mention Jacob Pullen, but I think he will have a tough time against the Red Raiders who still haven’t given up hope on making the Tournament. By no means will a win get TTU instant consideration for a bid, but Pat Knight will have his players going hard like it’s a tournament play-in game. So I’m picking a huge upset here, and saying that the Red Raiders take down one of the hottest teams in the nation on Tuesday.

Winner: Texas Tech

Nebraska at Iowa State (Wednesday February 23, 7:30 PM ET) – Both teams are on long losing streaks and they really want a win. You never know what can happen with a talented team like Iowa State if they can put together a run before the conference tournament starts. Nebraska is an abysmal road team, and I don’t see them putting up too much of a fight, even against Iowa State.

Winner: Iowa State

Colorado at Missouri (Wednesday February 23, 7:30 PM ET) – The only team the Tigers have really dominated in conference play is Colorado. Mike Anderson has never lost to the Buffaloes in his tenure at Mizzou, and I don’t see it happening for the first time in Columbia with his team playing their second to last home game of the season. Keith Ramsey had a big game in the first matchup between these two teams so look for him to be a key part of Missouri’s attack.

Winner: Missouri

Texas A&M at Baylor (Wednesday February 23, 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) – Here is a tremendous matchup that has huge implications for first-round byes in the conference tournament. Neither team can afford a loss, especially Baylor, because teams like Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma State are nipping at their heels attempting to overtake them in the conference standings. It provides a great inside matchup between Bryan Davis and Ekpe Udoh, and also a great guard matchup between Donald Sloan and B.J. Holmes of A&M vs. LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter of Baylor. These teams are about as even as any in the conference, so I will go with the home team in this game and say the Bears win an overtime thriller.

Winner: Baylor

Oklahoma State at Texas (Wednesday February 23, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) – If any of you remember the Big Monday game between these two teams a few weeks back, you must recall James Anderson’s stellar first half performance. Then OSU faded in the second half and Texas took care of business in Stillwater. UT has a lot to play for because they still think they can win out, including the Big 12 Tournament, and maybe get a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which would be a tremendous accomplishment at this point in the season. Damion James is the key to UT’s success, as he had an ok performance against Mizzou and the Longhorns lost that game on the road. If UT wants a big win they need James and Dexter Pittman to play like they were at the beginning of the season. I don’t like how Texas has been playing lately, but you still have to go with the Horns in Austin.

Winner: Texas

Iowa State at Colorado (Saturday February 27, 1:30 PM ET) – It’s a possible CBI Final preview in Boulder on Saturday. I like the Buffs in this game because they are the better team, and believe it or not they are not easy to beat at home.

Winner: Colorado

Baylor at Oklahoma (Saturday February 27, 1:30 PM ET) – The Bears should watch out here because it is the definition of a trap game. Norman will be loud as always, and the possibility of having Willie Warren back (although there is no way he would be close to 100 percent) is scary for BU fans. Tommy Mason-Griffin of OU is one to look for in this contest, as he has been the most efficient player for the Sooners all season and can be deadly from behind the arc. All that said, I don’t see any scenario in which Scott Drew lets his team lose focus and let this one slip away.

Winner: Baylor

Texas at Texas A&M (Saturday February 27, 2:00 PM ET ESPN) – The Longhorns seem to always struggle in College Station, then again so does most of the conference. I think Texas has the advantage of many mismatches in this game, for example UT’s experienced frontcourt against TAMU’s relatively inexperienced one. It’s hard for me to pick against the Aggies at home though, especially when the game is going to be sold out against an intrastate rival.

Winner: Texas A&M

Texas Tech at Nebraska (Saturday February 27, 4:00 PM ET) – The Red Raiders should be hot coming off the Kansas State game and will blow out the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. NU is just overmatched athletically against every team in the Big 12, so its hard to think they will win any more games this season.

Winner: Texas Tech

Kansas at Oklahoma State (Saturday February 27, 4:00 PM ET CBS) – The best player in the conference will be going up against the best team in the conference on Saturday in Stillwater. Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are looking to stay undefeated, but James Anderson and Obi Muonelo should provide a tough roadblock for the Jayhawks to break through. I love Travis Ford and what he has done with the Cowboys’ program, and there is no doubt that Stillwater will probably be one of the louder places in the country this weekend, but I’ve learned my lesson picking against KU before. This team is too good, and they always find a way to win the big game.

Winner: Kansas

Missouri at Kansas State (Saturday February 27, 8:00 PM ET ESPNU) – Everyone in Manhattan has been waiting to get revenge on Missouri since the Tigers upset K-State in Columbia back in late December. Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels will be the key players for K-State if they are going to destroy MU like they’re capable of doing. I think Mizzou comes in and plays tough for the first 30 minutes, but then they will hit a second half scoring drought and the Wildcats will pull away with a big conference win over a rival.

Winner: Kansas State

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2009


Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (7-0) – The Jayhawks have yet to play a tough opponent, and they didn’t play too well against a bad UCLA team. However, to KU’s credit, they’re going to get everybody’s best shot all season long.
  2. Texas (7-0) – The Horns fans are probably more excited about their football team at the moment, but the town of Austin could see another national championship appearance, this time on the hardcourt.
  3. Texas A&M (8-1) – Not a very impressive week for the Aggies who struggled at home in their wins against Akron (74-62) and North Texas (75-65).
  4. Texas Tech (8-0) – This team has earned my respect after their crazy win over Washington at home. If Pat Knight gets to the Tournament he is looking at Big 12 coach of the year honors for what he’s doing in Lubbock.
  5. Kansas State (7-1) – The Wildcats are about to get into the toughest part of their nonconference schedule. This week they play at home against Xavier (Tuesday 12/8) and on the road against Mountain West favorite UNLV (Saturday 12/12).
  6. Missouri (5-2) – I think Mizzou answered a lot of questions about their offense with the 106-69 whipping of Oregon in Columbia.
  7. Oklahoma (5-3) – It looks like the Sooners are back on track with big wins over Arkansas (67-47) and Arizona (79-62).
  8. Oklahoma State (7-1) – If you recall, I called the upset against Tulsa, if we really call it an upset. The Cowboys then had a close call at home against UT-San Antonio (61-55)
  9. Baylor (7-1) – The win over Arizona State was a good sign for the Bears, but with the Pac-10 having a down year it’s hard to know what we should make of it.
  10. Iowa State (6-3) – Really tough week for the Cyclones losing to MVC favorite Northern Iowa (63-60) and then getting dumped by Cal on the road (82-63).
  11. Colorado (6-3) – Good news for the Buffaloes is that freshman Alec Burks is off to a terrific start (16 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
  12. Nebraska (5-2) – Lost on the road to a better Creighton team. Not much is looking good in Lincoln right now other than Ndamukong Suh, and I don’t think he’s going to try out for the basketball team any time soon.

Team of the Week: Texas Tech Red Raiders – The title of “craziest game” of this young season belongs to the Washington-TTU showdown in Lubbock last Thursday, and I think its safe to say that Red Raiders fans are surprised with what their team has been able to do so far this season.

Player of the Week: Damion James (F), Texas – James combined for 35 points and 15 rebounds in Texas’ two games last week. Right now, he is the key to the Longhorns’ success.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #4 – Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2009

seasonpreviewPatrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Kansas (15-1)
  2. Texas (14-2)
  3. Oklahoma (11-5)
  4. Kansas State (10-6)
  5. Missouri (9-7)
  6. Texas A&M (8-8)
  7. Oklahoma State (8-8)
  8. Iowa State (7-9)
  9. Baylor (5-11)
  10. Texas Tech (4-12)
  11. Nebraska (3-13)
  12. Colorado (2-14)

All Conference Team:

  • Sherron Collins (G), Kansas
  • Willie Warren (G) Oklahoma
  • Craig Brackins (F) Iowa State
  • Damion James (F), Texas
  • Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas

6th Man. James Anderson (G) Oklahoma State

Impact Newcomer. Xavier Henry (G), Kansas

big 12 logoWhat You Need to Know.

  • KU Dominance.  Of the 13 years that the Big 12 has held a conference tournament, Kansas has won the crown six times, which is the most of any Big 12 school.  Kansas has been deemed the regular season conference champion nine times in those 13 years, sharing the title in three of those times. Every time Kansas has shared the title the Jayhawks were the two-seed in the conference tournament.
  • Two At the Top. It’s very possible that Texas and Kansas could share the Big 12 title this season. Texas’ toughest conference games are Kansas (in Austin), then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State on the road.  The Longhorns seem to have the advantage over the Jayhawks when it comes to an easier conference schedule, but with KU bringing back all of its talent and adding one of the top freshman in the nation, I still believe that Kansas will stay atop the conference alone.
  • Where are the Tigers. Where do you rank the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 this season? After being picked seventh by the coaches in last year’s preseason poll, the Tigers finished third and won the Big 12 Tournament en route to an Elite Eight appearance. Mike Anderson will continue to play his “Fastest Forty Minutes” style, and behind leadership from senior guard JT Tiller (Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009), and sophomore guard Kim English, it’s hard to determine where Mizzou will be at the end of the season. Anderson has put together a very athletic lineup, which should be able to play to his coaching style, but their lack of experience and a consistent scorer could hurt them.
  • X-Factor. Freshman phenom Xavier Henry could be the key to Kansas’ hopes of a second national title in just three seasons.  A late decider, Henry could very well be one of the most productive freshmen in the NCAA this season.  He is surrounded by unbelievable talent that will hog most of the attention from opposing defenses, which should open up many scoring opportunities for Henry.

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