Long Distance Jayhawk


The Good, The Bad and The Cornhuskers by longdistancejayhawk

I addressed my severe mental lapse earlier, so I won’t bore you with the deets (basically, I forgot to change the autodeploy for the Big 12 preview that I was working on and a half-cocked piece was published for a couple of hours. Maybe it damaged my credibility as an armchair journalist. I don’t really care). So, now that conference play is a little underway, I’m going to set to giving you a preview of what I think is going to happen in the Big 12. I’m making a guess as to how many games each team will win, their seeding in the conference tournament and some thoughts on each team’s season so far.

STANDINGS AT THE END OF THE SEASON

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

* – I actually took the time out to predict what I think is going to happen, win and loss wise (click here to take a look at my thinking). Texas splits with A&M, but beats Baylor head to head. I think that makes them the favorite out of that bottleneck. Since Baylor and A&M split in my predictions, I went to Big 12 South (again, not sure if that’s the tiebreaker, but evs) comparison. A&M barely edges Baylor in that one.
** – Missouri wins their match up this year.
*** – Nebraska wins their match up this year…and it’s almost the only game Nebraska wins. At least they’re not Tech.
**** – With Pat Knight on the hot seat, Bobby delivers an impassioned plea to the team to save his son’s job. They oblige and lose in spectacular fashion to KU. They forefeit the rest of the season, though some kind of domestic violence shit goes down in Boulder and the Buffs are forced to send out the practice squad. Confused by the turn of events, Colorado some how loses this game. Weird, I know, but it could happen.

Yes, I’m a homer for Kansas, so clearly they’re going to win it all (or at least the bulk of their conference games). The needle has definitely been moving more towards the side of loving the team (especially after that ISU game. I love that they just kept playing the same game, even when things started to break down…unless we’re talking about the Morris twins, since they somehow played better than I’ve ever seen them play). The rest of the conference is pretty top-heavy, I think. It tends to be the case. I guess the only crazy prediction I have is that Baylor will actually get their shit together and play solid ball throughout conference. I’m putting a lot of faith in Scott Drew, and that might not be warranted, but you know…anyway, I’m going to put up some brief little thoughts on the various teams, going from worst to best.

Texas Tech

Current Record: 8-9 (0-2)
Projected Record: 9-22 (1-15)

Pat Knight knows what's in his heart. It's losing. Basketball games, the season, his job. Losing is just what he wants to do.

It’s going to be a long season for the Red Raiders. They stacked up some nice pre-conference wins, but, you know, they have no signature victory. They do have a signature beat: Washington brutalized them for around 30. Pat Knight is pretty much out at the end of the season. Well, out unless he gets fired mid-season. I don’t see the point of that really. Only occasionally do teams do better when a mid-season guy steps in (even then, it seems more likely that the original coach stepped down for health reasons (ahem, Bobby Knight) and let an understudy take the reigns. For instance, Arizona started killing it under interim head coach Chuckles (Russ Pennell) who coached the team to a Sweet 16 before getting punted for Sean Miller. I still think Chuckles got a raw deal since he is now coaching at some D-II school). Whatever. Tech’s doomed to finish in the bottom of the Big 12 and get booted from the tournament in the first round. Hello, coaching search.

Iowa State

Current Record: 13-4 (0-2)
Projected Record: 16-15 (3-13)

Welcome to the Almost .500 Club, Cyclones (BTW, they have a cardinal or something as their mascot which makes no sense…you know, because their nickname is the Cyclones). The highlight of your season will be giving Kansas a run for their money the other night. Sadly, none of you have the Michael Beasley/Blake Griffen Syndrome (where you’re the best guy on a mediocre team who shines despite the shit show that is his supporting cast, then gets the joy of being drafted into a similar situation by an NBA lottery team). You’re best hope is to wait until that new hometown hero coach completely blows it and ISU looks for a replacement. You know, as long as Craig Brackens isn’t available. I’d kind of like ISU to be decent at some point, but since they’re going to be the bottom dwellers of the Big 12 for the foreseeable future, I kind of like two guaranteed wins every year.

Oklahoma

Current Record: 8-8 (0-2)
Projected Record:
12-18 (4-12)

Caple smells something foul in Norman. Well, other than the OKC Sewage Treatment Plant. Get it? I'm talking about the Sooners.

Bet you wish Blake Griffen were still elligible, huh? Don’t worry, he is. Once he changes his name to Kareem Abdul Griffen and fakes a Morroaccan birth certificate, you guys are gold. Until then, you’re just going to have to suffer through Jeff Caple trying to turn pissed on rotten lemons into…I don’t know…pissy lemonade? I don’t envy you, Sooners fans. You’re just a couple years removed from relevance. It’s a tough place to be stuck. On the plus side, I feel like you’ll pull out an upset on rival Texas. Hope I’m right, because it’s going to be the bright spot on your season. Well, that and the fact that you’ll probably pull off an upset of far superior OSU in the Big 12 Tournament.

Nebraska

Current Record: 13-3 (1-1)
Projected Record: 16-14 (4-12)

The Cornhuskers will finish their final season in the Big 12 where they always do, towards the bottom. I’d love for them to finish this season as the 12th seed, but that might be asking too much (especially since it would take a miracle for Tech to not occupy that spot). That would be a great way to send them off into the frigid embrace of the great white north and slow as fuck basketball. Instead, they’ll just be mediocre and exit from the conference tourney early. Sucks to be them.

Colorado

Current record: 13-4 (2-0)
Projected Record: 19-12 (8-8)

This one surprised even me (and I guessed the winners of all these games, damn it!). There’s something about the hot start to their season that leads me to believe that they will be a shocker come the end of the season. Their wins are not a fluke, dear readers! The Buffalo are undervalued (though they hit murder’s row in the middle of their season: Mizzou, A&M, K-State, and Kansas…after getting roughed up, I figured that was the time that Tech would strike for their lone victory of the season). Though I think they can finish strong (and upset Texas, like they upset Misery and Sexual Frustration). Will this help them make the Big Dance? I doubt it, but it will be a much better exit from the best conference ever. Much like Nebraska, though, it would make my lifetime if they fucked this one up and notched like 2 victories (again, no one’s touching Tech for ineptness this year).

Oklahoma State

Current Record: 13-3 (1-1)
Projected Record: 21-9 (9-7)

Pistol Pere would be far more menacing if he didn't have saddle feet. Look at those toes. A legless mule could out run him. Unfortunately for the rest of the Big 12, no one on OSU has feet like that.

So now we’re getting to the teams that could possibly make it. The Cowboys have been a quiet little surprise out of Stillwater this year. Congratulations, Travis Ford. You’ve lead your team to a pretty solid record and have left them poised to be the fourth best South team. I honestly think that, if they do what I think they’re going to do (and don’t upset Kansas, though we’re playing them at Allen this year…we have a hard time winning at Gallagher-Iba), they’ll be a bubble team going into Confrenece Tournament Weekend. If they can notch a W or two, they’ll punch their ticket and not have to sweat out Selection Sunday. I’d love to see seven Big 12 teams make the tournament. Anyway, why do I think that OSU is going to do this well? Simple. They’ve been winning convincingly (though their losses are…uh, pretty bad) which leads me to believe (and I haven’t actually seen them play) that they actually play pretty well as a team. Sometimes it breaks down (hey, it happens (see: Kansas-Cal, Kansas-ISU (not that OSU is in the same league as God’s Team, just saying that sometimes you forget the whole lets all do our jobs for each other/Musketeers shit that basketball should be all over))). If they can win a couple of important games, as well as take most of the wins that they should, they’ll be poised for a 10 seed.

Missouri

Current Record: 15-2 (1-1)
Projected Record: 21-10 (9-7)

Barring a huge misstep, the Tigers will make the dance. They’ll cruise through the significantly weaker North, falter against the South and end up with a decent resume. I don’t think I like the Tigers this year as much as I liked them in previous years (like’s a strong word…I hate them, but you know, in terms of basketball and making our conference stronger, I like when they’re good). I don’t think they have the speed and intensity of previous years. They’re still intense, just not quite so. What’s impressive about the Tigers is that they have incredible point distribution. Everyone on their starting five is averaging over 10, with Denmon at 17.6. That’s insanely good shooting. On top of that their sixth and seventh men both average over 7. I don’t think they’ll be able to sustain that production during conference play, but it’s still a great place to start. Look for the Tigers to make a run in the Big 12 Tournament and definitely get their dance invite.

Kansas State

Current Record: 12-5 (0-2)
Projected Record: 22-9 (10-6)

Tough start to conference play for the Cats (technically, tough start to the season as a whole, but you know, you can’t win them all…especially when you’re playing Duke. Kyle Singler can apparently hit buckets from the rafters, so how do you stop that?). Two losses in a row. That’s what you bastards deserve, being all uppity about how cool you were with Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. You self-righteous pricks. Okay, enough trash talk, here’s the real skinny: K-State is good, not great. Their biggest problem from the two-and-a-half games I’ve caught this season is their lack of a true PG. It’s the same problem that Derrick Favors had last year. Who knows what they’d be capable of if they just had someone to feed the ball to the rest of the team. Pullen has seemingly been pulling that duty, but he’s not the best PG. He’s a 2-guard and it sucks that he’s having this season in the spotlight to illuminate the fact that he’s not a very versatile player. Now that I’ve said all that, I don’t think it will matter much. Pullen will eventually come around to being a kind of hybrid guard that runs point sometimes and runs 2-guard plays the rest of the time. Once K-State finds the right balance, they’ll tear through most of their conference opponents. That said, by the conference tournament, look for them to bow out early. Once that time rolls around, I think the team will be too tired to actually win much. Even so, I think they’ll make the NCAA Tournament.

Baylor

Current Record: 12-3 (2-0)
Projected Record: 21-8 (11-5)

LaceDarius Dunn, star of Baylor, beats a Wildcat on a fast break like he beats his girlfriend. Too soon?

Baylor has been a disappointment, according to sports analysts. I don’t know about that. They’ve done pretty good, record wise, for being a disappointment. Maybe they were supposed to be winning by like a hundred or something. I don’t know. I really think that they’re the undervalued team in the Big 12 right now. Additionally, I’m actually a little nervous for our match up this weekend. I think Baylor’s something of a sleeping dragon. Watch out for them. Anyway, I think they’re going to go on a tear after Monday’s KU game (I honestly think they might win, but either way, I think they’re going to go bananas afterwards). They’ll easily make it to a top four seed and and probably make an easy run to the semis of the Big 12 (where I’m reasonably sure we’ll get our revenge for the humiliation that they could deliver on Monday). They’ll probably grab a five seed for March.

Texas A&M

Current Record: 15-1 (2-0)
Projected Record: 24-6 (11-5)

The Aggies are good. It pains me to say it, since I despise their stupid ass yell leaders. What’s the big deal? Get some real cheerleaders, you dinks! Plus, I’m not a fan of the strange checkerboard court pattern that A&M (and others) have. Slats, man, SLATS! That’s what a basketball court should be made of. Anyway, this team is good. Scary good. What’s so scary about them is that they seem to be the unheralded team in the polls. Sure, they’re ranked now and they probably will be for the rest of the season. But no one’s talking about them. I guess there are too many unbeatens left for anyone to sift through the rest of the teams. Whatever. Look for A&M to possible vie for the Big 12 autobid this year.

Texas

Current Record: 13-3 (1-0)
Projected Record: 23-8 (11-5)

Take a good long look at this face, Longhorns. How are you going to feel when you tell your kids about the Dogus Balbay Era in Austin?

Like K-State, the Longhorns don’t seem to have a PG. Unlike K-State, this isn’t really stopping them from being a dominating team. Dogus Balbay (who’s name is apparently pronounced “doj,” kind of like the euphemism for pot) has stepped into a veteran leader role after being the sixth man/hype man on last year’s strangely erratic Texas team. Of course, there’s still a possibility that the Longhorns blow up like they did last year after getting the number one ranking. I doubt either of those scenarios will happen (I don’t think Texas can get the number one and I don’t think that they’ll implode). The Sith Lord has whipped his team into shape after last year’s embarrassment. They’ll roll through the Big 12, misfire a couple of times, but come out pretty strong. Look for them to give A&M a run for their money on the way to the Conference championship.

Kansas

Current Record: 14-0 (1-0)
Projected Record: 28-2 (14-2)

Another year, another Big 12 regular season title. Did you think I would pick another team for this slot? Of course not! While the national media spent the pre-season talking about how awesome K-State was going to be (and Frank Martin kept trying to tell them that he didn’t think they were that good. Maybe he was trying to lower expectations to take the pressure off his team. Maybe he knew something we didn’t. Doesn’t matter, since K-State’s got a long road to joining us at the top of anything), Kansas quietly did what Kansas does every year, dominate. Coach Self and the boys have had some wild times this year (unlike last year, where the team pretty much played the same game every night and never really got challenged) but I think it’s all part of the growing experience. The only team that I’m really worried about beating us is Baylor. I think this is a kind of grudge match for the Bears, not so much against us, but against everyone who’s saying their not shit right now. Could be a trap for KU. That’s the only game I’m really worried about. I’m sure we’ll drop another one and I arbitrarily picked K-State. Actually, not that arbitrarily. I think the same rules apply to K-State that apply to Baylor. They’re going to keep getting people calling them out for not being that great and when we get into Bramlage, it’s going to be intense. I think it will probably turn into another street ball type of game with a ton of physicality and technicals. That’s just what I think. What do I know? We’ll definitely make the semis in the Big 12 Tourney. After that, I’ve got no promises. The top four seeds in the Big 12 are all going to be seriously good squads at that point. Only time will tell.

 

Big Jay strolls out to streamers. Much like the streamers that will be coming down at the end of the Big 12 Tourney for KU. Not to jinx or anything.

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[…] main thing that I was focused on, outside of NFL playoffs, was the start of conference play. I did an epic, 3,000 word preview of what I thought would happen in conference play. Here’s the breakdown of where I thought everyone would end […]

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