Baylor vs. TCU for Dummies

posted by Mark on 11/30/2014 - -

Sunday morning, November 30, 2014, as I was listening to the College Sports Station on Sirius/XM on my way to the golf course, a fellow named Jeff Rickard was discussing TCU vs. Baylor in the upcoming College Football Playoff rankings. He favored Baylor because they beat TCU head to head.

“I might be old school,” he said, “but I think you play the games for a reason.”

No, Mr. Rickard, you are not old school. You are lazy. Intellectually lazy. Too lazy to take consider all relevant information.

Not that you are alone. I have heard many other commentators make the same lazy, non-analysis analysis in the past few days. To name a few, they include people I thought would know batter: Jerry Palm (who should maybe stick to basketball), Rod Gilmore (who claims to have attended Stanford and Cal and has a law degree), Rece Davis, Mark Packer, Jack Arute, Greg McElroy (an ex-jock), and a guy named Taylor Zarzour.

Here is what you guys are refusing to consider:

1. There are three kinds of head-to-head wins. It is not one size fits all. These are:

a. The visiting team wins variety. A lot of weight should be placed on this one, because winning on the Road is hard. The strongest head to head win of the season is Arizona at Oregon, yet no one is claiming Oregon should be bypassed in favor of Arizona. No one is suggesting that the PAC-12 forego its “championship” game this week because Arizona has already defeated the Ducks. And isn’t it strange that LSU’s Road win at Alabama did not keep the Crimson Tide out of the BCS Pretend Championship game in 2011.

b. The neutral field variety. This type is, likewise, worthy of considerable weight, though less than a Road win. It is the truest test of two teams mano a mano. Had Baylor beaten TCU at a neutral site–say, Jerry World in Arlington–its claim to a ranking higher than TCU’s would be considerably stronger.

c. The Home team wins variety. Ho-freakin’-hum. The Home team should win a game between comparable teams. Rarely should it be given any weight at all. Unless the game is a rout, it should be disregarded. In Baylor’s case, its win on a last second field goal at Home could even be considered a negative. But certainly not a positive. Who in his right mind would think Baylor would have won this game in Fort Worth?

2. The Committee’s task is not to compare Baylor and TCU. It is not to decide the Big 12 champion. There is no slot in the Playoff reserved for the Big 12 Champion, just as there is no SEC, ACC, Big 10, or PAC-12 slot.
The Committee’s job is to compare Baylor to every other team in the country. Its job is to compare TCU to every other team in the country.

The game between these two particular teams is simply one game to consider out of an entire season: just as Ole Miss beating Alabama was just one game; Arizona over Oregon was just one game; and just as Virginia Tech over Ohio St was only one game.

Why, then, is TCU’s loss to a Top 10 team on the Road–the best loss of any team in the mix for the Playoff–mindlessly cited by so many pundits as a reason to keep them out of the running? Wait, did I say mindlessly? That’s a clue.

3. Actually, Mr. Rickard is correct in saying, “You play the games for a reason.”

Precisely.There is a reason they play the games—plural. They don’t simply play one game and say, ”That is all we need to know.” Alabama has played games other than at Ole Miss; Oregon has played games other than vs. Arizona; Oho St has played games other than vs. Virginia Tech. Baylor and TCU have played games other than the one against each other.

Even if the decision were between Baylor and TCU (it’s not), there is one and only one game that differentiates the two teams, and it is not Baylor’s Home field, last second victory over the Frogs. It is the game they both played AT West Virginia. TCU won that game. Baylor didn’t. If there is a trump card anywhere in this equation, it is that TCU won a game that Baylor lost.

In conclusion: Here is hoping the Committee does its job properly and studies the entire body of work of every team that has earned the right to be considered.

Here is hoping that the Committee does not take the lazy way out and allow one game to negate every other piece of information at your disposal.

Not because doing so is to TCU’s advantage or Baylor’s advantage, or anyone else’s advantage. But because thinking is better than a knee-jerk reaction.

–Mark

REAL Standings: Home Stretch Edition

posted by Mark on 3/6/2014 - -

MIDWEEK RECAP

Nothing out of the ordinary in the Midweek games. Every Home team won, including those in the two at risk games: i.e., Okie St over K-State and Baylor over Iowa St. As an aside, had these two teams not sucked so badly earlier in the conference season and had retained their original Tier One status, both games would have been projected as W’s instead of at-risk contests.

In other games, Oklahoma remained in sole possession of second place with its projected W over West Virginia; UT backed into sole possession of third place by winning, as projected, vs. TCU; and KU remained 2.5 games clear of the field with its projected win over Texas Tech.

Which brings me to a pet peeve: People who get paid good money to talk about college basketball who do not understand the dynamics of the Home Court.

Case in point:

It seems that all of the media types, including Matt Norlander on Twitter, are turning themselves inside out going gaga over Okie St’s four game winning streak since the end of Marcus Smart’s suspension. Uh, guys, those four games consist of beating TCU and winning three Home games. Wake me when they do something impressive, like winning in Ames this Saturday.

Case in point 2:

Mark Packer on Sirius/XM has, likewise, gone overboard about Baylor’s recent success, pulling to within a game of .500 after starting 2-8. They have, indeed, won 6 of 7, but four of those victories have been in Waco (including Okie St during Smart’s suspension) and TCU on the Road. Their best victory in this stretch has been at West Virginia. The only relatively good team they have played away from Home resulted in a loss at Texas. Let me know when they do something impressive, like winning in Manhattan this Saturday.

Case in Point 3:

Prior to the SMU/Louisville game Wednesday night on SBS Sports, Jon Rothstein declared, “SMU has shown that they belong in the tournament. A win over Louisville at Home will show they can win some games when they get there.”

Well, no, it wouldn’t (had it happened). It would have shown that they could beat a good team at Home (had it happened). NCAA games are not played at Home. SMU will not be playing any games in Moody Coliseum with a packed house screaming “SMU SMU SMU” over and over and over at the top of their lungs.

Here is a suggestion: Place no weight on any Home victory. Here is what should be taken into account in assessing a team’s overall strength and its tournament potential, in descending order of importance:

• W’s on the Road/Losses at Home
• W’s/L’s on neutral courts
• W’s/L’s on pseudo neutral courts (such as the Sprint Center for KU)

Forget Home wins. Any Home wins. Forget KU over Okie St in Lawrence, Okie St over KU in Stillwater, UNC over Duke in Chapel Hill, Cal over Arizona in Berkeley, Arkansas over Kentucky in Fayetteville, and the like.

Pay close attention to Syracuse losing to BC and Georgia Tech in the Carrier Dome, KU over Iowa State in Ames and Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma over Texas in Austin, Florida over Kentucky in Lexington, Arkansas over Kentucky in Lexington, Michigan over Ohio St in Columbus, Iowa over Ohio St in Columbus, Ohio St losing to Penn St in Columbus, etc.

Not saying that Home Wins and Road Losses have no value, but it is minimal. And not saying that commentators who place importance on them are stupid or don’t understand basketball. Those mentioned here seem to know their stuff for the most part.

It is, however, lazy analysis. And pretty much worthless.

THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS TIERS

1. Tier One: Iowa St, K-State, KU, Oklahoma, Texas

2. Tier Two: Baylor, Okie St, Texas Tech, West Virginia

3. Tier Three: TCU

THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS:

1. 14.5-3.5

KU (14-3) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at WVU

2. 12-6

Oklahoma (11-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: N/A

3. 11.5-6.5

Texas (11-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at Tech

4. 11-7

Iowa St (10-7) Projected L’s: N/A
At Risk Games: N/A

K-State (10-7) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: N/A

6. 8.5-9.5

W. Virginia (8-9) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: KU

7. 8-10

Baylor (8- 9) Projected L’s: at KSU
At-risk games: N/A

Okie St (8-9) Projected L’s: at ISU
At-risk games: N/A

9. 5.5-12.5

Texas Tech (5-12) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: UT

10. 0-18

TCU (0-17) Projected L’s: OU
At-risk games: N/A

Upcoming Games

All times CST

Saturday:

1. KU at West Virginia (11:00a.m.) ***1/2 (At-risk game)

The Mountaineers gave KU a respectable game in Lawrence. Even a momentary scare. In Morgantown, with Embiid out of the line-up, and WVU thinking—correctly or not—that they still have a chance for an NCAA bid, this promises to be a wild, tough game for the Jayhawks. Its importance? Any chance of a 1 seed will likely disappear with a snowman in the L column. If you care about things like that.

2. Baylor at K-State (12:30p.m.) **** (Projected W: K-State)

If you have been marooned in outer space, set adrift from your spacecraft, struggling to find an abandoned Russian vehicle to commandeer for a return to this planet, and have not heard, no Big 12 team has ever received an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney with a sub-.500 record. If Baylor loses this game, as projected, it could be the first exception.

3. Okie St at Iowa St (1:00p.m.) **** (Projected W: ISU)

If you have been marooned in outer space, set adrift from your spacecraft, struggling to find an abandoned Russian vehicle to commandeer for a return to this planet, and have not heard, no Big 12 team has ever received an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney with a sub-.500 record. If Okie St loses this game, as projected, it could be the first exception. Of course, its chances at 8-10 are better than Baylor’s with the same record, because the selection committee will cut OSU some slack for Smart’s suspension, during which time the Okie Aggies went 0-3.

Here’s a hint, selection committee: Don’t cut Okie St any slack. They would have almost certainly lost two of those games anyway (at Texas and at Baylor), and the other (vs. OU in Stillwater) was iffy. They had, after all, lost four straight and five of six prior to Smart’s suspension.

4. Oklahoma at TCU (3:00p.m.) * (Projected W: OU)

If all goes as projected, OU wraps up at least a share of second place and the 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament, while TCU wraps up a perfect season of futility.

5. Texas at Texas Tech (3:00p.m.) ***1/2 (At risk game)

The final piece of the Big 12 puzzle. As a number of teams, including KU have discovered, Tech is a tough out in Lubbock. Heck, they were a tough out in Austin.

–Mark

REAL Standings: The “Screw you, Bilas: We beat KU, we storm the court” Edition

posted by Mark on 3/2/2014 - -

WEEKEND RECAP

The thing about clinching the conference championship with three games remaining is that everything after that is anticlimactic. Indeed, KU lost at Okie St, as projected way back when the Cowboys were considered a Tier One team, and it didn’t matter other than a little bit of hurt pride.

Nor did Okie St’s storm the court victory mean much in the REAL Standings, unless you call moving into a 7th place tie with Baylor “much.”

Of course, it kept OSU’s dream of sneaking into the NCAA tournament alive; but they still need to take care of business on Big Monday vs. K-State to avoid finishing below .500 in games in Marcus Smart was not suspended for assaulting a fan. (Assuming Okie St loses Saturday, as projected, in Ames.) As noted ad infinitum and ad nauseum by CBB talking heads, no Big 12 team has ever been invited to the Dance with a losing record in conference play: 7-8 with Smart might not cut it.

No other Saturday game had any REAL meaning. Oklahoma and Texas remained in sole possession of second place with its projected win at Home vs. Texas. K-State’s projected w at Home vs. Iowa St kept both teams a half game back of OU. Tech lost at Baylor and TCU went down at West Virginia for zero movement among those four teams.

THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS TIERS

1. Tier One: Iowa St, K-State, KU, Oklahoma, Texas

2. Tier Two: Baylor, Okie St, Texas Tech, West Virginia

3. Tier Three: TCU

THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS:

1. 14.5-3.5

KU (13-3) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at WVU

2. 12-6

Oklahoma (10-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: N/A

3. 11.5-6.5

Iowa St (10-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At Risk Games: at BU

Texas (10-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at Tech

K-State (10-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at OSU

6. 8.5-9.5

W. Virginia (8-8) Projected L’s: at OU
At-risk games: KU

7. 7.5-10.5

Baylor (7- 9) Projected L’s: at KSU
At-risk games: ISU

Okie St (7-9) Projected L’s: at ISU
At-risk games: KSU

9. 5.5-12.5

Texas Tech (5-11) Projected L’s: at KU
At-risk games: UT

10. 0-18

TCU (0-16) Projected L’s: at UT, OU
At-risk games: N/A

Upcoming Games

All times CST

Monday:

1. K-State at Okie St (8:3p.m.) * (At-risk game)

Notwithstanding its win Saturday night vs. KU, this is a MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST Win game for Okie St. They cannot afford to finish 7-11 in league play, Marcus Smart suspension notwithstanding, and their next game is at Iowa St (projected loss).

Tuesday

2. Iowa St at Baylor (12:30p.m.) ** (Projected W: BU)

Notwithstanding its win Saturday vs. Tech, this is a MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST Win game for Baylor. They cannot afford to finish 7-11 in league play, and their next game is at K-State (projected loss).

Wednesday

3. TCU at Texas (7:00p.m.) * (Projected W: UT)

Two good signs for Texas: 1, They’re at Home. 2. They’re playing TCU.

4. Texas Tech at KU (7:00p.m.)** (Projected W: KU)

Two good signs for KU: 1. They’re at Home. 2. They’re playing another Big 12 team.

5. West Virginia at Oklahoma (8:00p.m.) **** (At risk game)

Two good signs for Oklahoma. 1. You know. 2. You know.

–Mark

REAL Standings: The What Now Edition

posted by Mark on 2/27/2014 - -

MIDWEEK RECAP

KU picked up no ground in the REAL Standings on its followers by defeating Oklahoma, as projected, at Home, but didn’t need to. The rest of the league is now out of games.

OU, of course, lost no ground, but maintained its position in sole possession of second place.

Meanwhile, K-State picked up half a game courtesy of its victory in Lubbock, in the process moving into a three way tie for third place with Iowa St and Texas, both of whom won as projected: Iowa St avenging its loss at West Virginia, and Texas finishing off its season sweep of Baylor at Home.

Finally, Okie St kept its post-season hopes alive with a W in Fort Worth, pretty much assuring TCU of a winless conference season.

It was fun. Now, what do we do the next three games?

Well, there is a wild four team race for second place, which could prove important for seeding purposes in both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.

And there are the various individual honors handed out as the season winds down.

Including Coach of the Year.

Recently, I queried Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News via twitter as to why anyone but Bill Self should be considered a candidate for Big 12 Coach of the Year. His answer: “They all had Barnes fired before the year began.”

This is true. I nominate Rick Barnes for Survivor of the Year.

But Bill Self is Coach of the Year. He lost five starters, yet clinched the Big 12 in fifteen games.

As for Barnes, he has done a nice job with the talent that didn’t jump ship, but his signature Road win is either at West Virginia or Baylor, both lower division teams. UT team has gone 7-1 at Home, but championships are not won at Home, and neither should be Coach of the Year Honors.

Now if TCU had UT’s season, I would vote for Trent Johnson. Maybe if they were 4-14. Now that would be a REAL coaching feat.

THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS TIERS

1. Tier One: Iowa St, K-State, KU, Oklahoma, Texas

2. Tier Two: Baylor, Okie St, Texas Tech, West Virginia

3. Tier Three: TCU

THE CURRENT REAL STANDINGS:

1. 15-3

KU (13-2) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at OSU, at WVU

2. 12-6

Oklahoma (9-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: N/A

3. 11.5-6.5

Iowa St (10-5) Projected L’s: at K-State
At Risk Games: at BU

Texas (10-5) Projected L’s: at OU
At-risk games: at Tech

K-State (9-6) Projected L’s: N/A
At-risk games: at OSU

6. 8.5-9.5

W. Virginia (7-8) Projected L’s: at OU
At-risk games: KU

7. 7.5-10.5

Baylor (6- 9) Projected L’s: at KSU
At-risk games: ISU

8. 7-11

Okie St (6-9) Projected L’s: at ISU
At-risk games: KU, KSU

9. 5.5-12.5

Texas Tech (5-10) Projected L’s: at BU, at KU
At-risk games: UT

10. 0-18

TCU (0-15) Projected L’s: at WVU, at UT, OU
At-risk games: N/A

Upcoming Games

All times CST

Saturday:

1. TCU at West Virginia (12:30p.m.) * (Projected W: WVU)

There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is, however, a free win. Eighteen of them in the Big 12.

2. Texas Tech at Baylor (12:30p.m.) ** (Projected W: BU)

Pretty much a Must Win for Baylor if they want to keep alive any hope of playing with the big boys in March as opposed to defending their NIT crown.

3. Texas at Oklahoma (3:00p.m.) ***1/2 (Projected W: OU)

A UT win here and I will listen to an argument for Barnes as COY. He will at last have a signature win. A loss for UT, and the only coach to sweep Barnes should pilfer all of Barnes’ support.

4. Iowa St at K-State (7:00p.m.)***1/2 (Projected W: K-State)

K-State’s claim to fame is being the other Big 12 team that is undefeated at Home. A win here would be a REAL feather in the Mayor’s cap in his campaign for COY.

5. KU at Okie St (8:00p.m.) **** (At risk game)

Marcus Smart. Game Day. Home Court. Desperate team on the rim of survival. Young opponent that has already wrapped up its school’s tenth straight championship. Lock of the week, right?

Not so fast, Gallagher-Iba breath. How good will the Jayhawks be in an environment in which they can play free and loose, without anything to lose, without a care in the world?

Don’t bet against the REAL Coach of the Year.

–Mark