Three Takeaways From Week 8 of Big 12 Basketball
The eighth week of Big 12 men’s basketball saw the league race come into further clarity. Here are three takeaways from the eighth week of the league slate.
Don’t forget about our new feature for men’s basketball — Daily Fantasy Lineups. Every night a Big 12 team is part of the Draft Kings pool, I’ll provide my picks for the game, along with my complete lineup. The hope is that by Big 12 play I’m able to put together a full Big 12 lineup during conference games.
The road to Kansas City and the Big 12 Tournament is here. Follow Heartland College Sports all season.
The ‘Every Metric’ Argument
ESPN Gameday was at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for the Baylor-Kansas game. It was one tremendous Big 12 hype show that commissioner Brett Yormark was likely quite happy with. There was newly-minted Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Holly Rowe and her feature on Baylor’s Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. There was Bill Self with the Gameday crew telling them that “seven teams” are capable of winning the Big 12 this year.
Then there was this comment by LaPhonso Ellis.
“There are no nights off in this league. You think of Texas Tech, they have three wins over top 25 teams, Iowa State, Kansas State, and just recently over No. 6 Texas. So you talk about those two teams and I agree with you, Kansas and Baylor have an excellent chance to get to the Final Four and win a national championship. It’s because they are playing in a league that is the best league in all of college basketball in every single metric,” he said.
To start with, the league’s average NET rating is less than 30. Now, that’s just taking each team’s NET rating, adding it together and dividing by 10. But I checked on Sunday. The worst NET rating of any Big 12 team belongs to Oklahoma, which enters the week one game under .500. The Sooners are No. 63.
That’s plain absurd.
KenPom (which is Baylor coach Scott Drew’s brand of choice)? All 10 are in the Top 56, with Texas Tech bringing up the rear.
Then there was Self’s comment about seven different teams being able to win the league. Do you doubt it? Have you seen the standings? The top seven teams are within three games of co-leaders Kansas and Texas.
The Big 12 Tournament will be appointment television, and we should enjoy it. Next year, the league moves away from the double round-robin schedule with the addition of four new teams. It will still be an 18-game schedule. But the double round-robin is helping the Big 12 this year. Basically every game is a Quad 1 or a Quad 2 game.
Some of that will take a hit next year. The Big 12 stands to be one of the best leagues in college basketball next season. But there’s no doubt it will be a bit different.
So let’s enjoy these next few weeks. It’s going to be something to watch.
Too Late, Texas Tech?
I thought once the Red Raiders got Fardaws Aimaq back they would go on a run. It just took more time that any of us expected.
But, with Aimaq back on the floor consistently, the Red Raiders have won three straight. They’re playing through him now in the high post, which helps spread out their offense. He’s a quality passer and that gives the Red Raiders chances to run back cuts and other action away from the ball. He’s coming off a double-double against West Virginia.
The play of De’Vion Harmon has been consistent all season. Jaylon Tyson is in his best groove of the season. With just four league wins, I feel like Texas Tech needs three more to have a true chance. But, as I noted above, this is a unique year for the league. If the Red Raiders can win just two more and get to six league wins, and then win a couple of in Kansas City, they may just have a chance at the NCAA Tournament.
The Mike Miles return
There’s nothing like getting your best player back. That was clear when Mike Miles returned on Saturday for TCU against Oklahoma State.
The whole team responded like few Horned Frog teams have ever responded.
Miles’ value is clear. With him in late January the Horned Frogs went into Lawrence and embarrassed the Jayhawks by 23 points. Without him, starting with the Mississippi State game — where he played just four minutes before hyperextending his knee — the Horned Frogs were 2-5.
TCU hosts Kansas on Big Monday. The Horned Frogs may not be a Top 4 seed anymore. They may end up a fifth or a sixth in March Madness.
But the question one must ask is do you want to play a healthy TCU team, one that nearly upset Arizona in the second round of last year’s tournament?
I wouldn’t want that smoke, especially if TCU’s needle keeps turning up the next couple of weeks.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard