Final Third of Big 12 Race to Lucky 13 Jayhawk Titles

Final Third of Big 12 Race to Lucky 13 Jayhawk Titles

Each of the Big 12 title contenders have now play 12 of their 18 conference games. This race is historic as Kansas has a chance to win their 13th Big 12 title in a row which would tie UCLA’s record from the 60s-70s. College basketball has changed drastically since the Bruin dynasty and conferences have added more members. That makes the Jayhawks run all the more unbelievable.

A simple way to win the lucky 13th title is to win the remaining six conference games. While that is possible, it would mean winning at least a couple of very tough games. We looked at the race after six games and now it is time to do it again to predict the winner.

We’ll go through each of the three contenders starting with third place West Virginia. I’ll predict the outcome of each of the remaining games to give us the final conference standings.

West Virginia (8-4)

at Kansas – LOSS
Texas Tech – WIN
Texas – WIN
at TCU – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
Iowa State – WIN

Based on those predictions, West Virginia would finish 12-6.

Baylor (9-3)

at Texas Tech – WIN
Kansas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Iowa State – LOSS
West Virginia – WIN
at Texas – WIN

Based on these predictions, Baylor would finish 14-4.

Kansas (10-2)

West Virginia – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
TCU – WIN
at Texas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Oklahoma State – WIN

Based on these predictions, Kansas would also finish 15-3 and win their 13th consecutive title.

In the last three weeks of games, there were some upsets that I hadn’t predicted in the last round. I didn’t expect Baylor to lose at home to Kansas State and it was a real shock that the Jayhawks lost a game in Allen Fieldhouse to Iowa State. Kansas made up a game in the standings by beating Kansas State in Manhattan.

The next two games could decide the race. Baylor plays next at Texas Tech. Lubbock spelled a loss for West Virginia and Kansas needed a last second free throw to escape with a one point victory. Meanwhile West Virginia plays at Kansas. If the Mountaineers pull the upset, they are back in the race. A loss will most likely eliminate them.

Then Kansas plays at Baylor. If form holds and the Jayhawks beat West Virginia, the conference race could be ended with a road win in Waco. Alternatively Baylor could pull ahead in the race if the Jayhawks lose to both the Mountaineers and the Bears.

Given the current standings and upcoming games, I give the Jayhawks an 85% chance of at least getting a share of the title and a 70% chance of winning it outright. That could change drastically in the next week. We’ll look at the state of the race next week to see if it is all but decided or still up for grabs.

Will the Writers Push the Jayhawks to the Top of the Polls?

Will the Writers Push the Jayhawks to the Top of the Polls?

It was an odd situation last week when the polls were released. Kansas was at the top of the Coaches poll, but ranked second in the AP poll. What made it strange was that the Jayhawks received more first place votes, but had fewer overall points than Villanova. Both teams were victorious in their two games, but it is possible the Jayhawks can still leapfrog the Wildcats in the AP poll.

Above you can see the current top five in the AP poll along with game results since the poll was released and the point totals. One thing is pretty sure and that is UCLA will drop as they lost to Arizona yesterday. I would guess their three first place votes will be up for grabs.

Let’s dig a little deeper into why the Jayhawks trailed Villanova by 18 points. The point system is pretty straightforward. A team gets 25 points for first, 24 points for second, etc. So if there was a single writer who voted a team really low, that would drag down their point total. Last week, Graham Couch voted Kansas #13 on his ballot!

I don’t expect Couch to change his stance drastically, but there were losses by several of the teams he had ranked ahead of the Jayhawks. From that one writer alone, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Jayhawks gain five or more points. No other voter had Kansas outside of the Top Five. Even those who voted them at 4 or 5 will likely move them up a spot or two based on the results of the week. That would represent a few more votes. To pass Villanova, they would need at least 18 more votes.

Will it happen? I’m not sure. But I think the overall vote total between the top two spots will be less than five votes. One thing is pretty certain to me and that is wins at West Virginia and Kentucky would definitely put the Jayhawks in the top spot regardless of the outcome of any other games.

Predicting the Jayhawks Chance at Lucky 13 Big 12 Titles

Predicting the Jayhawks Chance at Lucky 13 Big 12 Titles

All teams in the Big 12 have played 6 of their 18 conference basketball games and three teams have separated themselves in the standings. Note that there are four more teams with 3-3 records that would have a chance to win the title if they were to win out. While possible, that is highly unlikely. Let’s look at the remaining schedules for each of the three contenders and take a guess at the Jayhawks chance of winning their 13th consecutive Big 12 title.

I’ve listed each of the schedules in reverse order, so we’ll start with West Virginia who are currently in third place. Just looking at their remaining schedule, I’ll predict a win or a less to come up with a predicted final conference record.

West Virginia (4-2)

at Kansas State – LOSS
Kansas – WIN
at Iowa State – LOSS
Oklahoma State – WIN
at Oklahoma – WIN
Kansas State – WIN
at Kansas – LOSS
Texas Tech – WIN
Texas – WIN
at TCU – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
Iowa State – WIN

Based on those predictions, West Virginia would finish 12-6.

Baylor (5-1)

at TCU – WIN
Texas Tech – WIN
at Kansas – LOSS
Kansas State – WIN
at Oklahoma State – WIN
TCU – WIN
at Texas Tech – WIN
Kansas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Iowa State – LOSS
West Virginia – WIN
at Texas – WIN

Based on these predictions, Baylor would finish 15-3.

Kansas (6-0)

Texas – WIN
at West Virginia – LOSS
Baylor – WIN
Iowa State – WIN
at Kansas State – LOSS
at Texas Tech – WIN
West Virginia – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
TCU – WIN
at Texas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Oklahoma State – WIN

Based on these predictions, Kansas would also finish 15-3 and tie Baylor for the title.

As I went through my predictions, I didn’t throw in any real upsets. Will the Jayhawks truly lose at both West Virginia and Baylor? Will they truly have another perfect season in Allen Fieldhouse? Baylor has been known to regress in previous seasons, will that happen again? If any of that changes, so could the race.

Right now I’d guess Kansas has at least an 80% chance of at least sharing the title to give them 13 straight. The next game for Baylor is at TCU and the Horned Frogs are much improved this season. Should the Bears lose that one, the race could be over sooner rather than later.

I’ll revisit the race when all of the teams have played 12 of the 18 games and we’ll re-evaluate where they all stand.

KU vs. Memphis Preview and Prediction

KU vs. Memphis Preview and Prediction

As Jayhawk fans, we all wanted to believe the resounding win in the opener against Rhode Island would carry over against Ohio. Alas, neither the offense or defense did anything positive in the first half. The only good moment was a special teams punt return touchdown. While the second half was better, the hole was already too deep.

Now it is time for the first road game of the season. The last road win was on September 12, 2009 in the West Texas town of El Paso. That’s more than seven years of road losses and probably too many shots of tequila to numb the pain! While a road win would be a huge boost for this team, it may not happen this season.

Memphis whipped the Jayhawks handily last season in Lawrence. KU has improved since that game and the Tigers are without the head coach and first round draft choice quarterback they had in last season’s game. But will these trends be good enough for a road win?

After the debacle of a first half last week, I do expect a better start this week. We might even see the teams trading scores early. Will there be three turnovers by special teams again? I’d say that is highly unlikely.

The defensive line was at full strength and got gashed last week for a lot of big runs up the middle. I expect the coaches will clean that up a bit, but I still see Memphis grinding out yards on the ground. The best hope is to see the Tigers throwing the ball to test the Kansas corners. KU may not be able to stop them, but it does open the door for a possible game-changing turnover.

Just like the defensive line, their counterparts on offense were equally ineffective. Pass-blocking was mostly good, but there was no running game at all. These guys are young and that could lead to bigger improvements from week to week. I just don’t think it will be a big enough jump to let the running backs do much.

Our friends in Las Vegas see Kansas as a nearly three touchdown underdog. I’m going to hope the coaches can clean up the mistakes so the Jayhawks can stay in this game longer. But my prediction still spells another road loss with Memphis 42 Kansas 31. Uno mas tequila, por favor!

KU vs. Ohio Preview and Prediction

KU vs. Ohio Preview and Prediction

After a long wait, the Jayhawk football team got back in the winning column. Before I get to this week’s game, let’s take a look back at the six things I was watching in the opener against Rhode Island.

Quarterbacks: Overall they did well with only one bad mistake. None of the quarterbacks separated themselves and so we’ll likely continue to see a shuffling between Cozart and Willis. Offensive Line: Two freshmen were among the starting five and the line did a good job. This will get tougher so hopefully they can continue to keep the quarterbacks upright and the backs running forward. Receivers: They did very well and one more weapon should play this week. Defensive Line: They didn’t play as well as I’d like, but two starters were unavailable. I hope we’ll see some improvement this week. Edge Defense: The defensive backs also got off to a good start considering their youth. They need to improve for Big 12 play. Special Teams: Kickoffs and punts went well. Placekicking still has a lot of room for improvement.

I was afraid my prediction for game one might be a little too optimistic and yet both the offense did better (points-wise) than I predicted. As a Jayhawk fan, I can only hope they continue to beat my predictions.

Think back to the Nebraska teams of old and you have a pretty good idea of the type of football you’ll see from Ohio. They may not have the talent from Nebraska teams of old, but they have similar offensive and defensive philosophies. Of course that is probably because their head coach, Frank Solich, is the former Cornhusker coach.

Ohio is going to want to run the ball with a more limited passing game. This makes the Jayhawk defensive line very important. Adding D.J. Williams and Marcquis Roberts should give the defense a little more firepower to plug up the holes and limit the Bobcats’ running game. Keep the drives short so that players don’t get worn down and it could be a banner day for the Jayhawks.

On offense, Jeremiah Booker will likely be added to the weapons at receiver. Extra available bodies on the line will help open holes and give the quarterbacks extra time to hit an open receiver. I don’t expect them to score as much as in the first game, but I do expect they’ll have success.

There were only four flags on the Jayhawks in the first game, but two of those four were very frustrating. Getting penalized on the first play of the game for delay of game is just unbelievable. Players had the entire offseason to be prepared for that play. Near the end of the first half, two timeouts were called to get the perfect fourth and one play. Then twelve men on the field move the ball back and a missed field goal followed. I do expect silly penalties like this will be cleaned up going forward.

Prediction: As the week started, the Jayhawks were nine point underdogs. A day later and the Jayhawks were favored by three. When a line moves like that, it is because money was being bet on the Jayhawks. Are the gamblers smart or are biased fans throwing away money? I’m once again going to predict the Jayhawks are going to beat the line. I’ll say Kansas 38 – Ohio 31.

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