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Around the Big 12 in Basketball: Fun With Tiebreakers

It’s a two-horse race at the top for the Big 12, and we’re about ready to call in a lawyer to help understand tiebreakers.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

How’s everyone doing? Y’all see that new Game of Thrones trailer? I swear, they better put Arya on the Iron Throne. She’s the only worthy character left, in my opinion.

Anyway, about a couple months ago, I wrote a column urging TCU fans not to panic. Things had been worse, I wrote. Surely the Frogs’ propensity for failing to rise up to challenging opponents wouldn’t come back to bite us in the Big 12!

Well. About that. TCU has lost six of its last seven games and is now eighth in the Big 12. The Frogs are 6-11 in conference play and are only above cellar-dwellers Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The train is nearly fully off the tracks, and it might take a miracle Big 12 tournament run for TCU to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. That’s an almost unthinkable sentence for a team ranked in the AP Top 25 as late as January 7.

But enough about the Frogs’ sorrows. There’s a race for the Big 12 title going on, after all, and it’s high time we got to talking about it.

Texas Tech (25-5, 13-4 Big 12)/Kansas State (23-7, 13-4 Big 12): The Red Raiders and Wildcats are tied at the top of the Big 12, and unless there’s a massive upset it looks like they’ll stay that way. Tech needed overtime to beat Oklahoma State last Wednesday before rolling over TCU and Texas, and the Red Raiders have Iowa State on the road Saturday in their final regular season game. Kansas State scraped by Baylor and held off TCU, and will face Oklahoma at home Saturday in its last game.

The Big 12 tiebreaker procedures might as well be written in Sanskrit. I spent five minutes trying to parse this paragraph, which comes into effect if two teams finish with tied records and split the season series (which Tech and KSU did):

Each team’s record versus the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings, and then continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage. When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tiebreaking procedures), rather than the performance against individual tied teams. The lone exception to this guideline would be if there are only two tied teams in the group placement and one of the teams won both regular-season games. In this instance, the tie is deemed broken and comparison of the seed rather than the placement will be utilized.

My eyes crossed over there for a second.

Anyway, what I think that means is that Kansas State holds the edge, because the Wildcats and Red Raiders both went 1-1 against third-place Kansas, but KSU swept fourth-place Baylor while Tech split its games against the Bears.

Kansas (22-7, 11-5 Big 12): Maybe you caught that phrase in the above paragraph: “third-place Kansas.” The Jayhawks’ reign of terror over the Big 12 seems to finally be coming to an end this season, although Kansas is still ranked higher than KSU for some reason. I just assume this means Kansas will win the Big 12 Tournament by 30 points as some form of payback.

The Jayhawks beat Oklahoma State in their lone game since the last edition of this column, and will play Oklahoma on the road tonight and Baylor at home Saturday.

Baylor (19-10, 10-6 Big 12): Makai Mason isn’t his normal self yet, but Mario Kegler has picked up the slack for the Bears, leading Baylor in points in each of his last three games. The Bears are 2-1 in that stretch, including an overtime win at home against Texas Wednesday and a loss to Kansas State on the road Saturday.

Baylor plays Oklahoma State at home Wednesday before traveling to play what will most likely be a ticked-off Kansas team Saturday.

Iowa State (20-9, 9-7 Big 12): The Cyclones looked like bona fide Big 12 title contenders early in the conference schedule, but since then, they’ve fallen off significantly. Iowa State has lost four of its last six, including a loss at Texas on Saturday. I still think the Cyclones are a good team, but they’ve rarely shown it in the Big 12. That just means they’ll ruin someone’s NCAA Tournament, I guess.

ISU plays West Virginia on the road Wednesday before hosting Texas Tech Saturday in what could be a very entertaining game if the Cyclones decide to get frisky.

Texas (16-14, 8-9 Big 12): Texas has been on the same skid as Iowa State, losing four of its last six games. The Longhorns did beat ISU last week but also lost at Texas Tech by 19.

Texas isn’t a tournament team, according to ESPN. The Longhorns might have a chance to change that if they beat TCU Saturday and make a run in the Big 12 Tournament.

Oklahoma (18-11, 6-10 Big 12): The Sooners put up 92 on West Virginia, but the road does not get easier at all. Oklahoma plays Kansas in Norman tonight and closes out its season at Kansas State on Saturday. It’s a bear of a schedule, but if the Sooners want to throw a wrench in the Big 12 title race, they’ve got a perfect opportunity this week.

TCU (18-12, 6-11 Big 12): I mean, y’all know already. Start buying Lipscomb jerseys.

That TCU-Texas game is at 11 a.m. Saturday, for those wondering, and should be on ESPN2.

West Virginia (11-18, 3-10 Big 12): After losing to Oklahoma Saturday, the Mountaineers have won just one of their last seven games. That was, of course, a triple-overtime win over TCU last Tuesday, because the universe is cruel and unfair and enjoys a good practical joke every once in a while.

West Virginia goes to Iowa State Wednesday and closes out its season in the Toilet Bowl against Oklahoma State Saturday at 3 p.m.

Oklahoma State (10-19, 3-13 Big 12): After losing to Texas Tech and Kansas last week, the Cowboys have won just one of their last nine games, That was, of course, a win over TCU. See a pattern, here?

The Cowboys play Baylor on the road Wednesday before facing West Virginia.