You want to handicap the Big 12 race five weeks into the season? Everyone with the exception of Oklahoma has played at least four games. We should have a good idea of who is the favorite, shouldn't we?
Well, good luck with that. A combination of very poor nonconference schedules to go along with a bunch of good, if not very good teams, means nobody really knows how all this is going to play out.
In a feeble attempt to sort through the Big 12 race with one month of the season officially in the rear view mirror, let's turn to the methodology the NBA uses in its draft lottery.
Without delving into the mathematical specifics, the lottery is weighted in such a way that the teams with the worst records have the greatest chance of having their ping pong selected and thus receiving the number one pick.
The NBA lottery consists of 14 teams with the main take away for our purposes being that even though the chance is minute (see Iowa State in the chart), the team with the 14th worst record still has a chance of receiving the number one pick, or in this case, of winning the Big 12.
In the NBA lottery, there are 1000 different combinations that result in determining a team's chances of being awarded the top pick That obviously changes here since the Big 12 only has 10 teams, but to keep it simple, we're assuming there are still 1000 possible outcomes of how the Big 12 standings could come out (not mathematically possible, but roll with it here).
Based on these very unscientific results, here are the chances of each Big 12 team hoisting the Big 12 trophy on December 1st. The thing to take away here probably isn't that Kansas State or Texas have the highest probabilities of winning the conference (complete opinion, no formulas were actually used. Again, roll with it) but rather that everyone not named Kansas (sorry Jayhawks, not this year) still has a chance.
|Team||Chances out of 1000||% chance|
Kansas State (22.5%): The Wildcats are the odds on favorite at this point for two reasons: they've already passed one of the biggest landmines on their schedule; beating Oklahoma in Norman. They also are the most balanced team in the league. The offense isn't the best and neither is the defense, but put the two together with near perfect execution and you have a serious Big 12 title contender.
Texas (20%): It looks like the Longhorns finally found on a quarterback capable of putting the ball in the end zone which answers the biggest question coming into the season. Now if the defense can get to the level many expected it would be, you have the makings of a Big 12 champion. Winning on the road in Stillwater was huge and if they can survive the next two weeks against West Virginia and Oklahoma, their odds of winning the conference, go way, way, up.
West Virginia (17.5%): Well, we know the Mountaineers can score points, but they also gave up 63 points to Baylor at home. With as good as their offense has been, does it really matter how good (or bad) their defense is? You would have to think it does. The sky is the limit for this team, but when the offense sputters - and it will at some point - can they rely on their defense to keep them in a game. If the answer is yes, they're serious contenders. If not, they'll be playing for second place.
Oklahoma (15%): On paper, this might be the best team in the Big 12. On the field though, Oklahoma has struggled and the Sooners Big 12 chances took a major hit losing at home to Kansas State. There's plenty of time to recover, however. If the Sooners can pick up wins over Texas Tech and Texas the next two weeks, they'll be right back on track. Oklahoma has plenty to improve upon, but counting out the Sooners this early wouldn't be the wisest thing to do.
TCU ( 10%): Through the first four games, TCU defense has been rock solid allowing only 29 points. The offense hasn't been putting up big points usually because it has been its own worst enemy. We're going to have to wait until the second half of the season to fully gauge whether the Horned Frogs are legitimate contenders, but for now, they're 4-0 with winnable games with Iowa State and Baylor straight ahead.
Oklahoma State (8.5%): The Cowboys might be just 2-2, but they proved Saturday night they aren't going to go quietly against any team in the league, freshmen quarterbacks or not. It's not likely they'll repeat as Big 12 champs, but you can rest assured they'll beat at least one of the teams who are. And with the league wide open as it is, they're not out of it by any means, although losing at home is going to be a hurdle they'll have to overcome if they want to get back to the top.
Texas Tech (4%): They're 4-0 but there probably isn't a team in the league we know less about than Texas Tech. Winning against Iowa State on Saturday night was an improvement over the past two seasons and an important first step, but the next two weekends will be the litmus test when they host both OU and West Virginia. If they can win at least one of them, Tech is going to hang around the top of the Big 12 standings longer than most people expected.
Baylor: (1.5%): Nobody's high on the Bears after giving up 70 points to West Virginia. Look at another way, however, and the Bears went on the road and lost to a supposed top ten team by just seven points. If the Bears are ever going to be considered serious contenders, their defense is simply going to have to prove it can stop someone. They gave up 30 or more points 10 different times last season and so far the is year, it looks like more of the same.
Iowa State (1%): Iowa State was the anti-Big 12 on Saturday night: great defense and a horrendous offense. The good news is there are plenty of mediocre defenses they'll face going forward so if they can figure out how to hold onto the ball, they should be able to score a few points. Their defense has a chance to keep them in most games but even so, they aren't going to hold every team in check meaning their offense is simply have to find the end zone more frequently.
Kansas (0%): I'm still holding out hope that Kansas will find a way to win one or two Big 12 games, but even if the do, there's no way they're are winning the Big 12 in 2012. This is simply one lottery they are not part of and they have a steep mountain to climb before they're even part of that conversation again.