Sorting Out The Big 12 Mess: OU Overrated, Watch Out For Mizzou

Tyler SimmonsContributor IFebruary 10, 2009

First things first, I'm a KU fan, so this is not some editorial about some MU fan making  biased statements.  However, I'm not counting the Jayhawks out of anything either. Just hear me out. 

Here's a quick rundown on the standings of the Big 12. The Sooners are undefeated at the top, and Kansas holds the second spot, Mizzou a game behind in third. These three are the clear front-runners for the conference title.  

First thing I want to stress as you probably already know, Oklahoma is overrated.  I know a win is a win, but you can also tell how talented your team really is by looking at the scores. 

They beat Colorado who is 1-7, tied for last in the conference, by five points, and it was close all throughout the second half.  When they played USC (who Mizzou beat by double-digits), they escaped by a mere one point.  Last, but not least, they played Davidson (who has gone on to lose to the College of Charleston, and fall off the national picture COMPLETELY), and they got the win by four points.

Not to mention an eight-point loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks (1-7 in the depleted SEC so far this year)

People telling me, a win is a win and that's all that counts—you're not telling me something I don't know. 

The point I'm trying to make is if I'm looking to see how quality of a team Oklahoma is, we definitely don't see it by looking at how they've played non-quality teams. 

The style Mizzou plays makes them capable to beat ANY team, any day.  However, the style they play makes them susceptible to losing to a LOT of teams, and look bad doing it. 

Mizzou was absolutely killed in the annual "braggin' rights" game against Illinois on a neutral court.  Do I believe it's because Illinois is a much better team? Absolutely not. 

As you probably know, Mizzou presses like no other team and in forcing turnovers.  Unfortunately, that can backfire on them and make them lose games they're capable of winning. 

In the Illini game, Illinois torched the press because of the awareness and experience of senior point guard, Chester Frazier. A quick two, three passes and it's a lay-up on the other end.  That's Mizzou's only downfall is they put their faith in winning games into one thing and that's their full court pressure.

Not to mention the way Kansas State torched them for an 88-72 loss.  (The loss doesn't look so bad now though seeing their wins and resume up to this date.)

So to sum up everything about Missouri: Katy Perry's "Hot and Cold" song should be their theme song. 

Now to the defending national champion Jayhawks.  They've had a fairly easy schedule so far.  Can't pull away a ton of information due to the lack of big matchups with other teams.  Let's see what we can take away from KU, looking at who they have played.

As far as their out of conference schedule goes, they were very mediocre at best.  They got blown out by Arizona, who has just proven to be a sub .500 team in the Pac-10. 

In their game against Syracuse they had the upper hand for most of the game.  A couple lucky plays by the Orange got them into overtime where they went on to win. 

And as far as the UMass loss goes: I'm at a loss for words.

The loss at Michigan State, I'm not blaming them for too much.  It's tough to go into Michigan State and pull off a non-conference win against Izzo's team.  Only the top ten or fifteen teams have the ability to pull that off.

They made up for the okay non conference schedule by starting off 8-0 in the Big 12, staying neck and neck with OU for first place. The loss at Mizzou was just flat out, two of the best three teams in the Big 12 going at it and one team had to lose.  Not taking anything away from them for that. 

So we've gotten through reviewing what all three of the teams have been through and accomplished.  Looked at their ups and downs, and strength of schedule here's some conclusions we can draw from the Big 12's top three teams. 

Mizzou is the most impressive.  Oklahoma has potential to be good, but seems overrated as the No. 2 team in the country right now.  Kansas needs to play some more quality teams before we see where they stand among these three teams. 

If I've got to go one team right now as the Big 12 favorite, and that's counting in who they've beaten, how bad they've beaten teams, strength of schedule, overall player talent, and current coaching strategies that benefit their team the most.

It goes to Mizzou. No doubt.

The tandem of senior forwards DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons can't be overlooked either.  If the press breaks down and they're forced to slow it down and play some half court ball, then the team can look to them for experience and big buckets. 

They just seemed to be the most balanced when you look for the overall quality of a basketball team.

Coming in second is the Sooners.  They're overrated, but still a top 10 team.  When you have a player of the year candidate that can carry you past teams single handedly that helps. 

Right now, Kansas is third, but they have the potential to be number one.  We just have to wait and see how the rest of their schedule turns out, because we can't draw to many conclusions from what's happened so far.

We still have a month to go.  A lot of things can change, and this article can mean NOTHING in a few weeks. But, for my two-cents worth on how the Big 12 teams stack up at the top, you got it.