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Archive for Friday, January 5, 2007

Big 12 down? Self says ‘Baloney’

January 5, 2007

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Bill Self has a simple response to those who believe the Big 12 Conference is putting an inferior men's basketball product on the floor this season.

"Baloney," Kansas University's fourth-year coach said Thursday.

He was peppered with questions at his weekly news conference and Big 12 coaches' teleconference about the league's early RPI rankings - figures not flattering as the nonconference season comes to a close.

"I think our league is about where we thought it'd be, but a little bit stronger," Self said of the Big 12, which, according to Web site kenpom.com, is ranked sixth in RPI behind the Pac-10, Atlantic Coast, Missouri Valley, Southeastern and Big Ten conferences.

Oklahoma State (14-1) leads the Big 12 with an overall RPI national ranking of 18, followed by Missouri (11-2), which is ranked 31st, Texas Tech (11-4, 36th in RPI), Kansas State (10-4, 46th), Texas A&M (12-2, 53rd), KU (12-2, 55th), Nebraska (10-3, 64th), Texas (10-3, 72nd), Oklahoma (8-4, 76th), Iowa State (9-5, 160th), Baylor (10-3, 165th) and Colorado (4-6, 268th).

There are 336 teams in Div. I.

"Our league : here is what I'd tell you. Where was Missouri picked? Last? Missouri is 11-2. They've had a very good nonconference. Has A&M had a very good nonconference? Has K-State had a good nonconference? They had a hiccup the other day (losing to Xavier), but they had a good nonconference," Self said, getting worked up.

"Has Oklahoma State had a good nonconference? Better than what we thought. Has Texas Tech been about what we thought? Has Baylor had a good nonconference? Has Nebraska been a ton better than what we thought? There have been a lot of pleasant surprises.

"You say Kansas hasn't been quite as good, and we're ninth in the country (in AP poll). Our league's winning percentage has been outstanding," he added of a 115-39 record.

"I'm not saying our league deserves to be ranked the top league in the country. I'm saying the fifth and sixth best teams in our league at the end of the season will be better than just about everybody's fifth place team in the other major conferences."

The Big 12's overall strength of schedule is 12th of 32 conferences.

KU's strength of schedule is a dismal 159 of 336 teams.

Texas Tech's is the league's best at 26 overall, followed by Oklahoma (31), Oklahoma State (79), Missouri (81), K-State (115), Nebraska (121), Colorado (141), Texas (146), KU (159), Texas A&M (178), Iowa State (211) and Baylor (303).

"Our strength of schedule is not very high now. I'm thinking, 'Hmmm,'" Self reflected. "Oral Roberts is picked to win the Mid-Con, Detroit picked third in the Horizon League, Northern Arizona picked to win the Big Sky, Rhode Island picked toward the bottom of the Atlantic-10, Toledo at the top of the MAC.

"You look at us," he continued, "and say, 'Southern Cal is very good. Boston College has struggled of late after they got hurt. They're very good. DePaul is a potential NCAA Tournament team. South Carolina is 10-2 now, and you have Florida, which is not bad.

"You should not have to apologize for that schedule at all."

He was asked why KU didn't play more powerhouse teams this preseason.

"We never have a ton of challenging games nonconference - two is probably the number," he said of road games. "There are obvious reasons for that, because of the budget."

Revenues at KU home basketball games help support all programs at KU.

"It's hard to give up that kind of money to go play a home-and-home with somebody," Self said.

At any rate, it's still early, and when all is said and done, the Big 12 could have four to six teams in the NCAAs. In fact, the Sagarin predictor ratings, which take into consideration things like margins of victory and weighs factors besides the RPIs Div. I winning percentage, strength of schedule and opponent's strength of schedule, has KU ranked 14th in the country.

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