Texas Leads Big 12 Race to the Finish

The Big 12 standings are shaping up to include a many solid teams but no teams that are heads and shoulders above the rest. In fact, seven of the ten teams can boast of a .500 or better winning percentage and five teams are just one back in the loss column of the Longhorns. Here is how the chase lays out for the contenders.

With just nine games left on their Big 12 schedule, the Texas Longhorns have to be feeling good about their chances to secure a conference championship and a top 8 national seed.

After Tuesday night's loss to the Rice Owls, Texas ranks eighth nationally in the BoydsWorld.com RPI. Earlier in the week, the ‘Horns were projected as the top national seed by SEBaseball.com's regional prjections, and it may not be much of a stretch given Texas' 10-4 record against top 50 RPI opponents.

But things can change in a hurry. Ten of Texas' final thirteen contests come against top 50 RPI teams in Kansas State, Texas State, Baylor and Texas A&M.

Texas' three remaining Big 12 opponents are still in the conference championship race, and one series loss could alter the picture drastically.

Despite the Longhorns' 3-5 start, the club has rolled off nine wins in ten league games and currently sit atop the Big 12 with a 12-6 record.

The 2009 campaign has been extremely competitive, with six of the league's ten teams still in contention for the conference title. But with 8-7 records, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Kansas are all on thin ice.

In all likelihood, the race will come down to the three in-state rivals -- Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor. Texas must play both the Aggies and Bears.

Texas A&M currently ranks second in the conference with an 11-7 record, and they face a struggling Oklahoma State club at home this weekend. However, the Aggies finish with Texas (one in College Station, two in Austin) and three at Oklahoma.

Although the Aggies have played better of late, they are just 3-7 on the road in Big 12 play and will have to improve on that mark if they want a shot at the title.

Baylor's ultra-talented pitching staff has been shaky all season, but their outstanding offense -- along with the unexpected contribution of Aaron Miller on the mound -- has kept them in the race.

The Bears get three at home with Oklahoma this weekend, three against Texas (one in Austin, two in Waco) and finish with a series in Lincoln, Nebraska. Despite being one-half game behind A&M in the standings, Baylor probably has a better shot at winning the conference due to their remaining schedule.

Eight of Kansas State's final 12 conference games are on the road, beginning with this weekend's trek to Austin. The Wildcats absolutely must win two-of-three against Texas to stay in the race.

Starter A.J. Morris has been one of the nation's best pitchers this season, going 9-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 10 starts. Morris gives K-State a great chance to take one game from the Longhorns, but the other two games will be tough, especially considering Texas' 21-3 record at Disch-Falk Field.

The Kansas Jayhawks have a pair of impressive series sweeps over Texas and Oklahoma State, but they are just 1-5 on the road in league play. After this weekend's three-game home set against Nebraska, KU hits the road for seven consecutive conference games against Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas State. While the Jayhawks will most likely stay afloat this weekend, it would be a shock if they are still in contention in two weeks.

The Longhorns are positioning themselves well for the stretch drive and postseason, but nothing is locked up just yet. With the conference race falling between three in-state rivals, these last few weekends of the regular season promise to provide top-notch drama.

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