4 biggest Big XII games this week, and how they affect BYU

Some big games are coming this week, and BYU's standing could either rise or fall, depending on the results.

BYU will look to bounce back this week following a loss in Stillwater
BYU will look to bounce back this week following a loss in Stillwater / William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
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We're coming down the home stretch of the college basketball season, and BYU sits in 7th place at 6-6 in the Big XII. Each conference game will have ripple effects that resonate across the entire Big XII, and BYU is at a fork in the road. When your team is sitting at .500, the chances of rising are equal to the chances of falling, and BYU fans will need to keep track of other conference games to know what they can expect from the Cougars.

Losing a game in the Big XII can work to a team's benefit, though. When expectations are exceeded--even during a loss--that can improve the perception of a team, and help them rise, even when adding a tally to the loss column. When the School of Rock lost the battle of the bands to No Vacancy, that's what was supposed to happen. The startup band comprised of children didn't beat the legitimate band with higher aspirations. But when Dewey Finn and the 5th-grade brigade didn't hoist the trophy, no one dismissed them as loser wannabes; they were applauded and called for an encore because they still put their hearts into putting on a show on par with superior competition. When BYU loses to Houston, no one scolds them, and no one holds that loss against them--it was supposed to happen. Yet, BYU's reputation was bolstered by the loss, as they proved they could compete on the same level as the "big boys".

At this point in the season, teams are fighting for their spots in March Madness and conference tournaments, and the ensuing standings shuffle will have ramifications for the Cougs. What games in this week's Big XII schedule can help us learn more about the teams involved, and what they mean for BYU.