My friend Grant has a theory, and I think it’s a pretty good one:
Yearly reminder...if anyone is going to break KUs title streak, said team must remain undefeated at home. Only until KU loses conf at home are you back in it. Most years that never happens.— Grant Thome (@GTCat_EMAWdio) December 30, 2017
Eliminated from conference title contention after 1 game: OSU, ISU, Texas
Well, after round one, only Texas Tech held serve at home, meaning that four teams have an uphill climb with 17 games to play. That being said, I think this is as wide open as the conference has been in a decade, with every team capable of winning on any given day, and all ten looking like potential tourney teams. Judging by game one, it’s going to be a fun season.
#7 West Virginia 85, Oklahoma State 79
Oklahoma State was picked to finish dead last in the conference in the preseason rating, but they aren’t going to roll over for anybody this year. The Pokes can shoot it with anybody, and they gave a hard-charging WVU defense all they could handle. But Press Virginia will wear anybody down, and they did just that to the Cowboys Friday, forcing 21 turnovers and holding OSU to just 50% shooting from the floor. The Cowboys aren’t getting much from their bench, something that will have to change if they want to compete for a tourney spot, but their first five is solid and they should be able to hold serve at home against the bottom half of the Big 12.
Next Up: It’s Bedlam for the Pokes on Wednesday, followed by West Virginia hosting Trae Young and Oklahoma on Saturday. The Pokes will double dip with a date with Iowa State in Stillwater Saturday, as well.
#11 Kansas 92, Texas 86
This Texas team is very confusing, as they seem capable of playing with anyone, but don’t quite have the juice to get over the hump against good teams. Mo Bamba is impossibly long, which makes him a problem on both ends of the floor, but the Horns don’t have much of a bench and their guards tend to disappear for stretches. Texas couldn’t have shot the ball much worse against an average Jayhawk D, but were within striking distance until the final moments. Kansas, on the other hand, rode their star to a road win, as Devonte’ Graham had 23 points in 39 minutes, one of three players with at least 20 points and five with at least ten. KU once again has no real bench to speak of, but to be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ, and Kansas is 1-0.
Next Up: The Jayhawks face Texas Tech Tuesday and travels to TCU Saturday, two very interesting matchups. Texas travels to Waco for a Saturday matchup against the Bears.
#18 Baylor 53, #22 Texas Tech 77
Well, well, well... is there a more surprising team than the Red Raiders through one game of conference play? There certainly wasn’t a more surprising score than Tech’s dismantling of a top 20 Bears’ squad in Lubbock, as the Red Raiders jumped out to a big early lead that they never relinquished. It’s early, but there were plenty of question marks around this Baylor squad heading into conference play, and they certainly didn’t answer them in their first test. The Bears didn’t have a single player score more than 12 points and got just four from their bench; and while this is a very good defensive squad, those numbers are downright awful. Tech didn’t need much out of their first five, and the bench filled in nicely - they aren’t going to be a fun team to play in Lubbock this year.
Next Up: Baylor hosts TCU as both teams look for their first win of Big 12 play and Tech travels to Lawrence on Tuesday, followed by Baylor getting Texas at home and Tech hosting Kansas State Saturday.
Kansas State 91, Iowa State 75
It’s not easy to win in Hilton, but the Wildcats did just that - and in impressive fashion. This is probably the right time to catch the Cyclones, as their inexperienced group is still working on coming together as a unit. Junior Dean Wade dominated for the Cats, going off for 34 points, which is more than double his average, and Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown chipped in 20+ as well. For Iowa State, Lindell Wiggington had another impressive night but didn’t get much help, and the defense was pretty atrocious overall, but especially on the deep ball, where K State shot 50%.
Next Up: Both teams have tough ones on the road, as Kansas State heads to Lubbock while the Clones play in Stillwater, both on Saturday.
#12 Oklahoma 90, #10 TCU 89
Blah, blah, blah, Trae Young. Blah, blah, blah Big 12 Refs.
This was an entertaining, back and forth game, that saw both teams hold double digit leads at one point or another. OU jumped out in front 11-0 off the tip, only to see the Frogs claw back and take the lead at the half. TCU would extend their lead to double digits with ten to play, but then Trae Young an the Big 12 refs brought the Sooners back. Oklahoma is a problem, and they are going to be really tough to beat as long as Young is in the picture. TCU looked like the more complete team, but a bad final shot play cost them a chance to open league play with a big win at home over a ranked opponent.
Next Up: Both teams have rivalry weeks, as TCU heads to Baylor Tuesday for what almost feels like a must-win game, while OU tangles with the Cowboys in Bedlam Round One Wednesday in Norman. Both teams will come back to play league favorites on Saturday; TCU hosts Kansas while the Sooners head East to play WVU.