Outside of Iowa State falling at Texas earlier in the week, everything went as it should have in the Big 12 this past week. There was no movement from last week’s power rankings to this week, but some teams have begun to solidify their position. Kansas continues to be in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title, but will play their two toughest remaining games this week. Meanwhile, Texas Tech continues to move further from the bubble after going 0-2 this week and Oklahoma will likely finish at the bottom of the conference after a key season-ending injury.
In other news, we began to get a clearer picture of where a few Big 12 teams stand for the NCAA Tournament after the committee revealed their top 16 seeds on Saturday.
As you can see, if the Tournament had started on Saturday, Kansas and Baylor both would have been 1-seeds and West Virginia would have been a 4-seed. All three teams are virtually locks at this point to make the NCAA Tournament, but be on the look out for a Big 12 Bubble Watch on Thursday to see where other teams stand. Now, let’s get to the rankings for this week.
#1: Kansas Jayhawks (22-3 Overall, 10-2 Big 12, AP: #3), Previous: #1
Last Week: Won @ Kansas State 74-71, Won @ Texas Tech 80-79
This Week: vs. #9 West Virginia (tonight), @ #4 Baylor (2/18)
It was a good week for the Jayhawks as they went 2-0 and were announced as currently a 1-seed in the eyes of the selection committee. They are still a game ahead of Baylor in the Big 12 standings and are in control of their own destiny with regards to winning their 13th straight Big 12 regular season title. After picking up two road wins this past week, they are essentially a lock for the NCAA Tournament and are still ranked #3 in the AP Top 25, but they can’t afford to take their foot off of the pedal. This week will either completely shake up the Big 12 race or pretty much lock it up for the Jayhawks as they take on both #9 West Virginia and #4 Baylor.
#2: Baylor Bears (22-3, 9-3, AP: #4), Previous: #2
Last Week: Won @ Oklahoma State 72-69, Won vs. TCU 70-52
This Week: @ Texas Tech (tonight), vs. #3 Kansas (2/18)
Kansas’ biggest competitor for the Big 12 title this season, Baylor, kept pace with the Jayhawks by going 2-0 this past week including a narrow victory over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys were the hottest team in the league going into that game, but the Bears somehow found a way. Baylor also had a good day Saturday, being named a current 1-seed in the bracket preview and handing TCU a non-win. However, this week will not be easy for the Bears. They first take on a Red Raiders team that is very competitive in Lubbock and desperate for a win and then host the Jayhawks Saturday in the most important game remaining in the Big 12.
#3: West Virginia Mountaineers (20-5, 8-4, AP: #9), Previous: #3
Last Week: Won @ Oklahoma 61-50, Won vs. Kansas State 85-66
This Week: @ #3 Kansas (tonight), vs. Texas Tech (2/18)
The Mountaineers, like the two teams above them, were able to go 2-0 this past week and are approaching lock status for the NCAA Tournament, if not there already. West Virginia was also named as one of the top 16 seeds in the current bracket preview that was released on Saturday and they will likely finish in that top group. The ‘Eers are two games behind Kansas in the standings, but have a chance to make things tight down the stretch if they can find a way to win in Lawrence tonight. Press Virginia already beat the Jayhawks in Morgantown earlier this season.
#4: Iowa State Cyclones (15-9, 7-5), Previous: #4
Last Week: Lost @ Texas 67-65, Won vs. Oklahoma 80-64
This Week: @ Kansas State (2/15), vs. TCU (2/18)
The Cyclones, after ending Kansas’ long home winning streak last Saturday, went into Austin and surprisingly fell to the Longhorns. It was the only upset this past week in Big 12 play, but Iowa State is still in a good spot for the NCAA Tournament. Despite their 15-9 record and their #55 RPI ranking, a look at their schedule shows they are better than their record. Among their losses are a 2-point loss to undefeated current #1 Gonzaga and a 1-point loss to current #18 Cincinnati. This week, the Cyclones will be looking to become locks for the NCAA Tournament by getting the sweep of Kansas State and avenging their loss in Fort Worth.
#5: Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-9, 5-7, AP: RV), Previous: #5
Last Week: Lost vs. #6 Baylor 72-69, Won vs. Texas 84-71
This Week: @ TCU (2/15), vs. Oklahoma (2/18)
Before falling to Baylor at home, Oklahoma State had been the hottest team in the Big 12 and had won five straight by an average of 13+ points. They started off conference play 0-6, but since then have worked their way up to a tie for 6th place and are currently on the good side of the bubble most likely thanks to a good non-conference schedule, including a 3rd place finish in the Maui Invitational. The Cowboys will be looking to continue their ascent in the standings with a pair of wins this week. Their matchup in Fort Worth will likely be close but they should be able to win comfortably at home against Oklahoma.
#6: TCU Horned Frogs (17-8, 6-6), Previous: #6
Last Week: Won vs. Texas Tech 62-61, Lost @ #6 Baylor 70-52
This Week: vs. Oklahoma State (2/15), @ Iowa State (2/18)
The game on Saturday wasn’t very good, but TCU did pick up a critical win by beating Texas Tech earlier in the week. It has been quite the year for the Frogs and they are enjoying their best season since joining the Big 12. Many people project that TCU would currently be in the field for the NCAA Tournament but they are by no means a lock. This week will be telling as the Frogs likely need to pick up at least one win this week. It will be important for TCU to protect their home court against the Cowboys, but the Frogs have also shown they can beat the Cyclones. A pair of wins would make fans feel much safer about their chances, whereas an 0-2 week would make the room for error down the stretch even tighter.
#7: Kansas State Wildcats (16-9, 5-7), Previous: #7
Last Week: Lost vs. #3 Kansas 74-71, Lost @ #13 West Virginia 85-66
This Week: vs. Iowa State (2/15), @ Texas (2/18)
Kansas State had a rough week, going 0-2 after having to face both Kansas and West Virginia. It dropped the Wildcats into a tie for 6th in the conference with Oklahoma State and may have an impact on their momentum as we near March. It will be crucial for K-State to find a way to pick up at least one win this week to remain in the bubble conversation. The Wildcats are already at a disadvantage having to make up for a poor non-conference slate, but they have shown they can compete with anyone. Wins at home against West Virginia and at Baylor have their RPI at #42, but they need to keep winning games if they want to make it in.
#8: Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-9, 4-8), Previous: #8
Last Week: Lost @ TCU 62-61, Lost vs. #3 Kansas 80-79
This Week: vs. #4 Baylor (tonight), @ #9 West Virginia (2/18)
Texas Tech is on the verge of falling out of the NCAA Tournament question. Despite being a good team, they needed to do very well in Big 12 play in order to overcome a poor non-conference schedule. They are currently ranked #99 in the RPI due to their weak schedule and are in desperate need of a boost. They had chances to win both games this past week, but ended up losing both by a point. Now, they have to face both #4 Baylor and #9 West Virginia this week and will need at least one win to keep their hopes alive. They have beaten the Mountaineers already this season, but stealing one in Morgantown will be no easy task.
#9: Texas Longhorns (10-15, 4-8), Previous: #9
Last Week: Won vs. Iowa State 67-65, Lost @ Oklahoma State 84-71
This Week: @ Oklahoma (2/14), vs. Kansas State (2/18)
Despite their win at home over the Cyclones, the chances of making anything beyond the Big 12 Tournament are looking pretty bleak for the Longhorns. At best, they can be 16-15 heading to Kansas City and needing a miracle run to win the Big 12 Tournament. However, with games against bubble teams like Kansas State and Texas Tech and match-ups against Kansas, Baylor, and West Virginia remaining, Texas could be an important team to keep an eye on down the stretch. They won’t be playing for much more than pride, but they could spoil the seasons of some teams.
#10: Oklahoma Sooners (8-16, 2-10), Previous: #10
Last Week: Lost vs. #13 West Virginia 61-50, Lost @ Iowa State 80-64
This Week: vs. Texas (2/14), @ Oklahoma State (2/18)
What a rough week it was for the Sooners, who will most likely finish at the bottom of the Big 12 this season after making the Final Four last season. They lost at home to West Virginia, who they had upset in Morgantown in January, earlier in the week and then fell at Iowa State on Saturday. To make matters worse, Jordan Woodard, a four-year starter for the Sooners, tore his ACL in the game Saturday, which effectively ends his college career. However, the absence of Woodard will allow Oklahoma to use some of their younger guys more and potentially set them up to be better next season.