After an interesting week in the Big 12 filled with games between teams at the top, the race has become much tighter in certain spots of the power rankings. There was only one change near the top from last week’s power rankings, but the race for 2nd and the race between 6th-8th has become even tighter.
As we approach Selection Sunday, it is evident that five really good teams from the Big 12 will most likely get in and three others will be hanging out near the bubble, hoping to hear their name called. It has been another solid year for the conference, as five teams are currently ranked or receiving votes in the AP Top 25 and eight teams are still ranked in the top 90 of the RPI. Now, let’s see where they stand in the conference power rankings.
#1: Kansas Jayhawks (24-3 Overall, 12-2 Big 12, AP: #3), Previous: #1
Last Week: Won vs. #9 West Virginia 84-80, Won @ #4 Baylor 67-65
This Week: vs. TCU (2/22), @ Texas (2/25)
The Jayhawks managed to navigate their toughest week yet to date and went 2-0, which puts them three games ahead of Baylor, West Virginia, and Iowa State, who are all tied for 2nd in the Big 12. They also moved up and are #1 in the RPI now and can clinch their 13th-straight Big 12 regular season title with a victory over TCU on Wednesday night. Assuming Kansas continues to play at this high level behind fantastic play from Frank Mason, the Jayhawks should be rolling into Selection Sunday as a favorite to be given a 1-seed. Any slip ups may drop them to a 2-seed, but considering they don’t face Baylor, West Virginia, or Iowa State again until the Big 12 Tournament, they should be fine.
#2: West Virginia Mountaineers (21-6, 9-5, AP: #12), Previous: #3
Last Week: Lost @ #3 Kansas 84-80, Won vs. Texas Tech 83-74
This Week: vs. Texas (tonight), @ TCU (2/25)
Despite blowing a lead at Kansas earlier in the week, West Virginia moved up to #2 thanks to Baylor going through a rough week. These teams are so tough to split, but the advantage currently goes to the Mountaineers, who dominated the Bears earlier this season in Morgantown. They are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament yet again and Press Virginia will be looking at a 4-seed or better most likely. They are currently tied for 2nd in the Big 12 and will face both Baylor and Iowa State in the closing week. However, this week they must take care of business at home against Texas before traveling to Fort Worth.
#3: Baylor Bears (22-5, 9-5, AP: #9), Previous: #2
Last Week: Lost @ Texas Tech 84-78, Lost vs. #3 Kansas 67-65
This Week: vs. Oklahoma (2/21), @ Iowa State (2/25)
It was a tough week for Baylor, going 0-2 in games that they could have won. In both games, they blew 2nd half leads, but the game against Kansas had to hurt more since they were at home and up by six with three and a half minutes to go. Their tumble essentially locked up the Big 12 title for Kansas and dropped the Bears to #3 in the RPI. They are still a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but their chances of being a 1-seed have slipped a little. They should roll through the Sooners at home tomorrow, but with games remaining at Iowa State and at home against West Virginia, the Bears could finish as low as 4th in the conference.
#4: Iowa State Cyclones (17-9, 9-5, AP: RV), Previous: #4
Last Week: Won @ Kansas State 87-79, Won vs. TCU 84-71
This Week: @ Texas Tech (tonight), vs. #9 Baylor (2/25)
The Cyclones had a great week, going 2-0 and moving up into a tie for 2nd in the Big 12 standings with West Virginia and Baylor. Their road win over the Wildcats and home victory over TCU should be enough to make them feel comfortable about their NCAA Tournament chances; they would be a lock if they were to go 2-0 this week. Iowa State could be a dangerous team down the stretch due to the experience and leadership provided by Monte Morris and Deonte Burton. As a team, they shoot the ball well and are starting to catch fire at the right time.
#5: Oklahoma State Cowboys (18-9, 7-7, AP: RV), Previous: #5
Last Week: Won @ TCU 71-68, Won vs. Oklahoma 96-92
This Week: @ Kansas State (2/22), vs. Texas Tech (2/25)
Oklahoma State continues to find a way and they too had a 2-0 week by beating TCU in Fort Worth and Oklahoma at home. In both games, the Cowboys trailed late but kept their composure and made plays down the stretch. Brad Underwood has done a phenomenal job turning this team around mid-season and could have them causing problems in the NCAA Tournament. They aren’t necessarily a lock yet to make it, but if they go 2-0 again this week, which they definitely can do, then they will be a lock. It will be hard to pick against them as long as Jawun Evans keeps playing as well as he has been.
#6: TCU Horned Frogs (17-10, 6-8), Previous: #6
Last Week: Lost vs. Oklahoma State 71-68, Lost @ Iowa State 84-71
This Week: @ #3 Kansas (2/22), vs. #12 West Virginia (2/25)
TCU’s hopes of getting into the NCAA Tournament took some more hits again this week as they let a critical game at home slip away against Oklahoma State and then struggled to come back in Ames. The schedule is not friendly for the Frogs, who now have to turn around and travel to Lawrence to play a #3 Kansas team looking to clinch the regular season title. After that, they welcome #12 West Virginia to Fort Worth in a game that could be their last real chance for a signature win before the Big 12 Tournament. TCU’s RPI fell to #58 after going 0-2 last week, but they could still get in if they find a way to win at least three more games down the stretch. Getting one this week would be worth much more, though.
#7: Kansas State Wildcats (17-10, 6-8), Previous: #7
Last Week: Lost vs. Iowa State 87-79, Won @ Texas 64-61
This Week: vs. Oklahoma State (2/22), @ Oklahoma (2/25)
Kansas State is tied with TCU for 6th in the Big 12 standings currently and both teams are very tough to split, but the Frogs take the current advantage due to their win in Manhattan. The Wildcats are one spot ahead of TCU in the RPI at #57, but that could change if K-State slips up or if the Frogs steal one this week. Both teams will meet in Fort Worth next week and the 6th seed in the Big 12 Tournament could be on the line, and more importantly NCAA Tournament bubble positioning. The schedule sets up nicely for the Wildcats down the stretch as they do not have to face any of the teams in the top four of these rankings.
#8: Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-10, 5-9), Previous: #8
Last Week: Won vs. #4 Baylor 84-78, Lost @ #9 West Virginia 83-74
This Week: vs. Iowa State (tonight), @ Oklahoma State (2/25)
Just when you think the Red Raiders’ hopes of making the NCAA Tournament are done, they go out and find a way to beat Baylor and then take West Virginia to 2 OTs in Morgantown before losing. Keenan Evans had a monster week for Tech, averaging 25.5 points per game. It’ll be tough for them to get in while being ranked #90 in the RPI, but they could move up with games remaining against Texas and Kansas State. Before facing those two though, they have to take on two of the hottest teams in the Big 12 this week. However, the Red Raiders have been tough to beat in Lubbock and could find a way to add another big win to their resume if they can beat Iowa State tonight.
#9: Texas Longhorns (10-17, 4-10), Previous: #9
Last Week: Lost @ Oklahoma 70-66, Lost vs. Kansas State 64-61
This Week: @ #12 West Virginia (tonight), vs. #3 Kansas (2/25)
Now we approach the two teams that have struggled to turn talent into wins this season. The Longhorns had a chance to go 2-0 this week but let games against the Sooners and Wildcats slip away in the closing minutes. This week could be ugly for Texas, as they do the flip of TCU’s schedule and face #12 West Virginia tonight before welcoming #3 Kansas to Austin on Saturday. It’s difficult to see them winning any more games before the Big 12 Tournament, because after this week they have to travel to Lubbock and play host to Baylor still. However, the Longhorns do have talent and could potentially throw a wrench in the race for 2nd in the Big 12 if they upset either the Mountaineers or Bears. They could also ruin Tech’s remaining hopes if they find a way to win in Lubbock next week.
#10: Oklahoma Sooners (9-17, 3-11), Previous: #10
Last Week: Won vs. Texas 70-66, Lost @ Oklahoma State 96-92
This Week: @ #9 Baylor (2/21), vs. Kansas State (2/25)
The Sooners managed to find a win over the Longhorns earlier in the week, but their biggest win came on the recruiting trail as they managed to land a 5* point guard over Kansas and Oklahoma State. The future looks bright for Oklahoma, but not the rest of the season. However, like the Longhorns, they could still have an impact on how things shake out in the Big 12 down the stretch. They still have to travel to Waco and Lawrence, both of which will probably be ugly, without their best player, Jordan Woodard, who is out for the season. They could play a big role on the bubble picture though, as both TCU and Kansas State still have to travel to Norman.