After another fun week of Big 12 basketball, the rankings this week look fairly similar to last week’s rankings. A couple pairs of teams flipped spots, but for the most part, the pecking order in the conference seems to have been established as we enter the final week. Only one team has clinched their seed in the Big 12 Tournament and that is Kansas, who will be the 1-seed.
In terms of the NCAA Tournament, five of the teams in the conference will for sure be dancing, but that’s all we know for sure. It’s hard to believe that only 50% of one of the best conferences in college basketball might get in, but as of now that’s how it appears. I expect to see 6 teams find a way in, assuming that the winner of this week’s big matchup between Kansas State and TCU finds a way to go 2-0 this week. After all, this conference is pretty good at the whole basketball thing with 5 teams ranked or receiving votes in the AP Top 25 and 7 teams ranked in the top 70 of the RPI.
#1: Kansas Jayhawks (26-3 Overall, 14-2 Big 12, AP: #1), Previous: #1
Last Week: Won vs. TCU 87-68, Won @ Texas 77-67
This Week: vs. Oklahoma (tonight), @ Oklahoma State (3/4)
It was business as usual this week for the Jayhawks, who are guaranteed an outright Big 12 regular season title, which is their 13th-consecutive. Winning the title this year tied the record set by UCLA during the John Wooden years. Unless the Jayhawks somehow go on to lose both games this week and their first game of the Big 12 Tournament, they should end up being a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They have some off-the-court issues which could affect how deep they go in the postseason, but it is hard to bet against them with how well Frank Mason has been playing.
#2: West Virginia Mountaineers (23-6, 11-5, AP: #10), Previous: #2
Last Week: Won vs. Texas 77-62, Won @ TCU 61-60
This Week: @ #11 Baylor (tonight), vs. #24 Iowa State (3/3)
Press Virginia likely increased their seeding possibility for the NCAA Tournament with another 2-0 week and they are tied with Iowa State still for 2nd in the Big 12 standings. Their defense caused some major problems for both the Longhorns and the Frogs this past week, causing 36 turnovers over the 2 games. The Mountaineers can really move up this week in terms of seeding with a games against both #11 Baylor and #24 Iowa State. The game with the Cyclones will likely end up deciding who is the 2-seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
#3: Iowa State Cyclones (19-9, 11-5, AP: #24), Previous: #4
Last Week: Won @ Texas Tech 82-80, Won vs. #9 Baylor 72-69
This Week: vs. Oklahoma State (2/28), @ #10 West Virginia (3/3)
The Cyclones have been surging recently and are now winners of 5-straight after going 2-0 this week. If they weren’t a lock for the NCAA Tournament before, they sure are now after picking up wins in Lubbock and at home over the Bears. With the emergence of Solomon Young in the post, the Cyclones could be a team to keep an eye on in the postseason. They had been lacking a consistent post presence to go along with guards such as Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, and Naz Mitrou-Long, but Young has filled that void. This team could be built for a deep run.
#4: Baylor Bears (23-6, 10-6, AP: #11), Previous: #3
Last Week: Won vs. Oklahoma 60-54, Lost @ Iowa State 72-69
This Week: vs. #10 West Virginia (tonight), @ Texas (3/4)
Considering that the Bears were at one point #1 in the AP poll, things are definitely not going as well as they were. Since rising to the top spot, Baylor has gone only 8-6 and has lost 3 of their last 4 games. They have had chances to win each of those last four games, but have not been able to finish and their confidence appears to be a little shaken. It’ll be interesting to see how tonight’s game with against West Virginia goes, especially considering that the Mountaineers beat the Bears 89-68 in Morgantown. Baylor likely has dropped from the 1-seed line for good in terms of NCAA Tournament seeding, but more concerning for them is the inability to finish close games recently.
#5: Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-9, 9-7, AP: RV), Previous: #5
Last Week: Won @ Kansas State 80-68, Won vs. Texas Tech 80-63
This Week: @ #24 Iowa State (2/28), vs. #1 Kansas (3/4)
Over the past month or so, no Big 12 team has looked better than the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Since starting off conference play 0-6, the Pokes have gone 9-1 in Big 12 play, winning by an average of 10 points in those 9 victories. They are definitely a lock for the NCAA Tournament at this point and could be very dangerous. They are led by a fantastic coach in Brad Underwood who has NCAA Tournament experience as head coach from his time at Stephen F. Austin. On the court, the Cowboys are led by one of the best point guards in the nation in Jawun Evans and have a great balance of skill and athleticism. With a trip to Ames and a matchup against the Jayhawks this week, we’ll see if these guys are for real.
#6: TCU Horned Frogs (17-12, 6-10), Previous: #6
Last Week: Lost @ #3 Kansas 87-68, Lost vs. #12 West Virginia 61-60
This Week: vs. Kansas State (3/1), @ Oklahoma (3/4)
It was a rough week again for the Frogs, going 0-2 and bringing their losing streak to 5 games. Although neither loss this past week would be considered a bad loss in the eyes of the selection committee, the defeat at home against the Mountaineers by 1 on a questionable call hurts. Desmond Bane had a chance to win it but missed the potential game-winning buzzer-beater. Now, TCU enters a week in which going anything short of 2-0 will likely end the Frogs’ NCAA Tournament hopes. They beat K-State in Manhattan earlier in the season and will be looking for the sweep on Wednesday, but will then have to travel to Norman to face a scrappy, young Sooners squad.
#7: Kansas State Wildcats (17-12, 6-10), Previous: #7
Last Week: Lost vs. Oklahoma State 80-68, Lost @ Oklahoma 81-51
This Week: @ TCU (3/1), vs. Texas Tech (3/4)
The Wildcats, who are in a tougher bubble situation than TCU due to their poorer non-conference schedule, have to be hoping the selection committee was not watching their game on Saturday. Kansas State got absolutely manhandled by the Sooners in Norman in a game that they likely needed to win. Their games this week will likely decide seeding for teams 6-8 in the Big 12 Tournament and like TCU, anything short of 2-0 most likely ends their NCAA Tournament hopes. However, everything on the bubble is relative and you can never say never.
#8: Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-12, 5-11), Previous: #8
Last Week: Lost vs. Iowa State 82-80, Lost @ Oklahoma State 80-63
This Week: vs. Texas (3/1), @ Kansas State (3/4)
The Red Raiders’ NCAA Tournament hopes were already very slim coming into this week and now they are on life support as we enter the final week of Big 12 play. They have been very impressive at home in Lubbock, but have struggled when playing on the road. Tech has wins over #10 West Virginia and #11 Baylor at home, but missed out on chances against #1 Kansas and #24 Iowa State. With their poor non-conference schedule and lack of road victories, it’s tough to picture them making the NCAA Tournament, but they should be invited to the NIT.
#9: Oklahoma Sooners (10-18, 4-12), Previous: #10
Last Week: Lost @ #9 Baylor 60-54, Won vs. Kansas State 81-51
This Week: @ #1 Kansas (tonight), vs. TCU (3/4)
On paper, Oklahoma has absolutely no business being anywhere in these rankings but last place. However, this young team has really been impressive over the past couple weeks and has been competitive against some of the Big 12’s best teams. They may not be headed for the NCAA Tournament or even the NIT, but the Sooners have to be happy with the promise their youngsters have shown in the absence of Jordan Woodard. Oklahoma could be a dangerous team in years to come, especially with the arrival of 5* point guard Trae Young to pair in the backcourt with Kameron McGusty. After their 30-point blowout of Kansas State, TCU fans might have to be a little bit more worried about the trip to Norman this Saturday.
#10: Texas Longhorns (10-19, 4-12), Previous: #9
Last Week: Lost @ #12 West Virginia 77-62, Lost vs. #3 Kansas 77-67
This Week: @ Texas Tech (3/1), vs. #11 Baylor (3/4)
On paper, the Longhorns have no business being in last place in these rankings, but for some reason this team just has not been able to get it together this season, probably because they lack a true point guard. Unlike Oklahoma, the future also may not be that bright for Texas on the hardwood either. They too will welcome a 5* point guard into the fold next season, Matt Coleman, but they will likely lose both star freshmen Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones to the NBA in the offseason. It’s hard to imagine them winning either of their final two regular season games or anything in Kansas City, so their season should be done shortly. Shaka and his staff will sure have their work cut out for them this summer, assuming they stick around in Austin.