It was a wild weekend in the Big 12 conference, as all three teams that were ranked in the AP poll last weekend fell at home on Saturday. The Jayhawks saw their 50+ home game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Cyclones; Baylor couldn’t finish their comeback and lost at home to Kansas State; West Virginia had multiple chances but fell to Oklahoma State - the hottest team in the Big 12 - in Morgantown. The crazy thing about it is that it really didn’t shake up the top of the conference.
Kansas is still in control of their own destiny thanks to their victory against Baylor earlier in the week. Six teams are ranked or receiving votes in the AP Top 25 and 8 teams are still ranked in the top 100 of the RPI. As a whole, the Big 12 still has a chance to get eight teams into the NCAA Tournament, but it will likely be six or seven that get in. So, despite all of the craziness, the conference still looks pretty similar to how it did a week ago. The only changes from last week’s power rankings came from teams that are currently near the tourney bubble.
#1: Kansas Jayhawks (20-3 Overall, 8-2 Big 12, AP: #3), Previous: #1
Last Week: Won vs. #2 Baylor 73-68, Lost vs. Iowa State 92-89
This Week: @ Kansas State (tonight), @ Texas Tech (2/11)
After an interesting week at home, Kansas will now head on the road to take on a couple Big 12 teams that will be gunning for a major win for their own respective resumes. The Jayhawks’ win over the Bears was crucial for their quest for a 13th-straight conference title, but they got lucky that Kansas State took down Baylor in Waco. They are still a lock to make the NCAA Tournament and still have a chance to be named a #1-seed, especially considering how much craziness there has been near the top. Kansas is currently #4 in the RPI, and they have a great chance to go 2-0 this week to keep their ranking up. Tonight’s game will be exciting considering how the game ended in Lawrence earlier this season.
#2: Baylor Bears (20-3, 7-3, AP: #6), Previous: #2
Last Week: Lost @ #3 Kansas 73-68, Lost vs. Kansas State 56-54
This Week: @ Oklahoma State (2/8), vs. TCU (2/11)
It was a rough week for the Bears against teams from the Sunflower State. First, they came up just short in Lawrence when both teams were tied atop the Big 12. Then, after Iowa State beat Kansas, the Bears could have tied it back up in the standings, but lost at home to the Wildcats. Despite the 0-2 week, Baylor is still sitting alone in 2nd in the conference, only one game back of the Jayhawks, and is ranked #1 in the RPI, which means they have a shot at a #1 seed, too. However, they have two extremely challenging games coming up this week against teams looking to lock up NCAA Tournament bids.
#3: West Virginia Mountaineers (18-5, 6-4, AP: #13), Previous: #3
Last Week: Won @ Iowa State 85-72, Lost vs. Oklahoma State 82-75
This Week: @ Oklahoma (2/8), vs. Kansas State (2/11)
West Virginia and Iowa State are tough to split, especially considering what happened on Saturday, but it’s tough to drop the ‘eers below the Cyclones after they won in Ames by 13 earlier in the week. Press Virginia has now lost at home to both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but the loss shouldn’t hurt them as badly. The Cowboys are the hottest team in the Big 12 and should be safely in the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday. West Virginia will be looking for revenge this week against two schools that have beat them already and I expect them to get it. However, the Mountaineers will need to start being more consistent as we head to March.
#4: Iowa State Cyclones (14-8, 6-4, AP: RV), Previous: #4
Last Week: Lost vs. #7 West Virginia 85-72, Won @ #3 Kansas 92-89
This Week: @ Texas (2/7), vs. Oklahoma (2/11)
As I mentioned, Iowa State could be #3 in the conference if they had beaten West Virginia at home, but alas they did not. However, going into Allen Fieldhouse and taking down Kansas is a nice way to bounce back and keep your ranking. The Cyclones were 18/34 from beyond the arc in their win over the Jayhawks, and it provided a huge RPI bump, moving them up to #43. Their ranking is lower due to losses, but anyone who looks at their resume should see that they’ll be in the tourney yet again. However, they need to keep winning to lock it up, and this week provides a great opportunity to pick up a pair of wins.
#5: Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-8, 4-6, AP: RV), Previous: #6
Last Week: Won @ Oklahoma 68-66, Won @ #7 West Virginia 82-75
This Week: vs. #6 Baylor (2/8), vs. Texas (2/11)
I’ll say it again, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the hottest team in the Big 12 right now and it’s not really close. They have finally begun to mesh all of their guard talent with Brad Underwood’s system and they have looked fantastic over the past couple weeks. The Cowboys are still trying to recover in the rankings from their 0-6 start in conference play, but they have won five in a row including their Big 12/SEC Challenge game. Their game on Wednesday will be telling about how high they can climb, but this is a team that is on a roll and should make it to the NCAA Tournament, especially with how their RPI ranking is back up to #29. Regardless, they should definitely pick up at least one win this week.
#6: TCU Horned Frogs (16-7, 5-5), Previous: #8
Last Week: Won @ Kansas State 86-80, Won vs. Texas 78-63
This Week: vs. Texas Tech (2/7), @ #6 Baylor (2/11)
TCU, joining the Cowboys as the only 2-0 teams this past week, needed a way to bounce back and they found it. They played well in both games and appeared to be shooting the ball much better than when they were on a 4-game skid. Their road win in Manhattan is the reason they have moved above them in the power rankings, but it was even more important in the eyes of the selection committee. The Frogs will be looking to continue with their momentum in order to take down the Red Raiders tomorrow before trying to take down the Bears in Waco. A 2-0 week would be fantastic, but a 1-1 week would also not be fatal in terms of their postseason resume.
#7: Kansas State Wildcats (16-7, 5-5, AP: RV), Previous: #5
Last Week: Lost vs. TCU 86-80, Won @ #2 Baylor 56-54
This Week: vs. #3 Kansas (tonight), @ #13 West Virginia (2/11)
After losing at home to the Frogs on Wednesday night, the Wildcats went down to Waco and shocked the Bears, barely holding on for the win. However, things do not get easier for K-State. They have to face a pair of ranked opponents this week, which could provide a chance for moving up, but could also be a chance to kill any momentum gained on Saturday. Tonight’s matchup with the #3 Jayhawks will carry some extra significance after the Wildcats were robbed earlier this year in Lawrence, but it will be difficult as Kansas will be looking to bounce back. Unfortunately, I think they are in for an 0-2 week, but their victory over Baylor should keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive and well.
#8: Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-7, 4-6), Previous: #7
Last Week: Lost @ Texas 62-58, Won vs. Oklahoma 77-69
This Week: @ TCU (2/7), vs. #3 Kansas (2/11)
Texas Tech really needed a win in Austin this past week for their NCAA Tournament hopes. The Red Raiders, trying to make up for a poor non-conference schedule, need to find ways to win some road wins in the Big 12, and not winning in Austin could come back to haunt them. Of the Big 12 teams with a legitimate chance of still making it, they have the lowest RPI ranking at #88. This week could be a disaster for them if they can’t find a way to get a win. They have to first come to Fort Worth to face a TCU team that is starting to heat back up and then have to take on #3 Kansas in Lubbock. I expect the Red Raiders to come up short in both games, moving them further from the bubble in the wrong direction.
#9: Texas Longhorns (9-14, 3-7), Previous: #9
Last Week: Won vs. Texas Tech 62-58, Lost @ TCU 78-63
This Week: vs. Iowa State (2/7), @ Oklahoma State (2/11)
The Longhorns are managing to stay out of last place here, but what a disappointing season it has been for Texas. There is so much talent on their roster with Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones, but off-the-court issues with Tevin Mack have hurt them. They have struggled on the road and that is what will most likely keep them out of the NCAA Tournament. That, and their #135 RPI ranking, their home losses to UT Arlington and Kent State, and their 9-14 record. If not for the likelihood that Allen and Jones could both potentially go pro, I’d say they were set up nicely for the future, but I’m not even sure they could take consolation in that.
#10: Oklahoma Sooners (8-14, 2-8), Previous: #10
Last Week: Lost vs. Oklahoma State 68-66, Lost @ Texas Tech 77-69
This Week: vs. #13 West Virginia (2/8), @ Iowa State (2/11)
Oklahoma joins Baylor in the 0-2 club for the past week after narrowly losing at home to the rival Cowboys and then falling in Lubbock. After their shocking win in Morgantown, it appeared that the Sooners had turned the page and were ready to compete with Jordan Woodard back, but since then they have lost 5 straight games. It is safe to say that they won’t be in the NCAA Tournament unless they make a miracle run at the Big 12 Tournament, but they could still have an impact on what Big 12 teams get into the dance. I don’t expect them to beat West Virginia again and they will probably lose their sixth and seventh-straight games this week.