Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a harrowing, bleak tale of a father and a son in post-apocalyptic America who are traveling along an unnamed road, searching for security and evading cannibals and thieves along the way. It is depressing and heartwrenching, and at various points throughout the book you just want your intrepid heroes to find some sense of home. As the book progresses, you realize that it’s not the cannibals and the robbers who are the enemy of the father and son, but instead it’s the road itself that is their greatest foe.
This is all one big long extended allegory to say: nobody on the Big 12 can win on the dang road.
Kansas, Texas and TCU are all 1-5 this season away from home. Texas Tech is 2-3. Only Baylor and Iowa State have winning road records this season.
It’s a scary world out there.
Baylor (15-6, 6-2 Big 12): The Bears beat the pants off TCU Saturday behind Makai Mason’s 40 points. I had so many jokes lined up about Mason, but when a player drops 40 on your alma mater, there’s really not much you can say.
Baylor has a very forgiving schedule coming up, starting with a game at Texas on Wednesday before the Bears host Kansas State and Oklahoma. There’s a very real chance Baylor has a 1.5-game lead or so after this stretch of three games.
No. 17 Iowa State (18-5, 7-3 Big 12): Iowa State played West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma since the last edition of this column, and the Cyclones won all three games. ISU is riding a four-game win streak and has just two games in the next two weeks, including a matchup against TCU on Saturday.
I’m not really sure how Iowa State is ranked No. 17 while Baylor isn’t ranked at all, although it does bring me great joy. But the Cyclones are a good team, and if the Kansas stranglehold on the Big 12 is indeed to end this year, ISU has the experience and roster necessary to fill that power vacuum.
No. 13 Kansas (17-5, 6-3 Big 12): The suspension of Silvio de Sousa — dubious as it is — will no doubt hurt the Jayhawks. And this might not be a Kansas team that can afford such losses if it’s to win the Big 12 for the umpteenth year in a row.
The Jayhawks bounced back from a loss to Texas and beat Texas Tech on Saturday behind 25 points and 10 rebounds from Dedric Lawson. The good news is that Lawson has developed into the kind of player that can put up those gaudy numbers; the bad news is that Kansas might need him to do so nearly every night.
Kansas State (16-5, 6-2 Big 12): The Wildcats easily dispatched Oklahoma State Saturday and are tied with Baylor at the top of the Big 12 standings. Kansas State might have its biggest regular-season game in recent memory tonight, when it hosts Kansas.
The schedule is unforgiving coming up. After tonight, the Wildcats travel to Baylor and Texas in back-to-back games before hosting Iowa State. Skating through that four-game slate with a 2-2 record would be a very successful run.
Oklahoma (15-8, 3-7 Big 12): As recently as mid-January, Oklahoma was ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll. But the Sooners are on a three-game losing skid that included a loss to bottom feeders West Virginia, and they’ve got No. 18 Texas Tech coming up this weekend.
Oklahoma needs to turn it around, and fast.
Oklahoma State (9-12, 2-6 Big 12): Here are the Cowboys’ next eight games: at TCU, at Kansas, at home for Texas Tech, at Texas, home against TCU, at Kansas State, at Texas Tech, home for Kansas.
TCU: (15-6, 3-5 Big 12): It’s good practice, generally speaking, not to let your rival beat you by 26 and give up 40 points to one dude. The Horned Frogs fell flat against Baylor on Saturday, and TCU’s road woes seem to be only getting worse.
The good news is that Wednesday will allow the Frogs to reset against Oklahoma State before playing Iowa State on the road Saturday and Kansas at home next Monday. And winnable games against Oklahoma and a rematch on the road against OSU will follow. TCU needs to take advantage of those opportunities.
Texas (12-10, 4-5 Big 12): Texas beat Kansas last Tuesday (???). The Longhorns have also won a game against North Carolina, and lost games against Radford, Providence and Oklahoma State. They also hung with Iowa State until the bitter end Saturday. I will never understand this team.
Shaka Smart should probably be on the hot seat by now, although a game at West Virginia on Saturday could stop the bleeding for Texas. The Longhorns first have to get through Baylor at home Wednesday.
Texas Tech (18-5, 6-4 Big 12): Sure, Tech got dusted by Kansas on Saturday. But the Red Raiders took out their frustrations against West Virginia Monday, winning by 31 points.
I think this Tech team is much better than their Big 12 record indicates. Their losses this season have come against Duke and the top four teams in the Big 12 conference, and they’ve handled their business elsewhere. Games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State should pad the Red Raiders’ record before a crucial showdown at home against Baylor on Feb. 16.
West Virginia (10-13, 2-8 Big 12): The Mountaineers lost to Iowa State by 25 and Tech by 31 last week. They also beat Oklahoma by eight, for reasons not known to God or man.
West Virginia only has one game this week, a home contest against Texas on Saturday. Tickets can be had for $6, according to ESPN!