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Big 12 Power Rankings: Kansas back on top

Seven weeks have gone by and the state of the Big 12 conference is still in limbo. Still no clear-cut favorite, last place teams beat first place teams, and chaos ensues each and every week.

Within all this craziness, there’s another new #1 on this week’s power rankings, upending Baylor’s short one-week stint at the “top” of the conference.

The Kansas Jayhawks, who return to this ranking’s #1 spot for 3rd time this season, had a 3-0 week and are seemingly back in form.

We’ll see if the curse of the #1 plagues the Jayhawks again this coming week.

#1 Kansas

Unfortunately, Kansas just has to be here after the week it had. The Jayhawks are 11-4, beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week, and then beat Baylor on Saturday.

Kansas has now split the season series with Baylor, and owns a win over Texas. The Jayhawks must be ranked over those two.

The Jayhawks then came into Schollmaier, and though the Frogs lost the contest more than Kansas won it, Kansas left with the satisfaction of a 63-58 win regardless.

The three-game losing streak suffered a few weeks ago is a distant memory. Kansas has won six of its last seven.

But - the curse of #1 could (superstitiously) hurt them, and the upcoming schedule doesn’t make it any easier. Kansas has two more ranked games on the road to finish its season, and the #1 seed at the Big 12 Tournament has yet to be clinched…

#2 Texas

Texas lost in Lubbock on Saturday, there’s no reason the Longhorns should be #1, but I also won’t drop them down a spot this week.

Yes - Texas should have beaten Texas Tech handily, even if the Longhorns were on the road, but Texas then turned around and beat Oklahoma at home in overtime, and beating Iowa State with ease on Tuesday keeps the Longhorns in a tie with Kansas for first place.

Texas also has a win over Baylor, and will finish its season series with the Bears this Saturday.

#3 Kansas State

After Tuesday night’s game against Baylor, in which Kansas State won 75-65, it’s clear that the Wildcats are the best of the Big 12’s “second-tier” teams.

The Wildcats have beaten every top team in this conference, and could very likely win the Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas State’s here simply because it’s beaten both Baylor and Iowa State, but it’s also just such a solid team. Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell are absolute beasts.

Head coach Jerome Tang has done a wonder of a job in Manhattan.

#4 Baylor

Before Tuesday night, I was almost ready to slot Baylor into the #2 spot here. Yet - Baylor lost by 10 to Kansas State on Tuesday during a game in which it only scored 65 points.

Losses to Kansas and Kansas State on the road may be equal to Texas’ road loss to unranked Texas Tech, but Texas owns the win over Baylor.

This is still a great team. The Bears were red-hot in the first half in Lawrence, taking a 17-point lead into halftime, before Kansas cooled them off and shattered morale.

The guard play of Adam Flagler, L.J. Cryer, and Keyonte George has continuously proven how valuable the three are to the team, and they’ll truly determine if the Bears can make another run deep into March.

#5 Iowa State

Iowa State went 1-2 since the writing of last week’s power rankings, so the Cyclones have to drop a little here. A win over TCU keeps the Cyclones from falling too far, as Iowa State handled the Frogs last Wednesday 70-59.

Iowa State lost 61-55 to Kansas State on Saturday, and then lost 72-54 to Texas in Austin on Tuesday.

It is worth to note, though, that Forward Caleb Grill missed both road losses, and Grill may be as valuable to the Cyclones as Mike Miles Jr. is for the Frogs.


#6 TCU

After going 1-2 this “week”, one of the losses including Iowa State in Ames, I can’t justify putting the Frogs any higher than #6.

But - the Iowa State loss will most likely be the worst we see the Frogs for the rest of the season. Mike Miles Jr. was out in Ames, but he was back in Schollmaier on Saturday in the Frogs 100-75 win over Oklahoma State. Despite the five-point loss to Kansas in Schollmaier on Tuesday, TCU is back to its normal self.

Mike is just that important to the team. TCU goes wherever he wants, and we all know this.

#7 Oklahoma State

Almost as soon as Oklahoma State rose, it just as soon fell. Three-straight losses, one at home by 11 to Kansas, has kept the Cowboys from proverbially clinching an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

On top of the loss to Kansas, Oklahoma State lost big to both TCU and West Virginia on the road. While head coach Mike Boynton claimed the 25-point loss to TCU was more an indication to the Frogs’ ability with Miles back, than it was of Oklahoma State’s struggles, the 85-67 loss to West Virginia didn’t prove his claims correct.

#8 Texas Tech

So who saw this coming? Things are getting interesting in Lubbock, as the Red Raiders have rallied off four-straight wins, beating Texas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma this week.

Texas Tech now owns three wins over AP Top 15 teams in the last three weeks (Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas). Fardaws Aimaq is back from injury, the whole team is playing through him, and it’s working. Jaylon Tyson is playing great basketball also. This team is pretty damn good right now.

But is it a little too late? If Texas Tech makes a deep run into the Big 12 Tournament, could it sneak an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament?

#9 West Virginia

An ugly loss at home to Texas Tech on Saturday is the main reason the Mountaineers are ranked this low.

Though Tech’s been better recently, that’s still a horrible loss, and could be a complete at-large bid killer.

According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, West Virginia’s still “on the bubble”, and recent history says seven wins in the Big 12 earns a team an invitation to the NCAA Tournament…

But can the Mountaineers get there? After beating Oklahoma State by 18 on Tuesday, West Virginia will need two of its next three. Only one is at home (Kansas State).

It’ll be interesting to watch.

#10 Oklahoma

Barring a couple of miracle wins against either Iowa State, Kansas State, or TCU (all ranked teams), Oklahoma will be the only Big 12 team to finish under .500 overall this season.

It could be multiple games below .500, too.

The Sooners barely lost to Texas in Austin, in overtime, in a valiant effort, but the loss to Texas Tech in Norman on Tuesday could completely dash the Sooners NIT hopes.

A .500 Oklahoma team would be a lock for an NIT invitation. I don’t think they get one.

This Week’s Rankings:

  1. Kansas
  2. Texas
  3. Kansas State
  4. Baylor
  5. Iowa State
  6. TCU
  7. Oklahoma State
  8. Texas Tech
  9. West Virginia
  10. Oklahoma