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Big 12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings: Horned Frogs rise the ranks

The Big 12 picture is becoming clearer. But several squads have yet to fully breakout.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 30 Texas Tech at TCU Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Only three squads won both their contests this past week; the Houston Cougars, TCU Horned Frogs, and Iowa State Cyclones. The Big 12 truly is the Wild West. Every team has now won a conference game and not one squad is an easy out. Without further ado, the first edition of the February Big 12 Power Rankings.

TIER 1: Big 12 Title Favorites

These three squads are beginning to distance themselves from the rest of the pack. While a team from “the contenders” may ascend, the squads in this tier are likely to remain leading the pack.

1. Houston Cougars (19-2; 6-2)

  • Previous Rank: 1
  • Last Week: W vs. KSU; W at UT
  • NET: 1; KenPom: 1
  • Next: Feb. 3 at. Kansas; Feb. 6 vs. OK State
  • The Cougars have dominated as of late, defeating the Kansas State Wildcats by 22, then the Texas Longhorns in Austin by four points. Houston’s stifling defense held the Wildcats to their second-lowest scoring total of the season. In that affair, Kansas State turned it over 18 times and shot just 40.4 percent from the floor. Although it went wire-to-wire against Texas, clutch free throws down the stretch sealed the deal.

2. Iowa State Cyclones (16-4; 5-2)

  • Previous Rank: 4
  • Last Week: W vs. KU
  • NET: 10; KenPom: 13
  • Next: Feb. 3 at Baylor; Feb. 6 at UT
  • The Cyclones are one on of the hottest teams in the Big 12. After a loss in Provo, Iowa State has rattled off three consecutive wins, and one was against TCU without star player, Tamin Lipsey. After defeating Kansas this past Saturday, the Cyclones have now defeated two top-10 opponents on the year.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (17-4; 5-3)

  • Previous Rank: 2
  • Last Week: L at ISU; W vs. OK State
  • NET: 13; KenPom: 15
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. Houston; Feb. 5 at KSU
  • If one thing is for sure, the Jayhawks have the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ number, besides that, every other game has been too close for comfort for Kansas. The Jayhawks have a loaded starting five, but the depth will be a problem come tournament time.

TIER 2: The Contenders

All of the following squads are ranked in the AP Poll. This tier tends to be the most volatile as these teams can defeat the title contenders, but can also succumb to schools in the latter tiers.

4. TCU Horned Frogs (16-5; 5-3)

  • Previous Rank: 10
  • Last Week: W at Baylor; W vs. TTU
  • NET: 30; KenPom: 22
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. UT
  • The Horned Frogs are perhaps the most volatile team in the Big 12. TCU has three close losses, sandwiched between five tremendous victories, four of which are against ranked squads. The tenacity and athleticism are on display every outing as the Horned Frogs continue to lead all of college basketball in fast break points per game at 21.05, three more than the second-best squad.

5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-4; 5-2)

  • Previous Rank: 5
  • Last Week: W at OU, L at TCU
  • NET: 29; KenPom: 27
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. Cincy; Feb. 6 at Baylor
  • The Red Raiders played two tough road games in a row. Texas Tech railed to defeat the Sooners on Saturday, before falling to TCU on Tuesday. Texas Tech is well-versed on the offensive end of the floor, with multiple high-volume guard scorers and bigs who score opportunistically. Shout to reserve guard Chance McMillian, he’s knocked down 11-of-17 3-pointers in his last two games. Alongside Pop Isaacs and Joe Touissant, the Red Raiders are loaded in the backcourt.

6. Baylor Bears (15-5; 4-3)

  • Previous Rank: 3
  • Last Week: L vs. TCU; W at UCF
  • NET: 16; KenPom: 16
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. ISU; Feb. 6 vs. TTU
  • Baylor played three overtime contests in just the month of January! The team runs seven-deep, with numerous versatile players, ranging from sharpshooting guards to athletic wings and physical bigs, Baylor has it all. Unfortunately for the Bears, the next four games are against opponents ranked 23 or better. There’s never a time to take your foot off the pedal but now’s especially not the time.

7. BYU Cougars (15-5; 3-4)

  • Previous Rank: 7
  • Last Week: W vs. UT
  • NET: 6; KenPom: 9
  • Next: Feb. 3 at WVU; Feb. 6 at OU
  • The Cougars could likely be ranked higher, as they’re well-received in both the NET and the KenPom rankings. However, BYU has gone through a bit of a rough patch as of late, losing two of the last four. The Cougars are a likely bounce-back candidate as four of their next five contests are against unranked squads, something unheard of in Big 12 play.

8. Oklahoma Sooners (16-5; 4-4)

  • Previous Rank: 6
  • Last Week: L vs. TTU; W at KSU
  • NET: 27; KenPom: 21
  • Next: Feb. 3 at UCF; Feb. 6 vs. BYU
  • Speaking of rough patches, the Sooners ended a brief two-game losing streak with a statement win over the Wildcats. Oklahoma pulled off a dominant defensive effort in the win. The Sooners allowed Kansas State to shoot a paltry 30.2 percent from the floor and 14.3 percent from downtown.

TIER 3: On The Bubble

It’s looking less likely that these big-name squads make a postseason tournament appearance. Although the talent is there, both teams must record multiple marquee wins down the stretch.

9. Texas Longhorns (14-7; 3-5)

  • Previous Rank: 9
  • Last Week: L at BYU; L vs. Houston
  • NET: 39; KenPom: 35
  • Next: Feb. 3 at TCU; Feb. 6 vs. ISU
  • This team is trending downward. The roster is quite talented, but the Longhorns just don’t have it. Texas has two big-time wins, against rival Oklahoma and Baylor. But, the Longhorns have suffered ugly defeats at the hands of the Mountaineers and Golden Knights. This upcoming week will be a make or break for Texas. Games against two ranked squads, TCU and Iowa State, will decipher whether the Longhorns are true contenders in the Big 12.

10. Kansas State Wildcats (14-7; 4-4)

  • Previous Rank: 8
  • Last Week: L at Houston; L vs. OU
  • NET: 83; KenPom: 74
  • Next: Feb. 3 at OK State; Feb. 5 vs. KU
  • The Wildcats are free-falling. The offense has especially been putrid in recent affairs. Combing to score 105 points in the past two games, the Wildcats haven’t moved the ball well enough to get open looks. Additionally, Kansas State has had just two double-digit scorers in the past two games.

TIER 3: DANGER ZONE

Similar to the tier above, but also different in the fact that these schools are less-heralded. Both teams have a few big wins.

11. Cincinnati Bearcats (14-7; 3-5)

  • Previous Rank: 12
  • Last Week: W vs. UCF; L at WVU
  • NET: 35; KenPom: 34
  • Next: Feb. 3 at TTU
  • Cincinnati has defeated two, top 20 squads, BYU and TCU. However, in the Bearcats five losses, none of which have come by a margin of more than five points. Cincinnati is so close to becoming a middling/top-third squad in the conference. If a few of those losses were to end in a different result, the Bearcats would likely be a tournament-lock.

12. UCF Golden Knights (12-8; 3-5)

  • Previous Rank: 11
  • Last Week: L at Cincy; L vs. Baylor
  • NET: 75; KenPom: 76
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. OU
  • The Golden Knights are propped up by one enormous win: Kansas. The rest of their Big 12 contests haven’t gone according to plan. And most recently, the Golden Knights have looked even more outmatched. Against Baylor, UCF shot above 50 percent from the field and the 3-point. Oddly enough, the Golden Knights lost, in part to the entire team attempting just seven free throws. And to make matters worse, UCF only made one of seven attempts. The lack of free throw attempts is alarming, especially since the Golden Knights made 25 or more two games in a row before the outing against Cincinnati.

TIER 4: DUMPSTER

These two teams are likely to be joined by others soon. Neither have eclipsed double-digit wins, but both have won at least one conference game.

13. West Virginia Mountaineers (8-13; 3-5)

  • Previous Rank: 13
  • Last Week: L at OK State; W vs. Cincy
  • NET: 145; KenPom: 131
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. BYU
  • The Mountaineers are coming off a win! West Virginia defeated the Bearcats by four points after a back-and-forth affair. The Mountaineers trailed in this one, coming back from seven points down at the half. West Virginia’s defense showed out, allowing 65 points, four less than their season average of points allowed.

14. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-12; 1-7)

  • Previous Rank: 14
  • Last Week: W vs. WVU; L at KU
  • NET: 146; KenPom: 124
  • Next: Feb. 3 vs. KSU; Feb. 6 at Houston
  • After six straight losses to begin conference play, the Cowboys defeated the other “dumpster” team by four points. The Cowboys won the game by drawing fouls and getting to the line. Additionally, Oklahoma State converted 20-of-26 freebies. The high conversion rate is noteworthy since the Cowboys are the worst free-throw-shooting team in the Big 12. Following their big win, the Cowboys were destroyed by the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence.