It’s that time of year again, the time when basketball nonconference is starting to reach its conclusion and teams begin looking towards conference play. Over the past few seasons, the Big 12 has proved itself to be one of the country’s elite, if not best, basketball conferences. This year seems no different, with what looks like arguably the best top to bottom conference in America.
First, let’s look at the records:
Kansas State 8-1
West Virginia 8-1
Oklahoma State 7-1
Texas Tech 7-1
Iowa State 5-2
Among the few losses that there are, the only really bad one that sticks out is Iowa State’s loss to Milwaukee. But the Cyclones have gone undefeated since, thanks in large part to Cameron Lard getting substantial playing time after that loss.
There are also plenty of impressive wins for the Big 12 with victories over teams like Kentucky, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Creighton, Oregon, Virginia, Nevada, VCU, and Butler to name a few.
Nearly every ranking metric shows the Big 12 is loaded from top to bottom this year as well. In the AP, Kansas, West Virginia, TCU, and Baylor are all top 25 with Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all receiving votes. The only Big 12 team not receiving AP votes is Iowa State, and anyone who knows Big 12 basketball knows it probably isn’t smart to count them as an “easy” team by any stretch of the imagination.
At the time of this writing, the Basketball Power Index (BPI) has EVERY Big 12 team within the top 60, with Kansas at #1, West Virginia at #11, TCU at #14, Texas Tech at #16, Baylor at #23, Texas at #36, Oklahoma at #39, Kansas State at #46, Iowa State at #52 and Oklahoma State at #54. KenPom rankings are similar with only Iowa State being outside the top 60 at #61.
All that to say, the Big 12 is going to be as strong as ever and conference play is going to be grueling on all teams. But that should also pay dividends, once again, when tournament selection time comes around as the vast majority of Big 12 teams will likely be in a good position to make the field.
Look, if Iowa State is the worst basketball team in the conference, there is no argument for which conference is the nation’s absolute best from top to bottom. This year it is definitively the Big 12.