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MBB: Big XII Power Rankings and Award Leaderboards (Dec. 6-12)

Bears

BU v Nova '21 | Twitter: @BaylorMBB

Until now, I have been posting scouting reports for Baylor's upcoming opponents (most recently for Villanova). It appears that another quality writer will be taking up that mantle and running with it and I'm no longer sure it's worth the hours spent preparing those reports if they are duplicative of the work being done by ODB's actual contributors. Still, I enjoy researching and writing about Baylor basketball and so I think I will try my hand at some different content starting with this piece. Baylor's next opponent will be the Oregon Ducks and I intend to do a scouting report for them because I have already begun working on it. That will be my final scouting report for the foreseeable future.

We are in the final month of the non-conference portion of the season. I'm hoping that doing a weekly recap of action around the conference will help us understand a couple things: 1. What type of competition should we expect to face once Big XII play starts and 2. how is the strength of the conference (which matters for seeding purposes in March) being strengthened or weakened by our conference mates' performances.

Big XII Record from Monday, December 6 through today: 12-3

Power Rankings:

1) #2 Baylor Bears (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 9-0. Weekly Record: 1-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 1. NCAA NET Rank: 2.

Of course, there's no other team that I wanted to put atop these initial power rankings. Still, the Bears deserve this spot. They've earned it with their exemplary play on both sides of the floor this year. Let me just say this about Baylor's BEATDOWN of a legitimately great Villanova team earlier today. That was one of the greatest defensive games ever. By any team. They thoroughly dismantled one of the nation's most efficient offenses. The scary part is that the margin of victory could have been even higher if the Bears had knocked down a higher percentage the open looks they were getting from three. If this team stays healthy, they are not only the best team in the Big XII, they are also the best team in America. They defend at a truly elite level and can score in a variety of ways. Look out for Adam Flagler who had a great second half against Villanova. If he gets hot, it will be hard for teams to even keep it close against Baylor, forget about trying to beat them.

2) #8 Kansas Jayhawks (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 8-1. Weekly Record: 2-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 3. NCAA NET Rank: 5.

Kansas was the preseason favorite to win the conference. It's hard to blame people for thinking that Kansas would be an elite team. They have elite talent and one of America's best coaches. The lone blemish on their record is an ugly one, a Quad 3 loss to Dayton. Of course, that was a buzzer beating loss and so I am not prone to overreacting to it. This week, they blew out UTEP and Missouri (average KenPom Rank of 141) by a combined 63 points. Their star guard Ochai Agbaji chose to come back this season and looks like one of the best scorers in the country, averaging over 22 PPG on 57% from the field and 45% on three-pointers. Additionally, Christian Braun is averaging nearly 17 PPG, 7 RPG, 3 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1 BPG on 63% from the field and 36% from deep. The scariest part about this Kansas team is that their center, David McCormack, hasn't really hit his stride yet. This team rightfully has Final Four aspirations this season and is the biggest threat to Baylor's pursuit of another Big XII championship.

3) West Virginia Mountaineers (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 9-1. Weekly Record: 2-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 45. NCAA NET Rank: 56.

West Virginia knocked off #15 UConn on Wednesday before routing Kent State earlier today. Their lone loss on the campaign came against Marquette which is not a bad team. As is typical of Bob Huggins coached teams, these Mountaineers defend at a high level and force a lot of turnovers (they rank 17th nationally in steals per possession). They have a dynamic backcourt with Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil who average a combined 33.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 2.4 SPG. Huggins has so far used a deep rotation with 10 different players averaging over 9 MPG. The weakness in this team is its undersized frontcourt of 2 6'7" forwards. The lack of size down low has caused problems for WVU in the rebounding department (they rank 330th nationally in defensive rebound percentage). This team is excellent already and if they can figure things out in the paint, they could be a serious challenger in the Big XII title race.

4) #17 Iowa State Cyclones (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 10-0. Weekly Record: 2-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 50. NCAA NET Rank: 17.

Iowa State went 2-22 last year and lost all of their top 5 scorers and brought in a new coach. As such, it made sense to just about everyone that the Cyclones would be picked to finish dead last this year in a loaded Big XII. New HC, TJ Otzelberger, had other ideas. His team, led by Penn State transfer, Izaiah Brockington, is undefeated with wins over Xavier, Memphis, Creighton, and Iowa (3 of those 4 wins coming by 12+ points). The most impressive thing about this team is the tenacity with which it defends. They rank 12th nationally in turnovers forced and are in the top 40 in both FG% defense and scoring defense. It remains unclear what the ceiling could be for this team, but for now, they have given us little reason to doubt them. Baylor's Big XII debut will be against this team on New Year's Day. The Cyclones will almost certainly be undefeated heading into that matchup (their only 3 remaining opponents this month have an average KenPom rank of 319).

5) #7 Texas Longhorns (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 6-2. Weekly Record: 0-1. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 16. NCAA NET Rank: 23.

Texas had all the hype in the world coming into the season (ranked #5 in the AP preseason poll). To be fair, the talent and depth on their roster looks incredible on paper and Chris Beard is an excellent coach. The results on the court thus far, however, have been disappointing for the Longhorns who have yet to defeat a team in the top 150 (based on KenPom rankings). Their 2 losses have come against good teams (Gonzaga and most recently, Seton Hall). This offense stagnates far too often for as many scorers as they have. This was on full display in their Thursday night loss to Seton Hall when they had a scoring drought of longer than 7 minutes coming down the stretch which cost them the game. The backcourt duo of Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey has been good offensively (they average a combined 19.8 PPG on 51% from the field and 41% on three-pointers). Complimenting those two is Utah transfer forward, Timmy Allen, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. This team is still figuring the chemistry out. If they reach their full potential, they could be a Final Four caliber team, but they do not appear to be particularly close to that level right now. They are also hoping to get Vanderbilt transfer big man, Dylan Disu (averaged 15 PPG and 9 RPG last year) back from injury in January which will help.

Bears

OU v Ark '21 | Twitter: @OU_MBBall

6) Oklahoma Sooners (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 8-2. Weekly Record: 1-1. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 36. NCAA NET Rank: 38.

Oklahoma lost head coach Lon Kruger, star guards De'Vion Harmon and Austin Reeves, and skilled big man Brady Manek from last year's team. Somehow, they look every bit as strong as that old squad which started last season 14-5 with wins over West Virginia (X2), Kansas, Texas, and Alabama. It's not outlandish to suggest that this group might even be better than the team from a year ago. They already boast wins over UCF, Florida, and most recently, a dominant 22-point win over previously undefeated Arkansas. Their only losses were against solid teams and were highly competitive (they led Utah State with less than 2 minutes in the game and had the lead against Butler with less than 2 minutes remaining in OT). The strength of this team comes from Eastern Washington transfer, Tanner Groves, a versatile big man who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and 3P%. Additionally, Elijah Harkless, emerged for the Sooners last year as a Mark Vital type glue guy who defended at a high level for a guard. This year, Harkless appears to a three-level scorer who can be leaned on in clutch situations. I could easily see this team finishing in the top 3 or 4 spots in the conference this year. The big question mark will be their late game decision making.

7) Texas Tech Red Raiders (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 7-1. Weekly Record: 1-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 14. NCAA NET Rank: 19.

Texas Tech's only game this week was their thrilling overtime upset of #13 Tennessee. This win was a great bounce back for Tech immediately after having lost their first game of the season to Providence. Thus far, the Red Raiders have played one of the weakest schedules in the country (ranked 353rd per KenPom). That makes their win over the Volunteers all the more impressive. In year one under new head coach, Mark Adams (who is weird as heck btw), Tech once again has a defense that looks elite, and the offense appears to have improved from last season's team. They feature a balanced attack whereby they have 5 players averaging more than 10 PPG, including their star backcourt of TJ Shannon and Kevin McCullar. This team will win some games against some of the programs near the top of this list and if they were in almost any other conference, they would probably be a threat to win such conference.

8) Texas Christian Horned Frogs (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 8-1. Weekly Record: 2-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 65. NCAA NET Rank: 63.

TCU came into this week with 6 unimpressive wins over mostly mediocre or worse schools and an embarrassing 19-point loss to Santa Clara. Then they knocked off 2 top 70 (per KenPom) teams within 4 days. The jury should still be out on TCU because they haven't played anyone who is close to as good as the teams at the top and even the middle of this conference. I do think TCU could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament hunt this season but to get there, they will need more out of their do-it-all star guard Mike Miles who, despite leading the team in scoring and assists, has struggled with his offensive efficiency (37% from the field and 29% from deep, compared to 41% and 36% last season respectively).

9) Oklahoma State Cowboys (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 6-3. Weekly Record: 0-0. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 43. NCAA NET Rank: 61.

Oklahoma State did not play a game this week. Their 3 losses on the season have all come against current top 60 teams (according to the NCAA's NET ratings). The loss earlier in the year to Oakland looks bad but the resume for this team isn't all that important considering they are ineligible for postseason play this season. They have no Quad 1 or Quad 2 wins yet. Still, they will be dangerous in Big XII play. They currently boast the 13th most efficient defense in the nation (per KenPom). They are still waiting for the shooting to come around from players like Bryce Thompson, Bryce Williams, and Rondel Walker (each of whom play 20+ minutes per game and are shooting a combined 39% from the field and 23% from beyond the arc). Kalib Boone has been a standout thus far (averaging over 27 points per 40 minutes). Avery Anderson III is the team's most dangerous scorer (a lightning quick guard who plays downhill). This squad has upside to finish in the top half of the conference but needs to improve dramatically if it wants to do anything more than play spoiler this season.

10) Kansas State Wildcats (Prev: NA). Overall Record: 6-3. Weekly Record: 1-1. Conference Record: 0-0. B12 Position: T-1. KenPom Rank: 72. NCAA NET Rank: 96.

Kansas State may be at the bottom of these rankings, but that is much more a statement of how strong the rest of the conference is than it is an indictment of KSU. The Wildcats have 5 unimpressive wins against bad teams, 3 losses to good teams (2 Q1 losses and 1 Q2 loss), and 1 moderately impressive (Q1) win. They lost 20 games last year in what Bruce Weber labeled as a rebuilding season. They were exceptionally young and finally started playing well near the end of the season. Expectations were that this team would be much improved this season. It remains to be seen if they can compete in the Big XII this year. They are led by a backcourt of Nijel Pack and Arkansas - Little Rock transfer, Markquis Nowell (who average a combined 27.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.6 APG, and 3.4 SPG on 46.3% from the field and 40.6% from deep).

TJ

TJ Otzelberger | 247sports

Coach of the Year Leaderboard:

1) TJ Otzelberger, Iowa State

2) Porter Moser, Oklahoma

3) Scott Drew, Baylor

4) Mark Adams, Texas Tech

Player of the Year Leaderboard:

1) Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

2) Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State

3) Taz Sherman, West Virginia

4) Mike Miles, TCU

Defensive Player of the Year Leaderboard:

1) Tyrese Hunter, Iowa State

2) Mattew Mayer (!), Baylor

3) Kalib Boone, Oklahoma State

4) Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua, Baylor

Sixth Man of the Year Leaderboard:

1) LJ Cryer, Baylor

2) Malik Curry, West Virginia

3) Kaosi Ezeagu, Kansas State

4) Jeremy Sochan, Baylor

Freshman of the Year Leaderboard:

1) Kendall Brown, Baylor

2) Tyrese Hunter, Iowa State

3) Jeremy Sochan, Baylor

4) Isaiah Cottrell, West Virginia

Newcomer of the Year Leaderboard:

1) Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State

2) James Akinjo, Baylor

3) Tanner Groves, Oklahoma

4) Timmy Allen, Texas

Bears

BU v Nova '21 | Twitter: @BaylorMBB

Upcoming Big XII Games Worth Monitoring:

a) Baylor @ Oregon; Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 9:00 PM CT on ESPN2

b) Gonzaga v Texas Tech; Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 12:00 PM CT on CBS

c) Oklahoma State v Houston; Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 6:00 PM CT on ESPNU

d) TCU @ Georgetown; Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 1:00 PM CT on FS1

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