As we inch closer and closer to the beginning of Big 12 men’s basketball conference play, it’s time to get an update on all the Big 12 teams and put out some power rankings. (Once conference play begins in earnest, the usual bi-weekly game previews will begin!) Below are quick updates on each team, followed by my power rankings as of this moment:
#1 Baylor Bears
Notable Losses: N/A
Bottom Line: Baylor has proven itself once again to be the top team not only in the Big 12, but in the country as of right now. We’ll see if they can keep that up through conference play in an absurdly deep Big 12. But Baylor should certainly be the favorite.
Next Game: @ Oregon 12/18
Notable Wins: #9 Memphis, #25 Xavier, Iowa, Creighton
Notable Losses: N/A
Bottom Line: Iowa State is absolutely one of, if not the most, improved teams in the country this year (Arizona is the only other team I think has an argument). The Cyclones have already beaten a bevy of quality teams thanks to their defensive effort. Their offense is a bit more sputtery, so we’ll see how they hold up in conference play, but this certainly looks like a team that could make a Big 12 and tournament run.
Next Game: SE Louisiana 12/19
Notable Wins: Michigan State, Iona, Missouri
Notable Losses: Dayton
Bottom Line: Kansas is one point away from also being undefeated this year. And while the Jayhawks have looked impressive, my biggest reservation is that their nonconference has been fairly weak. And they lost to a very average, 7-4 Dayton squad. The Jayhawks will certainly make a push for reclaiming the Big 12 title, but I need to see them tested more.
Next Game: Stephen F. Austin 12/18
Notable Wins: Wichita State
Notable Losses: #13 Arkansas, #14 Illinois, Marquette
Bottom Line: Kansas State has been firmly average in nonconference play. They’ve beaten the teams they should beat and lost to the teams they should probably lose to. That’s going to be a problem in the Big 12, when they’ll be picked against in most of their games.
Next Game: @ Nebraska 12/19
Notable Wins: #14 Florida, #12 Arkansas, UCF
Notable Losses: Utah State, Butler
Bottom Line: Oklahoma has had some impressive wins and mildly disappointing losses this season. Most recently, the Sooners routed then #12 Arkansas to win in impressive fashion. Oklahoma will likely be a tournament team, but will probably fall somewhere in the middle of the Big 12 pack.
Next Game: UT Arlington 12/19
Notable Wins: NC State
Notable Losses: Oakland, Wichita State, Xavier
Bottom Line: Oklahoma State is playing this season with a postseason ban, so there is much less enthusiasm and motivation surrounding the program. And that has shown, as they haven’t really beaten anyone of note, and lost to Oakland out of the Horizon League. Oklahoma State will likely be one of the Big 12 bottom feeders this year.
Next Games: Cleveland 12/13, #14 Houston 12/18
Notable Wins: Texas A&M, Utah
Notable Losses: Santa Clara
Bottom Line: TCU has faired pretty well in their nonconference slate, with their only blemish being a pretty bad, 19 point loss to Santa Clara. However, the Horned Frogs have not faced competition on par with the Big 12 yet, where they will likely have to fight to stay in the bottom-middle of the league.
Next Game: @ Georgetown 12/18
#17 Texas Longhorns
Notable Wins: I promise you, I tried my best to put my bias aside and find a notable win for the Longhorns. There isn’t one.
Notable Losses: #1 Gonzaga, #23 Seton Hall
Bottom Line: Texas was supposed to be one of the elite teams in the Big 12 this year. And they still might end up being a quality team in the league. But, they haven’t beaten a single team of note this year (seriously, their wins are Houston Baptist, Northern Colorado, San Jose State, California Baptist, Sam Houston State, and Rio Grande Valley). The only two games they played against quality teams, they lost. So it’s hard for me to say where the Longhorns will land without more data, but I would certainly be leaning toward middle of the pack as opposed to upper tier (as reflected in my power rankings below).
Next Games: Arkansas-Pine Bluff 12/14, Stanford 12/19
#25 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Notable Wins: #13 Tennessee
Notable Losses: Providence
Bottom Line: Texas Tech had been blowing out bad team after bad team until their last two games finally gave us something to work with: A 4 point loss to 10-1 Providence on the road and a 5 point win over then #13 Tennessee at home. So the Red Raiders certainly have the potential to win some big games (and they’ll probably drop a couple of games they shouldn’t). But this certainly ought to be a tournament team come March. We’ll learn a lot more this week.
Next Game: Arkansas State 12/14, #5 Gonzaga 12/18
Notable Wins: #15 UConn, Clemson
Notable Losses: Marquette
Bottom Line: West Virginia is another team that has beaten the teams they should, gotten a couple good wins, and lost one game against a pretty good Marquette. They should be yet another tournament team and battling it out in the middle of the Big 12.
Next Game: UAB 12/18
Big 12 Power Rankings:
- Baylor Bears
- Iowa State Cyclones
- Kansas Jayhawks
- Texas Tech Red Raiders
- Texas Longhorns
- West Virginia Mountaineers
- Oklahoma Sooners
- TCU Horned Frogs
- Kansas State Wildcats
- Oklahoma State Cowboys