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NCAA Basketball: Northwestern State at Baylor

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Big 12 MBB Week 4 Recap and Power Rankings

Who Let These Cougars in our Conference?

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

You can find last week’s post here.

Week 4 Power Rankings

Rank Team Prev. Rank KenPom Rank Overall Record Avg. Scoring Margin
Rank Team Prev. Rank KenPom Rank Overall Record Avg. Scoring Margin
1 #6 Baylor 1 6 8-0 24.3
2 #2 Kansas 2 10 7-1 15.0
3 #3 Houston 3 1 8-0 24.6
4 #28 TCU 4 33 7-0 25.6
5 #14 BYU 7 8 7-0 31.7
6 #19 Oklahoma 6 25 7-0 23.8
7 #12 Texas 5 30 6-1 15.4
8 #34 Cincinnati 10 29 7-0 22.3
9 Iowa State 8 23 6-2 24.0
10 Texas Tech 9 52 5-2 6.3
11 Kansas State 11 53 6-2 8.5
12 UCF 12 80 5-2 7.5
13 Oklahoma State 13 98 3-4 6.7
14 West Virginia 14 111 3-4 -0.5
Dates Covered: 11/27 - 12/3

Overview:

Home Teams went 12-2

Ranked Teams went 7-0 against lower-ranked or unranked opponents

8 of 19 games were decided by 6 or fewer points or in overtime

My Team of the Week: Kansas Jayhawks – 2-0 on the week with a massive win over the defending national champs

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

My Player of the Week: Emanuel Miller (TCU) – 48 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 61% from the field across the team’s 2 wins

1. Baylor Bears

Game 1: BU defeated Nicholls State 108-70. Telling Stat: The Bears outscored the Colonels by 18 points from beyond the arc. Standout Player: Langston Love (23 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist on 5/7 [71%] from deep off the bench).

Game 2: BU defeated Northwestern State 91-40. Telling Stat: The Bears outscored the Demons 32-6 off turnovers. Standout Player: Yves Missi (13 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks on 4/5 [80%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Bears are 3rd in the nation in scoring per game.

Outlook: Baylor currently enjoys the nation’s longest active winning streak at games (joined by several other teams including Houston). They have hit the ground running and have shown that they can win in multiple ways. They can win without making a single three-pointer or by having a majority of their shots come from deep. They can bludgeon you with a longer and more physical defense than we’ve seen the past couple of seasons or can win shootouts behind a highly efficient and balanced offense. They can win close games or they can blow teams away. As long as the loss column remains unblemished, the Bears will remain the team to beat in the Big 12.

2. Kansas Jayhawks

Game 1: KU defeated Eastern Illinois 71-63. Telling Stat: The Jayhawks assisted on 24/28 (86%) made field goals. Standout Player: Hunter Dickinson (25 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks on 11/15 [73%] from the field).

Game 2: KU defeated UConn 69-65. Telling Stat: The Jayhawks outscored the Huskies by 14 points on two-pointers in the 1st half. Standout Player: Kevin McCullar, Jr. (21 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal on 6/10 [60%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Jayhawks are 2nd among Big 12 teams in FG% defense.

Outlook: The Jayhawks had an underwhelming win against a dreadful Eastern Illinois team before battling and beating a Top 10 UConn squad. To me, the jury is still somewhat out on KU. When they are “on” they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the nation. However, some weaknesses have certainly shown themselves in the first month of the season.

3. Houston Cougars

Game 1: UH defeated Xavier 66-60. Telling Stat: The Cougars outscored the Musketeers by 12 points on second-chance opportunities. Standout Player: LJ Cryer (23 points and 4 rebounds on 5/12 [42%] from deep).

Stat to Know: The Cougars lead the nation in scoring defense.

Outlook: The Cougars are exactly where they wanted to be at this point in the season, undefeated behind arguably the best defense in the nation and a significantly above-average offense. This is a team that does all of the little things well. KenPom gives the Cougars a 70% or better win probability in every game between now and their late-January trip to play a similarly hot BYU team.

4. TCU Horned Frogs

Game 1: TCU defeated Houston Christian 101-64. Telling Stat: The Horned Frogs outscored the Huskies 34-6 in points off turnovers. Standout Player: Jameer Nelson (15 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block on 5/9 [56%] from the field).

Game 2: TCU defeated Georgetown 84-83. Telling Stat: The Frogs outscored the Hoyas by 24 points in the paint. Standout Player: Emanuel Miller (29 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 12/18 [67%] from the field).

Stat to Know: Nearly 44% of TCU’s shots come at the rim (per cbbanalytics.com).

Outlook: TCU still hasn’t played anyone with a pulse. They had to hold on for dear life against a Georgetown team that gave Holy Cross 1 of their 2 wins of the season. The good news for TCU is that their defense is continuing to create turnovers leading to easy buckets in transition. As they start facing opponents who actually practice some modicum of ball security, we’ll see if TCU’s offensive efficiency takes a dive.

5. BYU Cougars

Game 1: BYU defeated Fresno State 85-56. Telling Stat: The Cougars outscored the Bulldogs by 29 points off turnovers. Standout Player: Spencer Johnson (22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals on 9/12 [75%] from the field).

Stat to Know: BYU is 8th in the nation in defensive rebounding.

Outlook: The Cougars’ hot start has continued thanks to their blistering 3P shooting and tough rebounding. BYU has struggled to get to the FT line so far. Other than that, they look very solid on both ends of the court.

6. Oklahoma Sooners

Game 1: OU defeated Arkansas Pine Bluff 107-86. Telling Stat: The Sooners outscored the Lions by 24 points in the paint. Standout Player: John Hugley IV (15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 6/10 [60%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Sooners are 9th nationally in team FG%.

Outlook: It was a carefree week for the Sooners. They’ll take on a pair of power conference opponents this week with a chance to solidify their case to be considered among the many contenders in the Big 12.

7. Texas Longhorns

Game 1: UT defeated Texas State 77-58. Telling Stat: The Horns outscored the Bobcats by 11 points off turnovers. Standout Player: Max Abmas (26 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal on 9/18 [50%] from the field).

NCAA Basketball: Texas State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Stat to Know: The Longhorns are 1 of just 3 Big 12 teams to have allowed more than 100 free-throws on the season.

Outlook: The Longhorns still don’t have a particularly impressive win on the season. They have struggled to get to the free-throw line and send their opponents there far too often. Further, their rebounding leaves a lot to be desired and their adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom) is the lowest it’s been in 10 years. Texas has been, to this point, underwhelming.

8. Cincinnati Bearcats

Game 1: Cincy defeated Howard in overtime 86-81. Telling Stat: The Bearcats outscored the Bison by 18 points off second-chance opportunities. Standout Player: Viktor Lakhin (19 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks on 8/14 [57%] from the field).

Game 2: Cincy defeated Florida Gulf Coast 99-62. Telling Stat: The Bearcats outscored the Eagles by 18 points from beyond the arc. Standout Player: Viktor Lakhin (19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block on 8/10 [80%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Bearcats are 2nd among Big 12 teams in rebounding margin.

Outlook: Much like the Horned Frogs, Cincinnati is yet to face a quality opponent on the season. They’ve won every game and have looked rather balanced in doing so. Their first test of the season will come this week when they face Xavier (4-4). The jury is still very much out on the legitimacy of the Bearcats’ undefeated record.

9. Iowa State Cyclones

Game 1: ISU defeated DePaul 99-80. Telling Stat: The Cyclones outscored the Demons by 28 points in the paint. Standout Player: Keshon Gilbert (21 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals on 8/14 [57%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Cyclones are 3rd among Big 12 teams in FG% defense.

Outlook: Iowa State got the bounce-back win and shooting performance it needed after losing back-to-back games during feast week. Now, the Cyclones will look to build on their most recent win as they take on their bitter in-state rivals, the Hawkeyes.

10. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Game 1: Butler defeated Tech in overtime 103-95. Telling Stat: The Bulldogs outscored the Raiders by 8 points from the FT line in overtime. Standout Player: Chance McMillian (24 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist on 8/15 [53%] from the field off the bench).

Stat to Know: Tech is 13th among Big 12 teams in 3P%.

Outlook: The Red Raiders battled back from an early double-digit deficit against a good Butler team before running out of steam in OT. While Tech’s defense has been far from elite, thus far, it is still the strength of the team and will need to be the tool Tech uses to win games while their offense tries to find its footing.

11. Kansas State Wildcats

Game 1: KSU defeated Oral Roberts in overtime 88-78. Telling Stat: The Wildcats outscored the Golden Eagles by 10 points off second-chance opportunities. Standout Player: Cam Carter (19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals on 6/13 [46%] from the field).

Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Game 2: KSU defeated North Alabama in overtime 75-74. Telling Stat: The Wildcats outscored the Lions by 16 points in transition. Standout Player: David N’Guessan (12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal on 5/6 [83%] from the field).

Stat to Know: Kansas State has the worst FG% defense among Big 12 teams.

Outlook: The good news is that the Wildcats won both their games last week. The bad news is that both wins were ugly and against bad competition. The fact is that KSU’s resume is ugly at this point. They have two decisive wins coming against teams with a combined record of 5-13, 3 overtime wins against non-power conference teams, an 8-point home win over Bellarmine (3-7), and a couple of losses. Things won’t get any easier as KSU faces 3 consecutive power conference foes over the next 2 weeks.

12. UCF Knights

Game 1: UCF defeated Lipscomb 72-57. Telling Stat: The Knights outscored the Bisons by 20 points in the paint. Standout Player: Darius Jonhson (19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals on 7/12 [58%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Knights have the worst assist-to-turnover ratio of any Big 12 team.

Outlook: UCF has been flirting with disaster to start their season. They lost a buy game to Stetson after beating South Dakota State and Charlotte by a combined 6 points. They finally started to put some of the pieces together against Lipscomb. UCF will need to build off the momentum of that win before facing another power conference opponent this weekend.

13. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Game 1: Creighton defeated OSU 79-65. Telling Stat: The Cowboys only made 18/46 (39%) of their two-pointers. Standout Player: Eric Dailey, Jr. (13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 4/6 [67%] from the field).

Stat to Know: The Pokes have the worst rebounding margin in the Big 12.

Outlook: A loss to Creighton wouldn’t be so bad if the team hadn’t been 3-3 going into that matchup. The Pokes won’t face another power conference team until they open Big 12 play against Baylor. They’ll need to use their remaining tune-up games to find solutions to the several problems facing this team on both ends of the floor.

14. West Virginia Mountaineers

Game 1: St. John’s defeated WVU 79-73. Telling Stat: The Red Storm outscored the Mountaineers by 14 points off second-chance opportunities. Standout Player: Quinn Slazinski (19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block on 5/10 [50%] from the field).

Stat to Know: West Virginia ranks 321st nationally in turnover margin.

Outlook: West Virginia’s dismal start to the season continues as they continue to struggle in several aspects of the game, most notably shooting the ball. The month of December will see WVU face a couple more power conference opponents before the calendar turns over and conference play starts.

Conclusion

At this point, it’s hard to say that there’s much separation between any of the top 6-8 teams in the conference thus far. That should slowly begin to change as several of those top contenders play some quality non-conference games over the coming weeks. Sic Em!

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