Note: Even though the author line says Owen Kemp...this is a Fetch original, I had an editorial hiccup so I had to cut and paste this into a new post.
Like Denver did for football this fall, I thought doing a Big 12 power rankings would be a nice way to have a snapshot of where we stand in the thick of things. Obviously there are official conference standings, but to me process and how a team is playing is always more important than the results (until NCAA tournament time of course).
Obviously with two games a week instead of one the rankings will probably be a lot more fluid. I'm not sure yet if this will be a ranking of what teams have done lately, or how good they are overall, or the ranking of how likely a team is to win the NCAA title, or some mix of all of them, but hopefully that will sort itself out in the coming weeks. Feel free to add your two cents on it in the comments.
I wanted to put Kansas at 1, because I truly think we are the better team, but I didn't want to be outed as a homer this early. Because of their offense (ranked 25th in PPP, 76th in eFG and 102nd in two point offense) I have serious doubts as to whether they can win a national championship, and even make a final four, which I will hopefully get to sometime next week, but with the best defense in the country on both a PPP basis and eFG basis, not to mention the fact they won in Allen Fieldhouse (no matter the circumstances surrounding it) I'll have them at #1 to start.
Like I said in UT's blurb I think we are the best team. We have the best offense in the conference, the best eFG in the country and the best two point shooting in the country. We have the best player in the conference, we have a couple of the better perimeter defenders in the conference (and two of them are local kids!), and we have two of the best rebounders in the entire country. Our only weakness right now is our Memphisian free throw shooting and of course our penchant for giving away huge leads.
I actually picked Baylor to win the national title in the preseason (whoops), but I still think their ceiling is incredibly high. Perry Jones is the most talented player in the conference and will likely be the latest Big 12 one and done to go in the top two of the draft. Jones and Lace Dunn have been very good, but haven't gotten a ton of help from their supporting cast. The Bears are one of the worst teams in the country at taking care of the ball, turning it over on 24% of their possessions. Still, I like them because other than that there really isn't a weakness and out of the midpack Big 12 teams they are the most talented.
As much as I would like to put them 12th just because, Missouri is a pretty good basketball team. They are obviously known for their helter skelter style, and they have been the 15th fastest team in the country this year. The big thing about the Tigers is they always win the turnover battle. They're 14th both in terms of not turning it over and forcing turnovers. In terms of possessions used they don't really have a go to guy, but Marcus Denmon has been phenomenal for them, shooting 48% from three and having the 10th best turnover rate in the country. A good showing vs. KU probably would have seen Missouri flip with Baylor.
Yes they are 10th in the conference standings and yes we just beat them by 20, but I have Nebraska 5th. They're the third best defensive team in the conference (and 14th in the country). They've also played us twice, meaning their conference record is a bit skewed. They're really boring to watch, but they're the best defensive rebounding team in the conference and do a good job of controlling the pace of their games. KenPom has them finishing 7-9 in conference, but I think they have a good shot of going 10-6 in Big 12 play, which would get them into the tournament in my opinion.
6. Texas A&M
I'm really not sure what to make of the Aggies. They had a nice run to start the year, but have lost their last three games. Again, like Nebraska, their record is a bit skewed because they have played Texas twice already. While Nebraska is the best defensive rebounding team in the conference, A&M is the best overall rebounding team in the Big 12. Fun A&M fact: they get 25.9% of their points from free throws, 8th most in the country.
They played Kansas tough, bet Missouri at home and beat K State away back when that was a good win. I'm probably underrating the Buffs a bit but I don't think they defend well enough to mount a serious charge. They are 17th in the country in PPP but allow over a point per possession on the season. Like A&M they do good work at the free throw line, converting from the stripe at a 78.4% clip, 4th best in the country. Alec Burks and Cory Higgins are future pros, but it's actually Senior Levi Knutson who has been their most productive player: he leads the country in offensive rating amongst players with 12% possessions used.
8. Kansas State
It's a brutal schedule down the stretch for the Wildcats, who could either pile up some big wins and make an NCAA tournament case, or continue to slide further and be a CBI team. They still have to go to Colorado, Nebraska and Texas and they play Kansas and Missouri at home. KenPom has them finishing 7-9 in conference, but I think it will be probably 6-10.
9. Oklahoma State
I almost put them at 8, but decided to dock them both for the fact that they can't score (223rd in eFG), and their games are incredibly boring (Okie State gets 26.1% of its points at the line, 6th most, and their opponents get 26.8% of their points from the line, 12th most). They still have to go to Texas, Nebraska and Kansas, so good luck.
Somehow they're 4-4 in conference, but their remaining schedule isn't too fun. They actually shoot the ball pretty well (45th in eFG, 17th in 2 point offense), but they don't get shots off too often (21.8% turnover percentage, 247th in the country), and they don't get second shots off too often either (28.6% offensive rebounding, 290th nationally).
11. Texas Tech
I thought the Red Raiders were going to be pretty decent this year given their veteran laden team, but only one of their three go to guys has an O-rating north of 100. Their offense isn't horrible, but their defense is horrendous, allowing 1.03 PPP, and allowing teams to shoot almost 50% from two. Pat Knight better update his resume.
12. Iowa State
They're above three other Big 12 teams in KenPom, but they're also 1-8 in conference and still have to go to Kansas and Texas. 3-13 is what they are projected for, but I am going with 2-14 as I think they'll lose at home to either Nebraska or Colorado. Iowa State has seemingly become the asylum for troubled transfers, welcoming in former Gopher Royce White and former Spartan Chris Allen, and is the rumored destination for recently dismissed Spartan Korie Lucious. Still, they need more help than some overrated castoffs with character issues to make a climb up the Big 12 standings next year.