The Big 12 continues to surprise. Who would have thought that a third of the way through the conference slate, Oklahoma would be looking down at most of the league and Baylor would be looking up? Not this guy. Who would have expected Kansas to be unbeaten at this point? Again, not this guy. West Virginia seems to be improving even though their record doesn’t show it. Texas Tech is battling teams as well. At this point, I see a clear-cut favorite (KU), three potential contenders (OU, UT, OSU), two non-threatening but pesky squads (KSU, ISU), and four non-contenders (WVU, TTU, BU, TCU).
(6) Kansas 15-4 6-0
(23) Oklahoma 16-4 5-2
(25) Texas 16-4 5-2
(8) Oklahoma State 16-3 4-2
Kansas State 14-6 4-3
(16) Iowa State 15-3 3-3
West Virginia 11-9 3-4
Texas Tech 10-10 2-5
Baylor 13-6 1-5
Texas Christian 9-10 0-7
The conference teams below Kansas should continue to give each other losses. I think 14 wins will claim the conference outright. Anything above that is just gravy. Mmm, gravy…
Anyway, at this point, it’s not turning out like I thought it would. I thought there would be a clear distinction between the top 6 and the bottom 4. Instead, with WVU hanging around, the split is one spot lower, and they’re only separated by one game at this point. There’s also a pretty clear break between 1 and 2 – at least for the moment.
Let’s dive in to the happenings on the court this past week.
(6) Kansas, 15-4, 6-0
Last week: win vs Baylor 78-68, win @ TCU 91-69
This week: vs (16) Iowa State 1/29, @ (25) Texas 2/1
The Jayhawks are one of the country’s hottest teams right now. After a close call at home vs Oklahoma State, KU kept Baylor at arm’s length and torched TCU in Fort Worth. Two more Top-25 teams await them this week. The Cyclones make the return trip to Lawrence on Wednesday while the Longhorns have all week to prepare to host KU. Iowa State won’t be awed by Allen Fieldhouse; I anticipate that being a good game. KU has a very tough task in Austin though, and only a couple of days to prepare for it.
(23) Oklahoma, 16-4, 5-2
Last week: win vs TCU 77-69, win @ Texas Tech 74-65
This week: vs (8) Oklahoma State 1/27, @ (16) Iowa State 2/1
Oklahoma may not be winning big or impressively, but they are winning. The Sooners host Bedlam before travelling to Ames this coming week and both games are huge if OU wants to stay in the title hunt.
(25) Texas, 16-4, 5-2
Last week: win vs Kansas State 67-64, win @ Baylor 74-60
This week: vs (6) Kansas 2/1
The Longhorns have really turned it on since starting conference play 0-2. Two of those wins are Texas Tech and West Virginia, but wins are wins, and Texas now stands tied in second place at 5-2. UT gets the week off to prepare for Kansas on Saturday. That plus home court advantage might give Texas the edge it will need to knock off KU. It will be the biggest basketball game in Austin in quite some time – doubly so if the Cyclones manage to knock off Kansas on Wednesday.
(8) Oklahoma State, 16-3, 4-2
Last week: win vs West Virginia 81-75
This week: @ (25) Oklahoma 1/27, vs Baylor 2/1
The Cowboys just keep hanging around. West Virginia played them close in Stillwater but couldn’t come away with the upset road victory. This week could be tough for OSU as they play on the road in Norman followed by a home game against Baylor. The atmosphere at OU should be good for once, and when the Bears have their act together, they can beat just about anyone in the country.
Kansas State, 14-6, 4-3
Last week: loss @ (25) Texas 67-64, loss @ (16) Iowa State 81-75
This week: vs Texas Tech 1/28, @ West Virginia 2/1
And it’s back to reality for Kansas State. KSU lost their two road games last week by a combined 9 points. I’m sure it was the ref’s fault, after all, they’re obviously pro-KU refs. Does that make sense? I’m sure to the Wildcat faithful it does. ANYWAY, things get a little easier for Kansas State this week – or rather, what qualifies as easier in this conference. A home game (which I’m sure will be a raucous atmosphere in Bramlage (#sarcasmfont)) vs Texas Tech precedes a road trip to West Virginia. The Wildcats smoked the Mountaineers 9 days ago in Manhattan; maybe West Virginia can return the favor.
(16) Iowa State, 15-3, 3-3
Last week: win vs Kansas State 81-75
This week: @ (6) Kansas 1/29, vs (23) Oklahoma 2/1
The Cyclones held off Kansas State in what was a pretty good game in Ames last week, despite all the boo birds in Hilton Coliseum. (They should call an exterminator or something. Unless… are boo birds are an endangered species? I dunno, I didn’t go to an ag school.) Um… wait, where was I? Oh yeah, Iowa State. They get rematches against two of the teams to defeat them once already this year. If ISU wants to stay in the discussion for a conference title, they better win both games.
West Virginia, 11-9, 3-4
Last week: win vs Texas Tech 87-81, loss @ (8) Oklahoma State 81-75
This week: @ Baylor 1/28, vs Kansas State 2/1
The Mountaineers ain’t nobody’s pushover! Well, except for that KState game in Manhattan. But other than that, they’ve actually been competitive. It should be pointed out their three conference wins are against TCU, Texas Tech, and Texas Tech. They almost knocked off Oklahoma State twice, but couldn’t come through either time. Struggling Baylor will host West Virginia on Tuesday, then "Huggy Bear" will host his former team Kansas State. If WVU is going to pick up a couple more conference wins, this is the week to do it. After this, the schedule gets much more daunting.
Texas Tech, 10-10, 2-5
Last week: loss @ West Virginia 87-81, loss vs (23) Oklahoma 74-65
This week: @ Kansas State 1/28, vs TCU 2/1
The Red Raiders also have been competitive and have not been an easy out for anyone in conference play yet, losing their five conference games by a total of only 32 points. I honestly haven’t watched Tech play yet, so, this is about as far as I can go in my analysis of them. However, they’re in a similar situation this week as West Virginia – if they want to get a couple more conference wins, this is the week to do it.
Baylor, 13-6, 1-5
Last week: loss @ (6) Kansas 78-68, loss vs (25) Texas 74-60
This week: vs West Virginia 1/28, @ (8) Oklahoma State 2/1
Oh, Scott Drew. You silly, silly man. Please don’t ever leave. The Big 12 needs you!
Oh, sorry guys, I got off track there for a second. The Bears have the talent to beat anyone in the country, but lately they haven’t even been able to beat Texas Tech. If Baylor gets this turned around, maybe they can make a run in the NIT.
Texas Christian, 9-10, 0-7
Last week: loss @ (23) Oklahoma 77-69, loss vs (6) Kansas 91-69
This week: @ Texas Tech 2/1
Every conference needs a last-place team, and here we find the Horned Frogs of TCU. If they’re going to get a conference win this year, they better do it this week at Tech or next week vs Baylor. TCU didn’t stand a chance against Kansas despite a respectable showing in Norman just a few days before. Monumental upsets like last year only happen, what, about once a decade? The Frogs have all week to prepare for TTU; maybe that will help.
Questions to consider:
How long of a leash does Scott Drew have at Baylor?
Will Baylor qualify for the post-season?
How many wins will be necessary for someone to claim an outright conference title?
Is Oklahoma for real or will they be exposed this week?
How worried should KU fans be about ISU on Wednesday?
Will the week off for Texas compared with KU having a game on Wednesday be a big factor in the outcome when these two square off on Saturday?
What do you realistically expect to happen when Kansas visits Austin?