Starting this week, I am going to try and rank the Big 12 college basketball teams each and every Sunday. Right now, the Big 12 is wildly inconsistent as a whole, and the only obvious slot is #1. With Kansas. After that, it just gets crazy.
1) (1) Kansas Jayhawks18-0 (3-0) --> Of all the teams in the Big 12, there is clearly one above the rest. Sure, we didn't play well at all yesterday, but our first two conference performances were more than dominating. 3 wins by a combined 57 points. We have 8 players (5 starters + Sherron Collins, Sasha Kaun and Cole Aldrich) that would start on just about any other team in the conference, easily the most talent in the conference. We have a legitimate chance to go undefeated, and the biggest roadblock between now and then might be a trip to Manhattan in less than two weeks.
Last Week: vs. Oklahoma (85-55) :: @ Missouri (76-70)
This Week: vs. Iowa State (1/23) :: vs. Nebraska (1-26)
2) (5) Kansas State Wildcats 12-4 (2-0) --> Laugh all you want, but the Wildcats are for real this season. After their non-conference slate, I wasn't so sure, they lost a couple of games you wouldn't expect. But then they went and beat an Oklahoma team on the road in Norman, a Boomer Sooner team that still had Blake Griffin 100% healthy. Road wins in the Big 12 are really hard to come by, sot hat was one positive step. Then came yesterday's absolute demolition of the #9 ranked Texas A&M Aggies, a team that was almost universally considered the second best team in the conference entering conference play. Michael Beasley and Co. are scary good, or at least are pretending to be right now, and I am not looking forward to the January 30th matchup between the two teams from the Sunflower State.
Last Week: vs. #9 Texas A&M (75-54)
This Week: @ Colorado (1/23) :: vs. Iowa State (1/26)
3) (3) Texas Longhorns 14-3 (1-1) --> I realize that Texas lost in their first Big 12 contest, @ Missouri, and really struggled to beat Colorado at home. I understand that they have looked far from impressive for awhile now, after starting out on a blazing pace. But I also understand, as should you, that they have a win @ UCLA, a win that is the definition of "signature". They also completely demolished a very good St. Mary's squad, and their two non-conference losses were to two of the best teams in the Big 10/11 (Michigan State and Wisconsin). Plus, they have the talent to challenge anyone in the conference, led by PG D.J. Augustin and F Damion James. Our roadtrip to Austin won't be a pretty one, and it might turn out to be our only loss of the year, if we lose.
Last Week: vs. Colorado (69-67)
This Week: @ Oklahoma State (1/21) :: vs. Texas Tech (1/26)
4) (6) Baylor Bears 15-2 (3-0) --> Wow, that record looks funny just to type in front of Baylor's name. 15-2? 3-0 in conference play, including a road win? Sure, those three wins in conference play have come against some of the worse teams in the Big 12, at home against Iowa State and Oklahoma State and a close win on the road in Lincoln, but three wins is three wins. And right now, they are tied for first place in the Big 12 with Kansas. Plus, their non-conference slate is more impressive than Texas A&M's, having won against Notre Dame, Winthrop and South Carolina away from their home floor. A couple of huge games for the Bears are next, with 5 consecutive chances to prove they are legitimate contenders for the Big 12 crown. They will probably have to win at least 2 or 3 to stay in the race, and losing all 5 would put them in serious jeopardy of reaching the NCAAs.
Last Week: vs. Oklahoma State (79-71) :: @ Nebraska (72-70)
This Week: @ #9 Texas A&M (1/23) :: vs. Oklahoma (1/26)
5) (2) Texas A&M Aggies 15-3 (1-2) --> I know that they have lost 2 conference games already, one by 15 points and the other by 21 points. But they were both on the road, and this team had gotten used to College Station after their 12 non-conference home games. Of their 15 total non-conference games, 12 of them were at home, 2 of them were in New York for the NIT Semifinals and Finals (which they won) and one was on the road. Only one. And they lost that game, to Arizona, making their road record on the season a less-than-stellar 0-3. They will have to figure out how to win on the road to be a contender in the Big 12, and their point guard play is suspect. But they have more bigs than anyone else in the conference, including Kansas, and that becomes a bigger factor the later in the season it is.
Last Week: @ Texas Tech (53-68) :: @ Kansas State (54-75)
This Week: vs. Baylor (1/23) :: @ Oklahoma State (1/26)
6) (11) Iowa State Cyclones 12-6 (2-1) --> We have our biggest mover of the week, with the Cyclones moving up from 11th place in my preseason projections all the way up to #6 this week. I understand that their non-conference was pretty bad, and that they have only won home games against Missouri and Oklahoma State in conference play so far. But a North team was due up next, after three consecutive South teams, and it came down between Iowa State and Mizzou. And while I do think that the Tigers are a better team, Iowa State did beat them, and it is too early to just blindly say that a team which lost to Illinois just has to be better than somebody. Because Illinois really, really sucks. The Cyclones will get quite a test Wednesday night when they pay Lawrence a visit, if they can just keep it close they will prove that they are considerably better than anyone gave them credit for, especially me.
Last Week: vs. Missouri (72-67) :: vs. Oklahoma State (73-66)
This Week: @ #3 Kansas (1/23) :: @ Kansas State (1/26)
7) (8) Missouri Tigers 11-7 (1-2) --> Mizzou missed a golden opportunity last night, having a chance to upset a tremendous Kansas team and give some serious weight to their NCAA hopes and dreams. That, coupled with a loss against Iowa State, isn't enough to get them into the top half of the conference right now, despite their very impressive beatdown of the Longhorns 8 days ago. Missouri is a very interesting case, playing very well against Texas and pretty well against Kansas, but dropped a huge turd up in Ames. They will have opportunities to stick their foot in the Big 12 Champion door again, but can't afford to lose any more games on its home court, or drop easy games on the road.
Last Week: @ Iowa State (67-72) :: vs. #3 Kansas (70-76)
This Week: @ Texas Tech (1/23) :: @ Colorado (1/26)
8) (4) Oklahoma Sooners 13-5 (1-2) --> They get a semi-pass against Kansas and Texas Tech because they lost Blake Griffin, who was without a doubt their best player. However, their home loss to Kansas State can't happen in any major conference, if you want to compete with the big boys you have to win winnable games at home. A loss at home against the Texas Tech Red Raiders would have been devastating to their season, ending almost any chance of winning the Big 12 and possibly ruining their chances of even getting a first round bye. These next couple weeks, without Griffin, will be key to their NCAA hopes. They have to at least stay within distance of the Big 12 leaders, because if they build themselves a hole, games at the end of the season will be devastatingly crucial.
Last Week: @ #3 Kansas (55-85) :: vs. Texas Tech (63-61)
This Week: @ Baylor (1/26)
9) (10) Oklahoma State Cowboys 10-7 (1-2) --> Again, just like the whole Iowa State-Missouri thing, I really think that Texas Tech is a better team. Tech dominated Texas A&M, but I can't move past the absolute demolition the Pokes put on the Red Raiders in the second half of their game. The Cowboys outscored Bobby Knight and the Red Raiders by 16 points in the second half, and it looked like even more of a blowout. Of course, Okie State followed that up with two consecutive road losses against traditionally poor Big 12 foes in Iowa State and Baylor, but road games are always tough in conference play. Sean Sutton's job has to be on the line right now, and how he does the rest of conference play will likely be the determining factor on whether he stays or not. A big win here or there, like on Big Monday tomorrow against Texas, and protection of their home court could go a long way.
Last Week: @ Baylor (71-79) :: @ Iowa State (66-73)
This Week: vs. #19 Texas (1/21) :: vs. #11 Texas A&M (1/26)
10) (9) Texas Tech Red Raiders 10-7 (1-2) --> This team might be Bobby Knight's worst while in Lubbock, and it has no chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Zero. Chance. They looked great Wednesday night against the Aggies, sure, getting Bobby Knight his 900th win and everything. Good for them. But they lost to a Blake Griffin-less Boomer Sooner squad yesterday, and as previously mentioned got toasted up in Stillwater. They will win their fair share of games, especially at home, but they aren't scary by any means. Now watch, Bobby Knight will get them all fired up and ready to play, and they will go on a tear and creep up to the top of the Big 12 standings. This is how this stuff always works out.
Last Week: vs. #9 Texas A&M (68-53) :: @ Oklahoma (61-63)
This Week: vs. Missouri (1/23) :: @ #19 Texas (1/26)
11) (12) Colorado Buffaloes 9-8 (1-2) --> Colorado isn't very good, and I don't honestly believe that they are better than Nebraska. But again, they did win on the court against the Cornhuskers, and so I don't have enough reason to move Nebraska above Colorado right now. Colorado might want to hold on to that win right now, because when all is said and done that may be their only victory in Big 12 play. Of course, they looked even better last night down in Austin, leading the Longhorns by 8 at halftime and only a 15-1 run by Texas forced the Buffs to lose. If they play at home like they played on the road last night in The Drum, they will win a couple of games in the Coors Event Center. But I still don't see it, I am still predicting only one more victory for the Buffs this season, at home against the Iowa State Cyclones. However, they do have two really interesting games coming up this week. Two home games against fellow Big 12 North opponents, two chances to pick up an upset win and stick their noses in the conference picture. Road games are always tough in the Big 12, especially in the altitude of Boulder, Colorado.
Last Week: vs. Nebraska (55-51) :: @ #19 Texas (67-69)
This Week: vs. Kansas State (1/23) :: vs. Missouri (1/26)
12) (7) Nebraska Cornhuskers 11-5 (0-3) --> I understand that their non-conference resume is better than some of the teams ahead of them. But they are the only team without a conference win, and until they pick one up I can't put them any higher than last. Plus, two of their conference games were at home (albeit one was against Kansas), and the road game was against "mighty" Colorado, a game that real contenders have to win to be taken seriously. Nebraska has clearly proved themselves as at least a year-or-so away from seriously competing for a NCAA berth and a top-half finish in the Big 12, and they just might be the worst team in the Big 12 this season. However, as it was often noted in Kansas' game against the Cornhuskers, they are redshirting quite a bundle of young prospects, 5 freshmen I think, including a couple of bigs. So, despite their loss of Maric, the Corn figures to be much better off next season with more depth, especially inside.
Last Week: @ Colorado (51-55) :: vs. Baylor (70-72)
This Week: @ #3 Kansas (1/26)
That is all for now. I will try and do this every week, like I said, but if it gets too redundant I might switch it to every-other-week. That would create more opportunity for movement as well, so it might be more interesting.