After three weeks of Big 12 play, the conference is starting to shape up. There is a clear-cut Top Six, all contenders for NCAA bids. After that, it is a quick slide to mediocrity, and Texas A&M, who is teetering on the edge, may soon join the latter half. The biggest statement of the week was made by Oklahoma, proving that with a healthy Blake Griffin in tow they are a legitimate contender for the four-letter Tournament by winning, on the road, at previously undefeated (in conference play) Baylor. The Big 12 will likely get at least five teams to the dance, with an outside chance at six if we don't beat up too much on each other.
Last week's Power Rankings can be seen here...
1) (1) Kansas Jayhawks 20-0 (5-0) --> Two more games, two more embarrassments for the opposition. In conference play, the only team able to keep the game within 20 points was Missouri, and still the we were able to pull through with a victory. Until Kansas loses, and we might not, there is no justification for moving someone ahead of Kansas. However, Kansas might face its toughest test of the season, both so far and in the future, this Wednesday with a visit to Manhattan and the Kansas State Wildcats.
Last Week: vs. Iowa State (83-59) :: vs. Nebraska (84-49)
This Week: @ Kansas State (1/30) :: @ Colorado (2/2)
2) (2) Kansas State Wildcats 14-4 (4-0) --> For twenty-four years, the Wildcats have not won a home game against the Kansas Jayhawks. And since its inception 20 years ago, Bramlage Coliseum has yet to see a Wildcat victory against Kansas. But this year, with Michael Beasley and Billy Walker giving the Wildcats one of the most talented duos in the country, they have a chance. Maybe. They have successfully traversed the first fourth of their conference season, but they are still a bubble-team in the NCAA picture. A win over Kansas on Wednesday, and they are no longer on a bubble. A signature win over the Jayhawks will jump just about anybody into the NCAA picture, our resume is that good.
Last Week: @ Colorado (72-56) :: vs. Iowa State (82-57)
This Week: vs. #2 Kansas (1/30) :: @ Missouri (2/2)
3) (3) Texas Longhorns 16-3 (3-1) --> The Longhorns posted two solid wins, holding on to a lead in Stillwater and completely demolishing the Red Raiders at home. They are clearly the class of the South, although their games against Baylor should be a real treat. Their only conference blemish thus far was a loss in Columbia, a game in which the Tigers shot an absurd 56%, including 70% in the second half. They are facing two interesting tests this upcoming week, and they cant afford to lose both. They go on the road to College Station in a rivalry game, a game expected by many (including myself) to be among the games of the year pre-conference play. Not now, as A&M has quickly fallen from the ranks of the elite, teetering on the brinks of mediocrity. But then comes an even more interesting game; a home tilt against the upstart Baylor Bears. Texas' chances at winning the Big 12 hinge on winning at least one of these two games, and in all likelihood they will have to emerge with 'W's in both to give them a legitimate chance to pass the winner of Wednesday night's Sunflower Showdown.
Last Week: @ Oklahoma State (63-61) :: vs. Texas Tech (73-47)
This Week: @ #16 Texas A&M (1/30) :: vs. Baylor (2/2)
4) (4) Baylor Bears 16-3 (4-1) --> Quite the week for the Baylor Bears, highlighted by the Game of the Century of the Year, a five-OT thriller against A&M. They, finally, emerged victorious after having four players foul out and two more on the cusp, with four fouls each. They emerged victorious, but they showed up to Saturday afternoon's tilt against the Oklahoma Boomer Sooners with tired legs, inevitably leading to their downfall. Still, they sit alone in third place (1/2 game ahead of Texas) and could possibly climb further up the standings (and these Power Rankings) with a win in the Erwin Center on Saturday. Luckily, this is their week off in the conference season, so their legs should be all rested up before their more-than-huge tilt against Texas.
Last Week: @ #16 Texas A&M (116-110 5 OT) :: vs. Oklahoma (71-77)
This Week: @ #12 Texas (2/2)
5) (8) Oklahoma Sooners 14-5 (2-2) --> So, they are 1-1 with Blake Griffin, and 1-1 without Blake Griffin in conference play. And that is even counting the Kansas game under the "without BG" category, considering he only played the first five minutes of that game. Taylor Griffin really stepped up in his little brother's absence, and BG's injury will be one that will have positive effects come March, if the Sooners can find some way to squeeze into the Field of 65. Their road win against the Bears makes up for their home loss to the Powercats, now if they start taking care of business at home, and steal win or two on the road against the weaker teams on their schedule (OSU, anyone?) and they should be fine. Despite the records with and without Blake Griffin, it is clear they are a much better team with the fabulous freshman receiving his 35 minutes of playing time, and once he gets back 100% healthy, they figure to jump back up to the top of the Big 12 standings.
Last Week: @ Baylor (77-71)
This Week: vs. Oklahoma State (1/28) :: @ Texas A&M (2/2)
6) (5) Texas A&M Aggies 16-4 (2-3) --> Only a 1-1 week for the Aggies, but the loss was a see-who-can-last-longer, five OT thriller, and their win was on the road. They still comfortably fit into the top half of the conference, but that has more to do with the latter half's ineptitude than their ability to keep up with the Big Boys. Their win in Stillwater keeps them alive in the NCAA race, but a home win against rival (and potential Top 10) Texas would go along way in convincing A&M is more like the non-conference team, the preseason NIT champions, than the team who lost @ Texas Tech by double digits.
Last Week: vs. Baylor *110-116 5 OT) :: @ Oklahoma State (59-56)
This Week: vs. #12 Texas (1/30) :: vs. Oklahoma (2/2)
7) (7) Iowa State Cyclones 12-8 (2-3) --> I just can't move the Tigers past the Cyclones yet, not until the Tigers prove something on the court. Yes, your win against Texas was awesome. Congratulations. But then you lost three in a row to two average-at-best teams, and to the #2 team in the country at home. Iowa State, meanwhile, has just as many wins as you. Including beating you. And while getting blown out twice this week in the Sunflower State, those two teams just might be the two best in all of the Big 12. This next week is a big one for the Iowa State-Mizzou battle, especially the Clones. Iowa State has two very winnable games on their slate, vs. Colorado and @ Nebraska, and a chance to further their lead on the Tigers. Lose just one, and they shoot down the rankings. Unless, of course, the Tigers blow it. Which is very likely.
Last Week: @ #2 Kansas (59-83) :: @ Kansas State (57-82)
This Week: vs. Colorado (1/29) :: @ Nebraska (2/2)
8) (7) Missouri Tigers 11-7 (1-2) --> If Missouri wasn't able to come back and win, on the road, against Colorado last night, I would have been shocked. I know Missouri isn't the greatest team, and they lost to a pretty bad Texas Tech team Wednesday night, but they beat Texas at home. Same with Purdue in the non-con. This team has shown flashes of really good basketball, but their foul-at-all-costs philosophy is hurting them, as incredibly large discrepancies between their FTs and their opponent's FTs have hurt them. A lot. Especially against the Red Raiders Wednesday night. They have a toughish week ahead, with a game at home against Nebraska looking like their easiest win all season long.
Last Week: @ Texas Tech (84-92) :: @ Colorado (66-62)
This Week: vs. Nebraska (1/30) :: vs. Kansas State (2/2)
9) (10) Texas Tech Red Raiders 11-8 (2-3) --> Nothing special going on down in Lubbock, with a win against Mizzou. But then they got absolutely destroyed in Austin. This is likely how the season will go for the RRs, good wins at home, embarrassment on the road. I bet we beat them by 30 in Allen Field House.
Last Week: vs. Missouri (92-84) :: @ #12 Texas (47-73)
This Week: vs. Oklahoma State (2/2)
10) (9) Oklahoma State Cowboys 10-9 (1-4) --> Sean Sutton is as good as gone. All they have right now is one, measly over a decent-at-best Texas Tech team. That is all. They have lost their other four conference games, and while all of them have been within 8 points, at the end of the day it comes down to Ws. Sutton might stick around for another year, if only to see if he can turn these close games into victories for the Pokes, but he just isn't cut out to be a head coach at the BCS level.
Last Week: vs. #12 Texas (61-63) ::vs. #19 Texas A&M (56-59)
This Week: @ Oklahoma (1/28) :: @ Texas Tech (2/2)
11) (11) Colorado Buffaloes 9-10 (1-4) --> Ricardo Patton left just about nothing for Jeff Bzdelik to work with. Richard Roby is good, sure, but this is like his 18th year in college. Give me 17 years of development and I can be good, too. They are actually improving though, so at least they have that going for them. They almost beat the Tiggers at home yesterday, and they will likely pull off more than another home upset or two the rest of the year. I predicted an 1-15 record, but they have played better than expected already. But good luck this week...
Last Week: vs. Kansas State (56-72) :: vs. Missouri (62-66)
This Week: @ Iowa State (1/29) :: vs. #2 Kansas (2/2)
12) (12) Nebraska Cornhuskers 11-6 (0-4) --> Still winless. And until they actually, you know, win a game, they stay in the cellar. While few expected great things from this Cornhusker squad, even good things, they have disappointed. They were expected to be a middle-of-the-road Big 12 team, but have been the only winless conference team for awhile now. More than a week. Although, to their defense, they have already taken on the Kansas machine. And, needless to say, isn't fun. At all. And another of their losses, while at home, was against the Baylor Bears. So, yea, they should have won in the Coors Event Center. Sure. But they aren't all that bad, and I still think they are closer to the middle than the bottom. Give Doc Sadler a couple more years, they might compete for an NCAA berth. I really think he knows what he is doing, unlike a couple of Big 12 coaches.
Last Week: @ Kansas (49-84)
This Week: @ Missouri (1/30) :: vs. Iowa State (2/2)
That took forever.
I am going to start shortening the paragraphs, and even started to halfway through this one.
More on the Nebraska game, and looking ahead to K-State on Wednesday, today and tomorrow.