College basketball is made up of so many twists and turns that make it so great. The bubble watch, upset specials and the madness of March are fueled by the parity top to bottom between the 340+ teams in division 1 basketball. It's what rips your heart out one second and brings you back for more the next. Parity.
Just over a month in, things have already looked the part once again. In the Big 12 specifically, some of the questions and answers about the season at hand could have been answered, but then again maybe they weren't. In the we beat them and they beat you world of college sports, what's happening around the Big 12 landscape in early season hoops?
Hold on to your hats and stay with me.
The first notable win for the conference comes to us from Kansas State. The Wildcats had an early season matchup with the #24 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hokies had been picked by some to finish 3rd in the ACC behind Duke and UNC and while K-State was expected to win, it looked like a win that you could maybe hang your hat on. K-State handles business, wins by 16 and the Hokies proceed to a 4-4 record with additional losses to UNLV, a tough Purdue team and Virginia. Now they may still advance as a battle hardened squad and put together a good season, but as of today they look overrated.
Staying in Manhattan and with the Wildcats who followed that up by defeating the #12 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs 81-64 in the CBE Classic. Just a few weeks later, this doesn't look like your Gonzaga of just a year ago. The Zags now sit 4-3 with all three losses coming to ranked opponents, but neither the Illinois or Kansas State games looked particularly close.
Then there's Texas. We all remember the collapse last year. The Longhorns showed something early with a win over a ranked Illinois and a subsequent loss to Pitt in the Coaches vs Cancer tournament. Yes it was a loss to Pitt, but Texas hung with a physical top five team.
Now proceed to last night where Texas is all but run out of the gym by USC. This a USC team sitting 5-4 with one glaring loss if you're a Big 12 fan. A loss to NEBRASKA! So does this mean Texas is bad or Nebraska is good? It probably doesn't mean either but for two schools that hate eachother, debate away.
What about Texas A&M? They beat a ranked Temple team, the same Temple team that was beaten by Cal. Cal coincidentally was pushed to the brink by an Iowa State team that has looked better than expected in the early going and now sits at 6-2 with two close losses. One to Cal and the other to Northern Iowa.
Our own Jayhawks aren't immune. We all remember "THE CALL" from just a few days ago. UCLA nearly ended the streak only to see it saved by a last second free throw. Surely UCLA is returning to form under Ben Howland right? Well if a loss yesterday to Montana from the Big Sky conference is any indication, no they aren't.
It's a wild world in college basketball, but that's what makes it fun. The we beat you and they beat who talk will continue, but for today I'll settle it.
Texas lost to USC, who lost to Nebraska, who lost to West Virginia, who lost to Miami, who lost to Rutgers, who lost to Duke, who beat Kansas State. So I'm pretty sure this puts Texas on the bottom of the Big 12. Kansas State sits securely in second, while Kansas is number one because I can be a homer here. Although Baylor certainly has an argument if Scott Drew isn't the coach.
Nebraska is fighting for the #8 spot just behind the Iowa State Cyclones by virtue of their now HUGE win over USC. Oklahoma is still the worst team in the conference after losing to a small high school outside of Enid. Mark Turgeon just wants to fly below the radar at A&M and for some reason Colorado can't stop talking about how they hired "from the family" for football.
At Missouri the guy that used to look like the predator now has a shaved head and the guy that now looks like the predator can't miss a three. The bad news? Georgetown can't either. Pat Knight is finalizing plans to put his Lubbock home on the market and that hobbit in Stillwater seems to have a team around him once again.
Ultimately the point is this. Montana, yes the Grizzlies are tops in the Big 12 based on their convincing win over UCLA, a UCLA team that Kansas barely beat. It's a we beat you and they beat who world fueled by speculation and bad arguments after one month of college basketball. Good thing we get to settle this on the court come January through March.