More shakeups to the rankings this week with some big matchups last Saturday, and of course a huge Big Monday game last night. For this week, I'm also splitting up the rankings into tiers. I don't know that I'll continue this moving forward, but for the first time this season we're starting to see some separation in the teams that have been jumbled near the top of the rankings for the last few weeks.
Tier 1 - teams with the best shot at winning the Big 12
Record: 4-1 (15-3 overall)
LW ranking: 1st
KenPom ranking: 15th (LW: 16th)
Last week: 67-57 win vs Oklahoma State, 86-61 loss at Iowa State, 85-78 win vs Oklahoma
You could make a case for Iowa State over Kansas, and I wouldn't argue too strongly against it. Still, Kansas made things very interesting in Ames, then turned around and scored a big win over Oklahoma. Given where Kansas sits in a number of statistical measures right now (most notably, far and away first in the Big 12 in efficiency margin), I'm giving them the slight edge.
2) Iowa State
Record: 3-1 (13-3 overall)
LW Ranking: 3rd
KenPom ranking: 17th (LW: 19th)
Last week: 74-73 loss at Baylor, 86-81 win vs Kansas
Iowa State scored a big victory Saturday, holding serve at home and handing Kansas a conference loss. Prior to that, they missed out on a big opportunity late to win in Waco, something Kansas was able to do. In terms of the Big 12 title race, Kansas and Iowa State are on pretty equal footing at the moment. ISU should have two cakewalk games this week, so if Kansas loses to Texas Saturday, Iowa State will likely have sole ownership of first place.
Tier 2 - very good teams who have some shot at the title, but have some losses to overcome
Record: 3-3 (12-6 overall)
LW ranking: 2nd
KenPom ranking: 10th (LW: 11th)
Last week: 86-65 loss at West Virginia, 82-65 win vs Oklahoma State, 85-78 loss at Kansas
Oklahoma's record is starting to look shaky, but this is still a very good team. Their two losses in the last week were at two tough road venues, and given how solid Oklahoma State has looked, a 17 point win in the Bedlam Series is very respectable. KenPom still ranks the Sooners as the top team in the conference, but a 3-3 start with a home loss to Kansas State may end up a bit much for them to overcome.
Record: 3-2 (14-4)
LW Ranking: 5th
KenPom ranking: 13th (LW: 28th)
Last week: 77-50 win vs West Virginia, 66-48 win at TCU
You don't usually see a team's KenPom rank swing 15 spots in one week, but two blowout wins (one on the road) will do that for you. Granted, I think KP has TCU overrated by quite a bit, but last night Texas beat them in a way no one else had been able to in Big 12 play. That and the blowout win over West Virginia suggest this team is getting things turned around. Two losses (one at home) without having played Kansas, Iowa State or at Oklahoma yet makes the road to 1st place pretty daunting, but I'm not counting Texas out at this point.
5) West Virginia
Record: 3-2 (15-3 overall)
LW Ranking: 4th
KenPom ranking: 14th (LW: 13th)
Last week: 86-65 win vs Oklahoma, 77-50 loss at Texas
I don't know what to do with this team. Just as they were starting to convince me they belonged in the top 3, they lose by 27 to a struggling Texas team. That said, just days prior, they were able to notch a 19 point win over Oklahoma. It looks like they may be a very different team on the road than at home, but they've already dropped a home game to Iowa State as well. For that reason, I have them sitting 5th right now.
Tier 3 - not title contenders, but tough outs at home and potential tournament teams
6) Oklahoma State
Record: 2-3 (12-5 overall)
LW ranking: 6th
KenPom ranking: 24th (LW: 22nd)
Last week: 67-57 loss at Kansas, 82-65 loss at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State had a rough week, having to make road trips to play Kansas and Oklahoma. They would end up losing both by double digits. Still, had things gone a little differently in their narrow loss in Ames, OSU might be in tier 2 right now. As it stands, they're a team you can't take lightly, but that is probably playing to stay on the right side of the bubble from here on out
Record: 2-3 (13-4 overall)
LW Ranking: 7th
KenPom ranking: 21st (LW: 18th)
Last week: 74-73 win vs Iowa State, 63-61 loss at Kansas State
Despite their big win over ISU last week, I was tempted to drop Baylor to 8th. A poor performance down the stretch Saturday cost them a much-needed road win in Manhattan, and while they're still in shape to have a good season, but they needed that Kansas State win to really start making noise. After an exhibition game on Wednesday, we should start finding out a bit more about Baylor over their next three games (vs Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, vs Texas)
8) Kansas State
Record: 4-1 (11-7 overall)
LW ranking: 8th
KenPom ranking: 85th (LW: 91st)
Last week: 58-51 win vs Texas Tech, 63-61 win vs Baylor
And then there's Kansas State. If you're strictly a wins-and-losses type, you can't argue with K-State's results. They followed up a shocking road win over Oklahoma with ugly-but-effective home victories over Texas Tech and Baylor. Still, Tech is awful and if Baylor weren't Baylor, K-State would be coming off a loss right now. This team still can't score, and while they don't look like the pushover they were a few weeks ago, I just can't see them picking up enough wins to make the tournament
Tier 4 - Will probably win a few at home, but not a threat if you play well against them
Record: 1-4 (14-4 overall)
LW ranking: 9th
KenPom ranking: 51st (LW: 56th)
Last week: 62-42 win at Texas Tech, 66-48 loss vs Texas
TCU got their first conference win in over a year against doormat Texas Tech, then proceeded to get spanked at home by Texas. The Horned Frogs are in a tier by themselves right now, but that's only because Texas Tech is really, really bad. This team has made strides, but the top teams in the conference probably only need to bring their B game to beat them
Tier 5 - Bad. Just bad.
10) Texas Tech
Record: 0-5 (10-8 overall)
LW ranking: 10th
KenPom ranking: 191st (LW: 164th)
Last week: 58-51 loss at Kansas State, 62-42 loss vs TCU
This team lost at home to TCU by 20. Texas Tech is only fighting a couple schools for the title of "worst major conference team" right now. To make things worse, Tech has a brutal stretch of schedule coming up, featuring back-to-back road games against Oklahoma and West Virginia to end the month of January. The only question for Tech is whether they'll find a way to steal a conference game somewhere.
Questions? Comments? Input? Feel free to contact me at PenHawkRCT@gmail.com, and follow me on twitter @kspen124