Things just keep getting closer in the Big 12. Only three or four games remain for each team in the conference, and almost every one of those teams is battling for position in the Big 12. Four teams have some semi-realistic chance at claiming a share of the title, and a number of teams could find themselves anywhere between third and seventh when all is said and done. This being the case, these rankings are becoming a tougher and tougher task each week.
1) Iowa State
Record: 10-4 (20-6 overall)
LW Ranking: 2nd
KenPom ranking: 14th (LW: 16th)
Last week: 85-77 win at Texas
Iowa State keeps winning. After their loss in Norman, they were faced with the daunting task of hosting West Virginia's high-pressure attack, then heading out on the road to play two respectable opponents in Oklahoma State and Texas. They won all three, and find themselves playing for a first place tie tonight against Baylor. KenPom has them at least a 58% favorite in all four of their remaining games.
Record: 11-4 (20-6 overall)
LW ranking: 1st
KenPom ranking: 10th (LW: 9th)
Last week: 81-72 win vs TCU, 70-63 loss at Kansas State
I know some will see this demotion as a reaction to last night's loss, but the truth is that Kansas hasn't played well in over two weeks. After beating Iowa State, they played a bad game in Stillwater (masked by some hot shooting in the first half), cleaned up against an awful Texas Tech team, struggled against Baylor at home before putting them away late, played a miserable game in a loss at West Virginia, failed to ever truly put away TCU in Allen Fieldhouse, and fell apart in a loss to one of the worst teams in the conference. If Oklahoma were playing any better right now, Kansas would be ranked #3
Record: 10-5 (19-8 overall)
LW ranking: 3rd
KenPom ranking: 9th (LW: 10th)
Last week: 79-75 win at Texas Tech
KenPom continues to love this Oklahoma team, and it's easy to see the potential. The Sooners can score in a hurry, and their strong defensive numbers never really fell off quite the way most of us thought they would. That said, they just aren't playing convincing basketball. Since losing to Kansas State (seriously, how do you lose to Kansas State?), they struggled mightily at home in barely beating Texas, then went to overtime in Lubbock. We're all hoping they can do some dirty work for us in Ames, but that might be asking a bit much right now.
4) West Virginia
Record: 9-5 (21-6 overall)
LW Ranking: 5th
KenPom ranking: 23rd (LW: 29th)
Last week: 73-63 win at Oklahoma State
The West Virginia roller coaster continues. It looked like this team might be falling apart just over week ago, but now they sit just 1.5 games out of first, coming off an upset of Kansas and an impressive road win over Oklahoma State. West Virginia plays at home against Texas Saturday, then must play back-to-back road games against Kansas and Baylor. That's not an easy stretch, but you never know what this team is capable of doing on a given night.
Record: 8-6 (20-7 overall)
LW Ranking: 6th
KenPom ranking: 12th (LW: 12th)
Last week: 69-48 win vs Kansas State
Baylor moves up a spot simply by virtue of taking care of business. They avoided an upset in Lubbock, and manhandled Kansas State in Waco. With Oklahoma State's recent swoon and West Virginia's tough remaining schedule, Baylor could end up in 4th place if things go their way. First, a very tough matchup looms at Iowa State on Wednesday.
6) Oklahoma State
Record: 7-8 (17-10 overall)
LW ranking: 5th
KenPom ranking: 30th (LW: 27th)
Last week: 73-63 loss vs West Virginia
Just two weeks ago, Oklahoma State was looking great, coming off an upset of Kansas, and road wins over Texas and Baylor. They followed that stretch by losing three straight. Now, the pressure is on them to take care of business in their next two games against TCU and Texas Tech. If they drop either of those, they end the season in Morgantown, and may suddenly find themselves on the bubble with a sub-.500 finish. When OSU's starting five are clicking, they can play with most teams, but as the season goes on it's become painfully clear that they don't have the depth of talent to make up for off nights.
Record: 6-8 (17-10)
LW Ranking: 7th
KenPom ranking: 21st (LW: 19th)
Last week: 85-77 loss vs Iowa State
Speaking of the bubble, meet Texas. Simply beating Iowa State in Austin on Saturday would likely have stabilized their status as a tournament team (and would have been huge for Kansas, but I digress), but they couldn't pull it off, and find themselves looking at a sub-.500 finish in the Big 12. They play in Morgantown and Lawrence before heading home to face Baylor and Kansas State, and the way they're playing right now, a 7-11 finish is a real possibility. For weeks it's looked like the Big 12 was a lock to get seven tournament bids, but Texas is now far from a sure thing. They'll at least need to win those last two home games, and probably need to avoid losing on the opening day of the Big 12 tournament to feel safe.
8) Kansas State
Record: 7-9 (14-15 overall)
LW ranking: 9th
KenPom ranking: 85th (LW: 99th)
Last week: 69-42 loss at Baylor, 70-63 win vs Kansas
Kansas State was drubbed in back-to-back games by TCU and Baylor, but somehow managed to come back home and knock off the league-leading Jayhawks for only their second win in the last nine games. Their last two games look like all but guaranteed losses, but with this team, who knows?
Record: 3-11 (16-11 overall)
LW ranking: 8th
KenPom ranking: 53rd (LW: 54th)
Last week: 81-72 loss at Kansas
TCU managed to hang in close for Kansas for much of the game Saturday, but that appeared to have more to do with Kansas than it did TCU. The Horned Frogs' next game is a home match against Texas Tech, which should basically lock up the first non-last place finish in TCU's time as a Big 12 team.
10) Texas Tech
Record: 2-13 (12-16 overall)
LW ranking: 10th
KenPom ranking: 168th (LW: 170th)
Last week: 79-75 OT loss vs Oklahoma
Texas Tech hasn't quite flirted with pulling off upsets the way TCU has, but they've certainly shown they shouldn't be taken lightly in Lubbock. They illustrated this again Saturday, taking the Oklahoma Sooners to overtime. Tech was deal last in first edition of the power rankings, and hasn't moved since, nor will they in the coming weeks. That said, they've been a bit more competitive than I thought they'd be this year, so that's something for Tubby Smith to build on for the future.
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