The 2014-15 regular season is in the books, and it's time to take one last look at the Big 12 Power Rankings heading into postseason play. It was a tough year to rank this conference, with a lot of teams being very close to each other in terms of talent and quality. I can say definitely that things did not shake out the way I thought they would at the beginning of the year, which helps keep things interesting. As always, a case could be made for several teams being ranked in a number of places, but this is where I have everyone based on cumulative performance and perceived quality
Record: 13-5 (24-7 overall)
LW ranking: 2nd
KenPom ranking: 9h (LW: 12th)
Last week: 76-69 OT win vs West Virginia, 75-73 loss at Oklahoma
Kansas not only won the conference title outright, but managed to finish on a pretty strong note as well. Despite getting the L in Norman, Kansas was able to keep pace with Oklahoma on the road in a game that carried no implications whatsoever, and in which they did not suit up Perry Ellis, Cliff Alexander or Brannen Greene. To be perfectly honest, there isn't a lot of space separating Kansas from the next three teams on the list, but it's tough to find a strong argument against them in the #1 spot.
Record: 12-6 (21-9 overall)
LW ranking: 2nd
KenPom ranking: 10th (LW: 11th)
Last week: 75-73 win vs Kansas
I've believed since before the season started that Oklahoma was the second best team in the Big 12, and that's exactly where they'll finish in my power rankings. You could make a case for Baylor or Iowa State here, but Oklahoma is the team out of those three I'd be most scared to play in a tournament setting. Their offense can be explosive, and their defense never fell off the way many kept expecting it to (still 5th per KenPom).
3) Iowa State
Record: 12-6 (22-8 overall)
LW Ranking: 3rd
KenPom ranking: 14th (LW: 14th)
Last week: 89-76 win at TCU
The road did not treat Iowa State well again this year. It seemed like the Cyclones' struggles away from home may have been disappearing when they beat Oklahoma State and Texas in back-to-back road contests, but ISU lost in Manhattan and finished 4-5 on the road in Big 12 play. Overall, they went 7-7 away from Hilton, and in the end they were a bad game in Lubbock away from a share of the conference title.
Record: 11-7 (23-8 overall)
LW Ranking: 4th
KenPom ranking: 9th (LW: 12th)
Last week: 77-74 win vs Texas Tech
Baylor finished by winning 5 of 6 (though one of the 5 wins required a huge second half comeback at home against Texas Tech), and I've seen more than one expert picking them to make noise in the tournament. Baylor has size, 3 point shooting and rebounding, so we'll see if Scott Drew can get Baylor to a fourth Sweet 16 (or better) in six years.
5) West Virginia
Record: 11-7 (13-8 overall)
LW Ranking: 5th
KenPom ranking: 24th (LW: 24th)
Last week: 76-69 OT loss at Kansas, 81-72 win vs Oklahoma State
West Virginia was probably the most confusing team in the conference this year. They beat Kansas once, and really should have twice. They swept Oklahoma State, they humiliated Oklahoma, and played solid basketball in their last two games despite being without their best player and another major contributor. On the flip side, they were just 3-6 on the road, suffering 4 losses by 19 points or more there. They were swept by both Iowa State and Baylor. It will be interesting to see how they perform in a neutral court setting this week in Kansas City.
Record: 8-10 (19-12)
LW Ranking: 7th
KenPom ranking: 20th (LW: 21st)
Last week: 62-49 win vs Kansas State
Texas is 6th based on raw talent alone. They weren't able to crack .500 in the conference despite being tabbed as many as the team that would take the Big 12 crown from Kansas this year. You can't drop four home games and expect to do much damage in a conference this competitive. Isaiah Taylor simply wasn't able to improve on last year's strong freshman campaign, while Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley seemed to take steps backward. Their best player ended up being a freshman who struggled with consistency at times. Texas looks to be headed to the NCAA Tournament after righting the ship a bit at the end, and are in a unique position where they could do anything from losing in the first round to pulling off a few upsets without surprising anyone.
7) Oklahoma State
Record: 8-10 (18-12 overall)
LW ranking: 8th
KenPom ranking: 32nd (LW: 33rd)
Last week: 82-70 win vs TCU, 81-72 loss at West Virginia
After a 7-5 start in conference play, Okie State lost five of their last six and find themselves flirting with the Tournament bubble. Depth was a concern for OSU this year, who saw three starters play 75%+ of available minutes in Big 12 play. Fortunately for the Cowboys, the starting five of Forte, Hickey, Nash, Newberry and Cobbins can hold their own against most teams in the country.
8) Kansas State
Record: 8-10 (15-16 overall)
LW ranking: 6th
KenPom ranking: 80th (LW: 79th)
Last week: 62-49 loss at Texas
Is Kansas State the team that dropped home games to Georgia and Texas Southern, then lost 8 of 10 in the middle of conference play. Are they the team that tallied five combined wins over Oklahoma, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State (and played West Virginia close twice)? It's anyone's guess, but what we do know for certain is that Kansas State, regardless of who they knocked off, needs to beat TCU in the opening round of the Big12 tournament just to get the NIT. It looked like K-State may have been turning a corner as the season came to a close, but then they went to Texas and scored .83 points per possession.
Record: 4-14 (17-14 overall)
LW ranking: 9th
KenPom ranking: 59th (LW: 51st)
Last week: 82-70 loss at Oklahoma State, 89-76 loss vs Iowa State
TCU was remarkably consistent this year. They won the few games they were supposed to win, challenged anyone who failed to bring their A game against them, and lost convincingly to any top team that took the game seriously. This year's TCU team is sort of what I'd like to see from Kansas football next year. They weren't good, they didn't pull off any earth shattering upsets, but they left no doubt which direction the program was headed.
10) Texas Tech
Record: 3-15 (13-18 overall)
LW ranking: 10th
KenPom ranking: 151st (LW: 168th)
Last week: 77-74 loss at Baylor
In addition to knocking off Iowa State, Tech was able to make things interesting for a number of teams in between getting crushed. They quietly knocked off Oklahoma State, easily beat Kansas State when they were really down, and scared the daylights out of Oklahoma and Baylor. Several of Tech's biggest contributors this year were freshman, so there's reason to believe Tech's arrow could be pointed up moving forward as well.
Questions? Comments? Input? Feel free to contact me at PenHawkRCT@gmail.com, and follow me on twitter @davidpftw