This is probably the next to last edition of this season's power rankings. I may do one after the Big 12 tournament, but each team cares to such varying extents about conference tournaments, I don't really read much into them. That said, this was a huge week in Big 12 basketball, and we're finally getting a solid idea of where every team is going to finish. As usual, several teams had a wide range of places I would have felt justified in ranking them. In fact, I only feel confident about the placement of the teams I have ranked 1st, 9th and 10th. This has led me to add an additional piece of information about each team this week: where they could be ranked. This will tell you the range of ranking positions I considered when placing each team where I did, and will help illustrate just how close Big 12 teams are to each other competitively.
Record: 12-4 (23-6 overall)
LW ranking: 2nd
KenPom ranking: 12th (LW: 10th)
Last week: 69-64 win vs Texas
Range Considered: 1st
Kansas regains their rightful spot atop the rankings after taking a weeklong break. Sure, you have to go back quite a ways to find a game where Kansas really played great basketball, but you can't really make a case for anyone else. Kansas just needs a home win tonight to clinch winning the title outright. Even if Kansas didn't fully separate themselves from the pack through consistently great basketball across the Big 12 slate, they have won the war of attrition, which is a major accomplishment in itself.
Record: 11-6 (20-9 overall)
LW ranking: 3rd
KenPom ranking: 11th (LW: 9th)
Last week: 67-60 win vs TCU, 77-70 loss at Iowa State
Range Considered: 2nd-4th
Oklahoma went into last night's game on a three game winning streak, but they'd flirted with disaster in all three wins, and two of them were against Texas Tech and TCU. In fact, the first half of last night's game against Iowa State was easily the best they'd looked in two weeks. Then, whatever the hell happened last night happened. I know it sounds like I'm making a case against Oklahoma here, but I honestly believe they're the second best team in the Big 12. After the way their two games against the Cyclones went this year, it's hard to pick out the better team. But that's exactly what I'm doing and I'm going with the team that can actually defend (for the most part).
3) Iowa State
Record: 11-6 (20-6 overall)
LW Ranking: 1st
KenPom ranking: 14th (LW: 16th)
Last week: 79-70 loss vs Baylor, 70-69 loss at Kansas State, 77-70 win vs Oklahoma
Range Considered: 2nd-4th
My first draft had Iowa State ranked second, but I decided it was hard to justify that. Iowa State was looking great last week on the heels of back-to-back road wins over Oklahoma State and Texas. Now, Okie State and Texas have hit the skids and are fighting for tournament berths, while ISU followed those huge wins with a home loss and a metldown against Kansas State. They played a putrid first half against Oklahoma, but somehow came out with a win to stop what almost became a freefall down the standings.
Record: 10-7 (22-8 overall)
LW Ranking: 5th
KenPom ranking: 9th (LW: 12th)
Last week: 79-70 win at Iowa State, 78-66 win vs West Virginia, 61-59 OT loss at Texas
Range Considered: 2nd-4th
Baylor is getting a lot of love right now, but I'm a little more hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. They needed to get scorching hot from three to come back and pull off their win in Ames, and they routed an up-and-down West Virginia team that was missing their best player. They were ahead for much of the game last night but ultimately Baylor'd away a potential 5th straight win. They've been playing well, and I thought about having them as high a second, but ultimately they're still Baylor.
5) West Virginia
Record: 10-6 (22-7 overall)
LW Ranking: 4th
KenPom ranking: 24th (LW: 23rd)
Last week: 71-64 win vs Texas, 78-66 loss at Baylor
Range Considered: 4th-5th
At this point, we know what West Virginia is, even if we don't necessarily know what they're going to be on any given night. I briefly considered 4th place for them, but quickly decided I couldn't make a case for them ahead of any of the above teams. I feel like the Mountaineers have cemented themselves in the middle of the conference, even if their record could point a bit higher. They're capable of challenging anyone, but they're just a bit too short on talent to make a serious run for the title over the course of a season.
6) Kansas State
Record: 8-9 (15-15 overall)
LW ranking: 8th
KenPom ranking: 79th (LW: 85th)
Last week: 70-69 win vs Iowa State
Range considered: 6th-8th
I don't know what to do with this team. Just when they looked completely dead in the water, they beat Oklahoma for a second time. Then they looked completely dead in the water after big losses to TCU and Baylor, but rebounded with back to back wins over Kansas and Iowa State. The talent on their roster puts them solidly below the top 5, and for long stretches of time this season, it's looked like Texas Tech might be the only worse Big 12 team. Now, somehow, they actually have a chance of finishing .500 in the league on the back of some high profile wins. Perhaps more impressive is that Marcus Foster hasn't even played well in their two most recent victories. With two consecutive wins, Kansas State is technically the hottest team in the conference, so I gave them a nod and put them 6th.
Record: 7-10 (18-12)
LW Ranking: 7th
KenPom ranking: 21st (LW: 21st)
Last week: 71-64 loss at West Virginia, 69-64 loss at Kansas, 61-59 OT win vs Baylor
Range Considered: 6th-8th
Texas was within minutes of their tournament hopes slipping through their fingers last night, but somehow charged back and beat Baylor to keep themselves in the conversation. They finish the schedule with a home tilt against Kansas State on Saturday, and once again they probably risk elimination with a loss, which would give them a 7-11 finish in conference. A win puts them just a game under .500, which Oklahoma State was able to parlay into a tournament birth last year.
8) Oklahoma State
Record: 7-9 (17-11 overall)
LW ranking: 6th
KenPom ranking: 33rd (LW: 30th)
Last week: 63-62 loss at Texas Tech
Range Considered: 6th-8th
What happened to this team? I've built them up as a tournament team from day one, and for the most part they've proven me right. Then the last two weeks happened. After a very impressive stretch where they won four out of five and pulled to 7-5 in league play, they've dropped four straight, including two home losses and road losses to the 9th and 10th teams in the conference. Most brackets I've seen still have them fairly solidly in the tournament, but they can't afford to lose their home game to TCU tomorrow night. They finish the year at West Virginia, so a loss to the Horned Frogs likely cements a 7-11 finish. RPI or not, that would make it hard for the committee to put them into the postseason.
Record: 4-12 (17-12 overall)
LW ranking: 9th
KenPom ranking: 51st (LW: 53rd)
Last week: 71-54 win vs Texas Tech, 67-60 loss at Oklahoma
Range Considered: 9th
TCU nearly nabbed a very impressive road win Saturday, but couldn't hold on to small lead down the stretch in Norman. It was just another in a long line of close calls for TCU, who will in all likelihood finish a 4-12. That's a four game improvement over last year for TCU, who may well find themselves in a postseason tournament of some kind this year.
10) Texas Tech
Record: 3-14 (13-17 overall)
LW ranking: 10th
KenPom ranking: 168th (LW: 170th)
Last week: 71-54 loss at TCU, 63-62 win vs Oklahoma State
Range Considered: 10th-blah
For the third time this year, Texas Tech proved that you can't sleepwalk through any games in the Big 12 by notching a one point victory over Oklahoma State. With Tech playing for nothing but pride, all this really accomplished was hurting the Big 12 slightly, but I suppose there's something to be said for Texas Tech still trying this time of year.
Questions? Comments? Input? Feel free to contact me at PenHawkRCT@gmail.com, and follow me on twitter @kspen124