It’s the most wonderful time of the year
You may be still recovering from the honey baked ham that nana baked for Christmas dinner or still playing with that refurbished Nintendo 64 that your wife constantly said you were too old for, yet put it under the Christmas tree just to see your face light up with glee. Either way, you are slowly going realizing that Christmas season is coming to a close, and once New Year’s comes around, lights will be gone, jolly music stations go back to normal, and Total Wine stops selling Eggnog.
Alas, there is one reason to be excited about when it comes to this time period, and that’s conference play getting underway. This year the Big 12 just might be the toughest conference, top to bottom, that I’ve ever seen. There’s no doubt in my mind that all 10 teams in this conference have the talent to go to the tournament, but have to go through this brutal schedule, just to get to March.
Every four years in soccer, FIFA gets together to do the World Cup Draw, and group the qualifying teams into groups for the World Cup (tournament is cancelled in 2018 because USA isn’t in it, that’s how these things work right?). Every draw there is a group that is far tougher than the others and is deemed as the “group of death” because of its difficulty to get out of the group. With that being said, I know present to you: the conference of death.
1. Oklahoma (+2)
Are you not entertained?! Trae Young’s play as a freshman reminds me of when Kevin Durant was at UT and every game was a highlight reel that even rivals had to respect. After putting up 68 points in one half against Northwestern, it’s safe to say OU has earned this spot. Young is the best player in the country and right now, I am not sure there is anyone who can contain him. To make matters worse for the rest of the Big 12, it seems as though Young is making his teammates better. This team went from a one man show to having teammate, Brady Manek win newcomer of the week after posting a career high. Can they keep this going in conference play?
2. West Virginia (-1)
Holding a team under 40 points is impressive regardless of opponent and thaty’s exactly what West Virginia did to Coppin State. The Mountaineers used their swarming defense to prevent any player from the Eagles from even scoring double digits. Combine that with a nice win over Fordham and I’m sure Bob Huggins is one proud coach.
3. TCU (-1)
The Horned Frogs are one of three undefeated teams left in the country. Their schedule hasn’t been the toughest but they did beat the only ranked opponent they had in Nevada and you can only play who’s on the schedule. TCU will have plenty of opportunity to prove just how good they truly are.
4. Kansas (-)
Stanford isn’t a very good team, nor will they play in the postseason this year, but that does not take away from how Kansas played last Thursday. The Jayhawks dominated the Cardinal throughout the whole game and finally looked like the Kansas team the rest of the conference fears. December was one of the worst months for the Jayhawks in over a decade and yet they only have two losses to show for it. This team is nowhere close to being at their best. I’ve learned never to count out a Bill Self coached team (at least not until the NCAA tournament).
5. Baylor (-)
6. Texas Tech (-1)
Both teams finished their non-conference slates with easy wins over easy teams. Tech has been able to prove that they can go out and win games against ranked opponents while Baylor is yet to do so. However Baylor has gone out and beat every other team they’ve had on their schedule pretty handily. These two will have a chance to prove who’s better between the two come this Friday night at the United Supermarkets Arena.
7. Oklahoma State (-)
The Cowboys eclipsed triple digits for the second time this season putting up 102 against UTRVG. Only problem in this game was OSU giving up 83 in the process. They’ll have to make sure to tighten up that defense as this was the fifth time this season they’ve given up 70 or more points.
8. Kansas State (+1)
K-State went to Pullman, Washington, held a big lead, lost it, just to regain and win against a decent Washington State team. This is the best win for the Wildcats this season, and the perfect way to go into Big 12 play.
9. Texas (+1)
Where’s this Texas team been all season? They went to Tuscaloosa to play highly touted freshman point guard Collin Sexton and walked away with a convincing win. Mohammed Bamba was everything we thought he might be with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks, while Coach Smart’s defense held Sexton to single digits and Alabama to 50 points total. This was the best the Longhorns have played all season, are they finally headed in the right direction?
10. Iowa State (-2)
ISU beat a 3-10 UMES team by six at home. This might make you squeamish but the score isn’t indicative of the game played. The Cyclones had full control throughout and had a 21 point lead with less than 10 minutes to go. The main flaw in this game was Iowa State’s inability to make shots towards the end. This game might’ve never truly been in doubt but only scoring 21 points in an entire half is troubling to say the least.