This conference has become everything we thought it might be. Every single night anyone can win and anyone can lose. Just when we thought Kansas State was a middling team, they rattle off three victories. Just when we thought West Virginia was the beasts of the conference, they get defeated thrice.
The margin of victories for many of these games have been minuscule as well. In the past week alone we had seven games decided by single digits. Both games Tuesday evening were five point come from behind contests. It has truly been a fun ride that’s only just begun.
We’re not even halfway through conference play yet. As the midway point approaches each team is going to get another swing at opponents they’ve lost to and vice versa. We will see if the second half produces more dissimilarity or more parity.
1. Kansas (-)
Kansas was only two minutes away from truly putting a stranglehold on the rest of the Big 12. Having a two game lead at this point of the conference season would have been big for this group and more a sign of things to come in the future. Now Kansas is still at the top, but their margin for error is much smaller. There are four teams right behind them ready and hungry for the crown.
2. Kansas State (+3)
There’s not a team in the conference playing better than Bruce Weber’s Wildcats right now.While all the other teams are dealing with personnel issues, K-State just quietly treks along playing their brand of grind it out basketball and getting wins. After shellacking Oklahoma, Barry Brown and co. rattled off a pair of nice wins against TCU and at Baylor. They have been the surprise team so far and will have a true test in the Sunflower Showdown next Monday vs. Kansas. The Wildcats barely lost by a point in Lawrence earlier this season, so avenging that loss will be paramount.
3. West Virginia (-1)
After starting conference play 2-0 on the road, the Mountaineers have found themselves struggling, going 0-2 away from Morgantown. This loss to TCU was even worse as they never came close to the lead in the second half. West Virginia will need to prove whether these road losses are flukes or a trend next Wednesday in Ames against an improving Iowa State team.
4. Texas Tech (-)
Tech would be second in these rankings if not for the missing man in the middle. Zach Smith’s injury has affected this team much more than we all saw coming. Tech has been down double digits in each of the last five games and though they’ve been able to come back in two of them, the weakness is definitely there. We saw glimpses of the new offensive strategy Tech may use going forward to get their groove back. Let’s see if that works going forward. Tech will look to avenge the loss to their rival Texas at home next Wednesday.
5. Oklahoma (-2)
Kansas lost that game Tuesday night much more than the Sooners won it. This team is starting to reveal real issues on their team and their reliance on Trae Young is becoming much more evident. The Jayhawks did a wonderful job on Young not allowing him to get off as many shots as he usually likes. Though he still scored 26, he was only able to get off nine shots. Luckily for the Sooners, he made almost every basket he attempted. Needing Young to be near perfect to get wins is not a good formula for success.
6. Texas (-)
The Longhorns are 3-1 at home and 1-3 on the road. This is not surprising to see from the youngest team in the conference. Shaka Smart is starting to get more consistency from his group, or should I say predictability. We now know on the road against a tough team like last Saturday at West Virginia, is probably going to be a bad defeat. Just like we know a home game against a bottom feeder like last Monday against Iowa State should be a nice win. If these things stay true to form, look for me to comment on Texas’ nice easy victory over Ole Miss at home, and big defeat on the road against Texas Tech.
7. TCU (-)
After dropping out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since November, TCU came right back to form with a big home win over West Virginia on Monday. The Horned Frogs controlled the game the entire second half and maintained a double digit lead throughout. This is the type of energy this team had been missing since conference play began and it was imperative to finally see it now. Two road games coming up this week, though both very winnable, should be a nice test for this team and give them a chance to regain confidence.
8. Oklahoma State (+1)
The Cowboys were just five minutes away from pulling off back to back victories over top 15 teams. Okie State is still in search of their first conference road win and were that close to making it happen in Lubbock on Tuesday. Regardless, the Cowboys team was impressive this past week. Getting a big lead and holding off Oklahoma’s charge to beat them in overtime was also impressive as the Cowboys did a great job of not letting anyone else on Oklahoma’s team get going. Cowboys have a tough road test coming u against former SWC foe Arkansas. They might not have been able to notch a Big 12 road win yet but this would be just as impressive if they can get one in Fayetteville.
9. Iowa State (+1)
Iowa State still may be the worst team in the conference but they did not play like it last Saturday in Ames. The Cyclones took the 8th ranked Red Raiders to the woodshed and beat them to the tune of an 18 point victory. Holding Tech to their lowest output of the season was an impressive feat and Iowa State showed that they are an improving team..... At least at home they are. They followed that impressive win by staying true to form and getting beat on the road against Texas. Luckily for the Cyclone they have two tough contests coming up against ranked opponents, but both in the friendly confines of Hilton Coliseum. Let’s see if they can keep their two game home winning streak going.
10. Baylor (-2)
Baylor has not looked like a good team since conference play has began. Tied for last in conference play and winless on the road. The Bears played both Kansas schools this past week and lost both games in similar fashion. Saturday when the Bears played at Kansas, the Jayhawks came out to a big lead, held a double digit lead for most of it until Baylor made a run late in the game to take the lead. All the effort was for not as Kansas regained the lead and took the victory. Monday Baylor played at home against K-State and this game went the same except K-State halted Baylor’s run and stopped it before it came within five points. Baylor has lost big, lost small, and lost decisively. The main thing is they’re losing too much. For a team with tournament hopes, this season is looking grim.