After big time upsets, record setting performances, program defining victories and buzzer beaters, we have finally made it to the halfway point of conference season. This has been one of the most exciting basketball seasons we’ve had in a long time and just as we thought coming in, there are no easy games and every game has a chance for an upset.
The second half of the season will be the time for teams to put up or shut up. February is the time for these teams to mature, to position themselves for the Big 12 tournament, and earn their way into the NCAA tournament.
1. Kansas (-)
It’s looking more and more like the Jayhawks will waltz into their 14th straight conference title. Three of the four road games that Kansas will play in the second hallf of the season are against the three worst teams in conference, and they’ve already swept their sunflower state counterpart. Their is still one team Kansas is going to have to play on the road in order to win the conference and that team is right on their heel in Lubbock, TX.
2. Texas Tech (+2)
The Red Raiders have the best chance in the conference of ending the Jayhawks streak. Tech has already beaten Kansas in Lawrence and are undefeated at home where they’ll be ready to play Kansas again. Tech went to South Carolina and gutted out a close win on the road to end their skid and then came home to avenge their loss to Texas at home. Keenan Evans has emerged as the second best player in the conference and one of three players in the conference (Young, Carter) with the ability to completely take over a game.
3. Kansas State (-1)
The Wildcats season long four game winning streak came to an abrupt end at home against their rival Monday night. K-State came to a rude awakening that they still have a ways to go to be on the Jayhawks’ level but that doesn’t mean they haven’t come a long way. Barry Brown and company has been one of the biggest surprises of the year and will be looking to get that much better as the year ends.
4. Oklahoma (+1)
Oklahoma was a 44 point Trae Young performance away from losing four of their last five games. This game against Baylor quickly became a must win as the Sooners fell behind late to the last placed team in the conference. OU has deficiencies that teams are beginning to find out but Trae Young is Trae Young, and as long as they have him, they’ll be able to squeak by anyone.
5. West Virginia (-1)
The Mountaineers on the other hand have not avoided suffering a big drop off. They’ve lost five of their last six games including a big dissapointed home loss to Kentucky on Saturday. “Press Virginia” has been figured out as evident by their blowout loss to Iowa State where they gave up 93 points. WVU has gone from the league leader to quickly sliding down the standings, Bob Huggins needs to regoupr the troops before it’s too late.
6. Texas (-)
Shaka Smart’s crew has begun to get it together. Mohamed Bamba is starting to recognize his potential as he set a school record seven blocks against Texas Tech on Wednesday. Texas came back against 10th ranked Texas Tech and pushed them to the brink. The Longhorns have gone from a NIT bubble team to a near NCAA tournament lock in less than a month.
7. TCU (-)
The Horned Frogshave found a niche that they plan on riding to a potential tournament bid. That niche is beating all the worse teams and losing to the good ones. TCU is 3-1 against losing teams in the conference while 1-4 against the winning teams. If they keep this up, they’ll ride an eight win conference season into a tourney bid by the skin of their teeth.
8. Iowa State (+1)
Iowa State followed up their dissapointed home loss to Tenessee by upsetting West Virginia in Ames on Wednesday. This Cyclone team also seems to be clicking at the right time with Donovan Jackson and Lindell Wigginton becoming key contributors. It may be too little too late for them to make the tourney but they definintely have the talent to ruin other team’s chances
9. Oklahoma State (-1)
Oklahoma State was up at Texas Tech and found a way to lose. Then they were up at Arkansas and found a way to lose. To top it all off, Okie State came back home to Stillwater to play TCU and got outplayed for an entire half. Just when it seemed like the Cowboys might’ve found their groove, they get sent back down to the basement. OSU has nine more games to find a way to work themselves back into the postseason, they have the talent to do it, it’s just a matter of closing out games.
10. Baylor (-)
Baylor had the opportunity to prove that they could finally close a game on Tuesday evening but could not get the job done. A win in Norman would’ve been the type of win to potentially turned their season around, but alas they still sit here at the bottom of the conference.