As the conference season continued, it seemed that the once hopeful Big 12 fans were all but doomed to watch the Jayhawks celebrate another conference championship. After the home loss to Texas Tech, it seemed that would be the first of many as the Big 12 seemed tougher than ever and KU seemed weaker than ever. Yet as the season continued we saw the Jayhawks get stronger and the conference get weaker. Once again the Kansas gloom swept over the entire conference and it seemed consecutive title no. 14 was becoming a reality...... until the state of Oklahoma swept in.
Oklahoma’s victory over Kansas put a chink in the Jayhawks’ armor, and last Saturday Oklahoma state gave Kansas a blow by defeating them in Lawrence. This is the second time in the 14-year run that Kansas has lost three games this early in conference season. The previous time, KU won the rest of the games for the regular season on their way to the title. With West Virginia, Oklahoma,and Texas Tech still left on the schedule, that doesn’t seem as likely to happen.
Which means the conference is up for grabs again, but this time there aren’t as many suitors to dethroning Kansas. Texas Tech and West Virginia have both seemed to regain their swagger and are up at the top with Kansas, while K-State and Oklahoma are a hot streak away from being there themselves. As for the rest of the conference, the best they can do is exactly what Oklahoma State did, upset the Jayhawks.
1. Kansas (-)
The Jayhawks had went 54 straight games undefeated in Allen Fieldhouse until last February when the Cyclones came in and defeated them in overtime. That home loss was the only one last year and the 10th in Bill Self’s career at Kansas. This year, the Phog hasn’t been as lucky as before. Kansas just suffered their third home loss of the season, not included a loss in Kansas City in front of a very pro-Jayhawk crowd. We’ve talked about all year that if ever there was a year to knock off Kansas this was it, well Oklahoma State just gave the rest of the conference a fighting chance with their victory.
2. Texas Tech (-)
The conference’s best chance at beating out Kansas resides in Lubbock, TX. The Red Raiders are now tied with the Jayhawks atop the conference and would be the no. 1 seed if the Big 12 tournament began today. Tech seems to have found their groove that they had lost earlier and are back to being one of the dominant teams in the conference. Tech will still need to prove they have what it takes to knock off Kansas from this ranking and from the standings when they meet up again in Lubbock, but until then the Red Raiders will need to take care of business this week against two formidable opponents, K-State and Oklahoma.
3. West Virginia (+2)
They’re baaaaack. The Mountaineers looked like a shell of their former self in the middle of conference season losing five of six games. Luckily for them, they seem to have figured it out and are back to playing their brand of basketball. A blowout win against an upstart K-State team followed by an intense clash in Norman, West Virginia knows they are still just one game out of the lead with both Texas Tech and Kansas still remaining on their schedule.
4. Kansas State (-1)
K-State found a way to bounce back after their worst loss of the season. After what seemed to be a crushing 38-point defeat to West Virginia, the Wildcats bounced back to defeat the Longhorns in Austin. Even with the road win over the Longhorns, the Wildcats are placed firmly on the tournament bubble. A weak non conference schedule combined with a home loss to Tulsa gives them a small room for error. Wildcats can boost their tournament bid this weekend against the top 10 Red Raiders.
5. Oklahoma (-1)
The Sooners have lost five of their last seven and the toll is starting to be felt on this young team. Monday, West Virginia refused to let Trae Young get passes off as he finished with just one assist, his lowest total of the season. Brady Manek also finished with 12 points off 11 shots, not a good day whatsoever. This was all after OU had just lost the Red River Rivalry on Saturday as Young scored 19 off 22 shots. This one player recipe is killing the Sooners and with road games to Ames, Lubbock, and Lawrence still left, it’ll be a tough road wherever they go.
6. Texas (-)
So much for that daunting home court advantage. Texas lost a winnable game Wednesday night to Kansas State, and now also find themselves back on the tournament bubble they thought they had escaped. Currently a nine seed in Joe Lunardi’s bracketology, they still have some work to do to be comfortably in. A loss against TCU or Baylor this week can make it even more challenging.
7. TCU (-)
The Horned Frogs may never want to see the number 10 again. TCU started the week getting dominated by No. 10 Texas Tech and then after the new polls came out, they followed that up by letting a two point deficit get away from that at No. 10 Kansas. TCU is now just hoping they can win enough games to earn an NCAA tournament berth. No team has ever won less than eight Big 12 conference games and made the tournament, it’s looking like the Horned Frogs will have to become the first.
8. Baylor (+2)
The trip to Gainesville changed something about this Baylor team. After getting beat down by Florida, Baylor has come back and played the three of the best games they’ve played all season. After the extremely close loss at Oklahoma, Baylor defeated Iowa State and then went to Stillwater to earn their first road victory of the year in style. The Bears are still the only team in the Big 12 without a signature victory, so they will still have a lot of work to do if they want to have an extended season, but these victories give them a chance.
9. Oklahoma State (-)
Oklahoma State fans went to sleep Saturday night with hopes that they’d be able to get back on the tournament bubble, and then witnessed their team lay an egg at home and dash those dreams. Inconsistency has been the story for the Cowboys all year long. Just when you think this team has what it takes, they have come back and disappointing. As far as I’m concerned the win at Kansas is nullified by the loss versus Baylor.
10. Iowa State (-2)
Remember when Cyclone fans were all high and mighty because they upset Tech three weeks ago? Well it seems like they’ve been humbled once again. After reaching a season high eighth spot in the rankings last week, the Cyclones decided that was good enough and proceeded to get blown out by the Bears and Red Raiders. Iowa State is back to being the last place team in the standings and the last place team in these rankings.