Big 12 Power Rankings: Week ThreePosted by KoryCarpenter on November 28th, 2012
With a couple of weeks of games in the books, we can start getting a good gauge on Big 12 teams this season — not a great gauge this early, but good enough. The three Big 12 writers — myself, Danny, and Nate — will publish our conference power rankings every week. While a team that loses usually drops a few slots in the AP or Coaches Top 25 poll, that might not be the case here. The best teams (in our opinion at least) up until that point in the season will be on top. But don’t expect things to remain stagnant with this group of teams. There aren’t many guarantees other than TCU being pretty bad. Each of our top 10’s will be averaged out with any ties going to the higher ranked KenPom team. We’ll also try to mix it up a bit each week with a theme facing each team — this time around, we examine a player stepping up for each squad, someone who maybe wasn’t expected to shoulder as much of the load as he’s done so far this season.
1) Oklahoma State (5-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Week: W 81-51 vs. Portland State
This Week: Saturday @ Virginia Tech, 2:00 PM CST
- Rundown: With the return of sophomore guard Le’Bryan Nash and the introduction of freshman point guard and former five-star recruit Marcus Smart, the Cowboys are 5-0 with an impressive upset of then No. 6 North Carolina State on November 18. It’s enough for them to begin the season atop the list.
- A Player Stepping Up: Junior G Markel Brown: Brown has been a nice complement to the underclassmen duo of Nash and Smart through five games this season. He’s averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG including a season-high 23 points on opening night against Portland State.
2) Kansas (5-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: W 78-41 vs. Washington State, W 73-59 vs. Saint Louis
This Week: W 70-57 vs San Jose State, Friday vs. Oregon State, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: The Jayhawks should have beaten Michigan State a few weeks ago but struggled down the stretch, eventually losing, 67-64. They’ve also looked less than impressive at times against subpar competition at home. Southeast Missouri State got within striking distance in the second half, Chattanooga held an eight-point halftime lead, and San Jose State lost by only 13 on Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse. Bill Self will have this group improved by conference play, but for now, they’re going to continue to be inconsistent while the freshmen get acclimated.
- A Player Stepping Up: Senior G Travis Releford: The senior guard was named Big 12 Player of the Week last week after averaging 20 points in wins over Washington State and Saint Louis in the CBE Classic. Never a true first or second option on offense, Releford is Bill Self’s go-to defender on the perimeter and he’s a nearly automatic in transition.
3) Kansas State (5-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Week: W 66-63 vs. Delaware, L 71-57 vs. Michigan
This Week: Sunday vs. South Carolina Upstate, 1:00 PM
- Rundown: The toughness that’s the framework for every Frank Martin team seems to have carried over after the head coach departed for South Carolina. Bruce Weber’s Wildcats are 12th in the country with 44.3 RPG. They’re 5-1 but are 0-1 against power conference competition, the loss coming to No. 3 Michigan in the pre-season NIT, 71-57.
- A Player Stepping Up: Sophomore F Thomas Gibson: Gibson leads the Wildcats in rebounds with six per game. His scoring will probably never be consistent but he’s grabbed over five rebounds in five of Kansas State’s six games this season.
4) Oklahoma (4-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 8
Last Week: W 68-61 vs. UTEP, L 72-47 vs. Gonzaga, W 77-70 vs. West Virginia
This Week: Tonight vs. Oral Roberts, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: The Sooners were run out of the gym against Gonzaga in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic, 72-47, but then beat West Virginia in the first of potentially three meetings with the Mountaineers this season. That win puts them ahead of most teams in the Big 12 right now.
- A Player Stepping Up: Junior F Amath M’Baye: It was a surprise to hear M’Baye had been named a team captain for the Sooners this year, considering he sat out last season after transferring from Wyoming. He hasn’t disappointed yet, scoring 19 in the win over West Virginia on Sunday.
5) Baylor (4-2, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: L 63-59 vs. College of Charleston
This Week: Saturday @ Kentucky, 11:30 AM
- Rundown: Baylor has too much talent to be losing at home to teams like the College of Charleston, which they did on Saturday. They have six days off to prepare for Saturday’s showdown with Kentucky in Rupp Arena. A win against the Wildcats would vault the Bears up next week’s ranking.
- A Player Stepping Up: Junior F Cory Jefferson: Jefferson’s name was rarely mentioned — if ever — when previewing the Bears this season. That’s changed after shooting 70.6 percent from the floor through six games and averaging 14.3 PPG and 9.0 RPG. Next Up: The Kentucky front line on Saturday afternoon.
6) Iowa State (4-2, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 7
Last Week: W 86-57 vs. North Carolina A&T, L 78-70 vs. Cincinnati, L 82-70 vs. UNLV
This Week: Saturday vs. BYU, 1:00 PM
- Rundown: Iowa State gets some credit here for playing two ranked teams already. They get some credit, because losing rather easily to two ranked teams doesn’t do much for a team’s resume. Their four wins are against teams like Southern and Alabama A&M, so it’s hard putting them any higher than sixth this week.
- A Player Stepping Up: Senior G Will Clyburn: Another highly anticipated mid-major transfer, Clyburn is living up to his coach’s expectations so far. He scored 21 in his debut against UNLV and has scored at least 14 in three of his other four games.
7) Texas (4-2, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 3
Last Week: L 86-73 vs. Chaminade, L 59-53 vs. USC, W 69-55 vs. Mississippi
This Week: W 65-37 vs. Sam Houston State, Saturday vs. Texas-Arlington, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: Baylor lost to College of Charleston, which was bad, but Texas found a way to top that in the Maui Invitational, losing to Division II Chaminade by 13 points. They miss sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo badly and won’t get far without him this season. Sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan has been lighting it up on offense, though, averaging 17.8 PPG.
- A Player Stepping Up: Junior F Jonathan Holmes: While the Longhorns wait on the possible return of Kabongo, Holmes is impressing along the front line. He’s grabbing 9.4 RPG to lead the team and secured 14 boards in the win over Fresno State on November 9.
8) Texas Tech (4-0, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 9
Last Week: W 91-56 vs. Grambling
This Week: W 84-75 vs. Jackson State, Saturday vs. Arizona, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: Texas Tech wasn’t expected to do much this season and they haven’t proven us wrong yet. They’ve beaten the following teams: Prairie View A&M, Nebraska-Omaha, Grambling, and Jackson State. Luckily for any fans left in Lubbock, No. 9 Arizona comes to town Friday night and we’ll have a better idea where the Red Raiders stand in the Big 12.
- A Player Stepping Up: Jaye Crockett: Crockett has been slowly building to this point for two seasons in Lubbock. He averaged 4.8 PPG and 8.8 PPG as a freshman and sophomore, and is scoring 16 PPG through four games this season to go with his 9 RPG.
9) West Virginia (1-3, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 5
Last Week: W 87-44 vs. Marist, L 63-60 vs. Davidson, L 77-70 vs. Oklahoma
This Week: Tonight vs. Virginia Military Institute, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: Gonzaga proved last year’s NCAA Tournament win over West Virginia wasn’t a fluke on opening night, rolling the Mountaineers in Spokane, 84-50. Then back-to-back losses to Davidson and Oklahoma put Bob Huggins’ crew in a tough spot with a few good non-conference games left against Virginia Tech and No. 3 Michigan. But hey, at least they beat Marist.
- A Player Stepping Up: We’ll stick with the transfer theme and choose former La Salle C Aaric Murray. He leads the Mountaineers with 9.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG. He’s been the only bright spot for a Mountaineers squad looking to avoid three losses in a row tonight at home against Virginia Military Institute.
10) TCU (5-2, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 10
Last Week: W 47-45 vs. Navy, L 55-31 vs. Northwestern, W 76-73 vs. UAB
This Week: Thursday vs. Southern Utah, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: Like the rest of conference realignment, TCU’s move to the Big 12 was for football and football only. The Horned Frogs aren’t ready for basketball in the Big 12. Scoring 47 and 44 in wins over Prairie View A&M and Navy make that point pretty clear.
- A Player Stepping Up: Sophomore G Kyan Anderson: Anderson is improving in every major statistical category early in his sophomore season. He’s shooting the ball well at 52.6 percent and leads the team with 12 PPG. He also led the Horned Frogs to a win over Cal Poly, which is more than anyone on UCLA can say.