Big 12 Power Rankings: Week FourPosted by KoryCarpenter on December 3rd, 2012
Monday’s AP Poll confirmed what most Big 12 fans already knew: The conference isn’t very good right now. Kansas entered the top 10 and Oklahoma State sits at No. 23, and that’s it. Baylor’s win at Kentucky on Saturday should inch the Bears closer to the Top 25, but their overall resume isn’t there yet. As for Oklahoma State, its 81-71 loss last week to Virginia Tech drops them to No. 2 in our weekly power rankings, with Kansas taking its familiar spot atop the Big 12.
1) Kansas (6-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: W 70-57 vs. San Jose State, W 84-78 vs. Oregon State
This Week: Saturday vs. Colorado, 1:00 PM CST
- Rundown: The Jayhawks have won five in a row since losing to Michigan State in Atlanta and look to be getting better, albeit slowly. Freshman guard Ben McLemore is making his case to be the third one-and-done player Bill Self has had at Kansas, and senior center Jeff Withey is playing the best defense in the country with 5.7 BPG. Saturday’s game at home against Colorado (who beat Baylor last month) should give fans a good gauge on the team’s improvement before winter break.
- Danger Zone: Point guard play. Bill Self isn’t happy at all with his perimeter defense, and he shouldn’t be. Opposing guards have been lighting up the Kansas D all season. On offense, senior guard Elijah Johnson is playing the point for the first time in his career. He played off the ball for most of last season, deferring to Tyshawn Taylor. Now it’s Johnson’s job to lead the offense and get the ball inside when Kansas needs it, and come March, Johnson’s play could be the difference between consecutive Final Fours or another Tournament flameout.
2) Oklahoma State (5-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: L 81-71 at Virginia Tech
This Week: Wednesday vs. South Florida, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs. Missouri State, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: Freshman point guard Marcus Smart continued to impress against Virginia Tech last week (18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists), but it wasn’t enough to make up for the team’s putrid night from deep. The Cowboys went 4-23 from three-point range and the Hokies eventually won, 81-71. The schedule softens now, though, and the wins should pile up this month until a New Year’s Eve meeting with Gonzaga in Stillwater.
- Danger Zone: It’s never a good thing when your freshman point guard leads the team in rebounding. Smart is averaging 7.7 RPG and while it complements the rest of his game nicely, the Cowboys need to find more consistent post play. Smart and sophomore guard Le’Bryan Nash are great, but being 135th in the country in RPG (36.5) won’t lead to sustained success this season.
Last Week: W 64-55 at Kentucky
This Week: Tuesday vs. Northwestern, 8:00 PM
- Rundown: We’re still not sure how good Kentucky is this season, but snapping the nation’s longest home court winning streak (55 games) is impressive enough to vault the Bears a few spots into our top three. It’s not like there is much competition in the Big 12 right now. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson is as good as advertised (19.9 PPG, 6.4 APG) and the emergence of junior forward Cory Jefferson (13.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG) have helped the Bears to a 5-2 record
- Danger Zone: Short of winning a national championship, I’ll never fully trust head coach Scott Drew to help his team reach its potential. Drew has had truckloads of talent the last few seasons and yet doesn’t have much hardware to show for it.
4) Kansas State (6-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 3
Last Week: W 72-53 vs. South Carolina-Upstate
This Week: Saturday at George Washington, 1:30 PM
- Rundown: The only grade you could give Kansas State so far is an incomplete. Getting beat by No. 3 Michigan in Madison Square Garden was far from a bad loss, but the rest of the schedule is made up of multi-directional schools and teams named the “Ospreys.” But the Wildcats are still rebounding well (7th in the country with 44.4 per game) and that will help them stay in most games this season.
- Danger Zone: Kansas State has a bunch of solid players, but no one that scares except possibly senior guard Rodney McGruder. If he has a bad night, who steps up? Those questions aren’t answered against teams like South Carolina-Upstate and North Florida, but they will be in a month when Big 12 play begins.
5) Texas (5-2,0-0)
Previous Ranking: 7
Last Week: W 65-37 vs. Sam Houston State, W 70-54 vs. Texas-San Antonio
This Week: Tuesday vs. Georgetown, 6:00 PM, Saturday vs. UCLA, 3:15 PM
- Rundown: The Longhorns wait for a ruling in the Myck Kabongo case while their offense continues to sputter without the sophomore point guard. They’ve won three in a row since the embarrassing performances in Hawaii, and this week should gives them a few chances at quality wins as Georgetown and UCLA come to the Lone Star State.
- Danger Zone: The offense should improve greatly if/when Kabongo returns (The Austin American-Statesmen predicts a 10-game suspension). If he doesn’t or isn’t as good as last season, Texas will have trouble competing in the Big 12 this season. They’re averaging just 64.9 PPG, scoring over 70 points only once this season.
6) Iowa State (5-2, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Week: W 83-62 vs. BYU
This Week: Tuesday vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 7:00 PM, Friday at Iowa, 7:00 PM, Sunday vs. Nebraska-Omaha
- Rundown: The Cyclones rebounded nicely against BYU after back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and UNLV. Senior guard Will Clyburn is playing great in his first and only season in Ames, averaging 17.3 PPG and 8.6 RPG. The Cylones are out-rebounding every team in the country as of today with 46.9 RPG
- Danger Zone: Falling in love with the three-pointer can be deadly for a team. The Cyclones have proved that early this season, shooting a combined 16-55 (29%) in both of their losses. With a big guard like Clyburn, a proven big man like Melvin Ejim, and a solid point guard in Korie Lucious, there’s no need to jack up 28 three-pointers a game.
7) Oklahoma (6-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Week: W 63-62 vs. Oral Roberts, W 69-65 vs. Northwestern State
This Week: Tuesday at Arkansas, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: The Sooners drop three spots to No. 7 despite winning both games this week, but that’s what happens when you squeak past Oral Roberts and Northwestern State at home. This week will present a step up in competition as they travel Arkansas to face Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks, who are 3-3 and looking for their first win over a power conference opponent.
- Danger Zone: The guard play needs to improve for Oklahoma. They’re averaging only 11.9 APG as a team, 234th in the country. It’s affecting their scoring, too, as they’re getting only 67.4 PPG.
8) West Virginia (2-3, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 9
Last Week: W 94-69 vs. Virginia Military Institute
This Week: Wednesday vs. Marshall, 6:00 PM, Saturday vs. Virginia Tech, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: West Virginia football struggled in its first year in the Big 12 as it adjusted to the tougher competition. West Virginia basketball is struggling in its Big 12 debut because it isn’t a good team. Marist and Virginia Military Institute are the only wins for Bob Huggins’ crew and upcoming games against Virginia Tech and Michigan could be crucial for their NCAA Tournament resume.
- Danger Zone: Everything? The defense isn’t great and the offense is worse. Maybe I’m being hard on the Mountaineers due to preseason expectations, but they have a lot to improve upon before Big 12 play.
9) Texas Tech (4-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 8
Last Week: L vs. Arizona, 85-57
This Week: Tuesday vs. Northern Kentucky, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: The Red Raiders were run out of the gym by Arizona on Saturday in Lubbock, not surprisingly. Interim head coach Chris Walker is coaching for his job this season, and he couldn’t have been in a worse spot as far as power conference coaching jobs go. Billy Gillispie left the roster depleted, a roster that wasn’t impressive to begin with. They’ve at least beaten the teams they were supposed to beat, though and the next two games against Northern Kentucky and McNeese State are certainly winnable
- Danger Zone: The two leading scorers this year are big men and the leading scorer on the perimeter is a freshman, which explains the unimpressive 12.6 APG (197th in the country). Failing to create easy shots will ultimately sink the Red Raiders this year, among other things.
10) TCU (6-2, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 10
Last Week: W 61-52 vs. Southern Utah
This Week: Tuesday vs. Houston, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Tulsa, 12:05 PM
- Rundown: I’ll be surprised if TCU climbs up from the 10th spot this season. The Horned Frogs may turn out to be Big 12 competitors one season, but that isn’t this year. The UAB win was nice, though?
- Danger Zone: When Northwestern is the best team you’ve played and you’re averaging 56 PPG, you have problems. TCU has been held under 48 points in three of their eight games and scored just 61 points in a nine-point win over Southern Utah last week.