Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 14Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 11th, 2013
It’s not too early to call tonight’s game between Kansas and Kansas State the Game Of The Year in the Big 12. Not with first place on the line and a chance for K-State to put the Jayhawks two games back with only seven games remaining. As for our rankings, there was a big shakeup this week with teams #1-#6, as each squad in that group either moved up or down from last week’s list. Most notable was the ascent of the Wildcats, who take the top spot for the first time this season. I decided to hold off on the Bracket Matrix Projected NCAA Tournament Seeds this week because it hasn’t been updated since Saturday’s games.
1) Kansas State (19-4, 8-2 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: W 68-59 at Texas Tech, W 79-70 vs. Iowa State
This Week: Tonight at Kansas, 8:00 PM CST, Saturday vs. Baylor, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: They earned the split with Iowa State with a 79-70 win over the Cyclones on Saturday and have now won four in a row and 12 of their last 14. Rodney McGruder carried K-State with 22 points and five assists against Iowa State on Saturday and averaged 20 points per game this week. If he continues on that pace coupled with Kansas’ recent struggles, a road-team split with the Jayhawks isn’t out of the question.
- Reason to be optimistic: They’re playing solid defense as of late, holding three of their last four opponents under 60 points, and any concerns with Frank Martin’s players not buying into Bruce Weber’s system are long gone at this point. Not only has McGruder stepped up offensively, but sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez averaged 16.5 PPG last week as well.
2) Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3)
Previous Ranking: 3
Last Week: W 69-67 (OT) vs. Baylor, W 72-59 at Texas
This Week: Wednesday at Texas Tech, 6:00 PM, Saturday vs. Oklahoma, 12:30 PM
- Rundown: The Cowboys have been a little unlucky in that their two biggest wins — vs. North Carolina State in November and at Kansas last week — were quickly watered down. North Carolina State, then #6 in the country, lost two games later to Michigan. Kansas dropped two more games in a row, including to dreadful TCU, after losing to OSU. Even so, the Cowboys have won six out of seven games thanks to junior guard Markel Brown, who has averaged 16.7 PPG in that stretch.
- Reason to be optimistic: Oklahoma State has more NBA talent than any other team in the Big 12. Coupled with the confidence they undoubtedly have gained with their recent wins against Iowa State, Kansas, and Baylor, the Cowboys could be quite dangerous in March.
3) Kansas (19-4, 7-3)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: L 62-55 at TCU, L 72-66 at Oklahoma
This Week: Tonight vs Kansas State, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs. Texas, 8:00 PM
- Rundown: I’ll save the Kansas uulogy for now because a win tonight puts the Jayhawks back in first place. Bill Self’s offense disappeared the last two games as the team shot just 38% from the field in losses to TCU and Oklahoma. Now they face a hungry Kansas State team while looking to avoid a preposterous four-game losing streak. Elijah Johnson will have to play better than he has during the last 10 days, where he’s had 11 assists and 10 turnovers to go with 9-of-27 shooting.
- Reason To Be Optimistic: The Jayhawks are 7.5 point favorites tonight against Kansas State, which probably means one of two things: 1) Vegas thinks they will get even betting on the game with Kansas as clear favorites; 2) Vegas really wants money to go toward Kansas State because they think Kansas will cover easily. I have to believe that most of the betting public will jump on Kansas State here, making theory #2 more plausible. And in my experience, when Vegas likes you, that’s never a bad thing.
4) Oklahoma (15-7, 6-4)
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Week: L 83-64 at Iowa State, W 72-66 vs. Kansas
This Week: Tonight vs. TCU, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Oklahoma State, 12:30 PM
- Rundown: The Sooners have been up and down in the conference season, winning their first three Big 12 games before going 3-4 in their last seven. They have solid wins over Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Kansas, the latter of which may have solidified a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
- Reason to be optimistic: The remaining schedule should make any Sooner fan confident in earning an NCAA Tournament bid, as five of their last eight games are against the quartet of futility — West Virginia, Texas, Texas Tech, and TCU.
5) Iowa State (16-7, 6-4)
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Week: W 83-64 vs. Oklahoma, L 79-70 at Kansas State
This Week: Wednesday at Texas, 7:00 PM, Saturday vs. TCU, 12:45 PM
- Rundown: A pair of games against Texas and TCU should be a nice breather for an Iowa State team looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since November. The Cyclones shot 49.1% against Kansas State on Saturday, but let the Wildcats hit for 51% and lost by nine in Manhattan. When they have struggled this season, defense has usually been the culprit. They have given up at least 78 points in six of their seven losses this season.
- Reason to be optimistic: The Cyclones will most likely be underdogs in every NCAA Tournament game they appear in, but their three-point shooting — they average 25 attempts per game, making nine — can keep them around with most teams. On the other hand, they can shoot themselves out of those games just as quickly, too.
6) Baylor (15-8, 6-4)
Previous Ranking: 5
Last Week: L 69-67 (OT) at Oklahoma State, W 75-48 vs Texas Tech
This Week: Wednesday vs West Virginia, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Kansas State, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: The Bears were looking great until a three-game skid sent them down the conference standings last week. Freshman center Isaiah Austin was quiet in two of those losses, averaging only eight points against Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
- Reason to be optimistic: They rebound well (#19 in the country with 39.7 RPG) and they have one of the best point guards in the country in Pierre Jackson, who is averaging 19.1 PPG and 6.0 APG.
7) West Virginia (12-11, 5-5)
Previous Ranking: 7
Last Week: W 60-58 vs. Texas, W 63-50 at TCU
This Week: Wednesday at Baylor 8:00 PM, Saturday vs. Texas Tech, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: West Virginia swept the other schools in the quartet of futility in their last three games to give Bob Huggins his first three-game winning streak this calendar year. The defense stepped up in that stretch, giving up just 56.6 PPG.
- Reason to be optimistic: Outside of senior forward Deniz Kilicli (7.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG), every noteworthy player returns next year, led by junior center Aaric Murray (9.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG).
8) Texas (10-13, 2-8)
Previous Ranking: 8
Last Week: L 60-58 at West Virginia, L 72-59 vs. Oklahoma State
This Week: Wednesday vs. Iowa State, 7:00 PM, Saturday at Kansas, 8:00 PM
- Rundown: Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo returns from his 23-game suspension on Wednesday against Iowa State, undoubtedly giving the team a much needed boost heading down the stretch in conference play. Kabongo averaged 9.6 PPG and 5.2 APG last season for the Longhorns.
- Reason to be optimistic: The entire rotation is made up of underclassmen, so it’s understandable how the team could have nosedived without its starting point guard this season. Also, with the amount of time Kabongo has missed, there’s a very good chance he will return for his junior year.
9) Texas Tech (9-12, 2-8)
Previous Ranking: 9
Last Week: L 68-59 vs. Kansas State, L 75-48 at Baylor
This Week: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, 6:00 PM, Saturday at West Virginia, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: The Red Raiders have a difficult schedule during the last month of the season, with games still to play at Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas. They are losers of their last four and have reached the 60-point mark just once in their last six games.
- Reason to be optimistic: Like Texas, Texas Tech returns its leading scorers as well: Junior forward Jaye Crockett (12.0 PPG) and sophomore forward Jordan Tolbert (9.4 PPG). The duo also leads the team in rebounding, with Crockett at 7.1 RPG and Tolbert with 5.7 RPG.
10) TCU (10-13, 1-9)
Previous Ranking: 10
Last Week: W 62-55 vs. Kansas, L 63-50 vs. West Virginia
This Week: Tonight at Oklahoma, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Iowa State, 12:45 PM
- Rundown: TCU’s first-ever Big 12 win came in dramatic fashion, a 62-55 victory over Kansas at home last Wednesday. With only three home games left (Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma) that appears as if it could be the only conference win this season for the Horned Frogs, whose win over Kansas spawned a catchy taunt that might only be relevant every five or 10 years: Beware of the Frog.
- Reason to be optimistic: Leading scorer Kyan Anderson (11.3 PPG) is only a sophomore, four-star recruit Karviar Shepherd will be on campus next season, and head coach Trent Johnson is a much better coach than TCU basketball probably deserves.