Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 15Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 18th, 2013
We don’t have many of these rankings left this season, but the Big 12 isn’t getting any easier to decipher as we inch closer to March (less than four weeks until Selection Sunday). The Big 12 still has a good chance to get six teams into the NCAA Tournament, but Baylor and Iowa State don’t have much margin for error the last three weeks of the regular season. The Cyclones are a consensus #10 seed and the Bears are an #11 seed on the latest Bracket Matrix mock bracket. The top of the conference is more of a mess, though. Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Kansas State are 9-3 but it doesn’t mean there isn’t distinctness with each record. For instance, Kansas State is 1-2 against the other first place teams while Kansas is 2-1. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, is 1-1 but plays host to the Kansas schools in the coming weeks. They are also fortunate in that two of their final three road games are against West Virginia and TCU. And that’s why the Cowboys are #1 this week.
1) Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: W 91-67 at Texas Tech, W (OT) 84-79 vs Oklahoma
This Week: Wednesday vs Kansas, 8:00 PM, Saturday at West Virginia, 1:00 PM
- Rundown: After struggling around the turn of the year and dropping three out of four, the Cowboys began playing like their talent suggests and are winners of eight of their last nine games. They have an opportunity on Wednesday to become the first Big 12 team to sweep Bill Self in a season as the Jayhawks come into Gallagher-IBA Arena, where the Cowboys have won two out of three against the Jayhawks dating back to 2007-08.
- Player Stepping Up: Freshman G Marcus Smart: Smart had 25 points, nine rebounds, and five steals in the upset over Kansas on Feb. 2. He had 23 points, seven rebounds and five steals against Texas a week later, and on Saturday against Oklahoma, Smart finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in the overtime victory.
2) Kansas (21-4. 9-3)
Previous Ranking: 3
Last Week: W 83-62 vs Kansas State, W 73-47 vs Texas
This Week: Wednesday at Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs TCU, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: It doesn’t really matter that top-10 teams have been consistently falling the last few weeks, but it can give Kansas fans a small sense of relief knowing that every perceived top team in the country has its flaws as well as the Jayhawks, who rebounded nicely last Monday with a 21-point win over Kansas State when they desperately needed a 21-point win. Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma State could decide the Big 12 championship.
- Player Stepping Up: Freshman G Ben McLemore: McLemore had 30 points against Kansas State on 9-13 shooting, a cool 69.2%. In seven of his last ten games he shot over 50% from the floor. But he can still do more, attempting 10 or less shots in six of those games. Shoot the ball, Ben.
3) Kansas State (20-5, 9-3)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: L 83-62 at Kansas, W 81-61 vs Baylor
This Week: Tonight vs West Virginia, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Texas, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: Monday’s loss at Kansas hurt, but it wasn’t all that unexpected. If they can take care of Baylor on the road on March 2, there’s still a chance the Wildcats could be 14-3 heading into the final regular season game at Oklahoma State on March 9. The remaining schedule sets up that well for K-State, with their next five games against the bottom five teams in the conference.
- Player Stepping Up: Sophomore G Angel Rodriguez: He has a 2.5:1 Assist to Turnover Ratio on the season and is averaging an efficient 19.6 PPG his last three games. In that stretch, he is 46.3% from the floor and 41.6% from three-point range.
4) Oklahoma (16-8, 7-5)
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Week: W 75-48 vs TCU, L (OT) 84-79 at Oklahoma State
This Week: Wednesday at Texas Tech, 6:00 PM, Saturday vs Baylor, 4:00 PM
- Rundown: Oklahoma’s run for a conference championship looks to have skidded to a halt after Saturday’s meltdown against Oklahoma State, a game in which they held a 10-point lead early in the second half. Instead of sitting in a second-place tie with the Cowboys and a game back of first place, the Sooners are a full two games behind Kansas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. And with only six games left, they can realistically only hope to improve their NCAA Tournament seed going forward.
- Player Stepping Up: Senior F Romero Osby: It’s unfortunate that Osby’s monster game against Oklahoma State was in a losing effort, because it may have been the best game of his career. He finished 18 points and 15 rebounds in 40 minutes of action against the Cowboys and is shooting 54.8% his last three games.
5) Iowa State (17-8. 7-5)
Previous Ranking: 5
Last Week: L 89-86 (2 OT) at Texas, W 87-53 vs TCU
This Week: Wednesday at Baylor, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs Texas Tech, 12:45 PM
- Rundown: Sitting at 3-1 in the Big 12 and with an overtime loss to Kansas their only blemish, the Cyclones looked to be a threat to win the conference championship a month ago. But the close losses to Texas Tech by five and Texas by three dashed those dreams. The remaining schedule isn’t particularly pleasing, either: At Baylor, Kansas, At Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
- Player Stepping Up: Senior G Will Clyburn: Besides the disappearing act at Kansas State (six points in 30 minutes) Clyburn has scored over his average of 15.1 PPG in four of his last five games, highlighted by the 28 point, 10 rebound performance in the win against Baylor on Feb. 2.
6) Baylor (16-9, 7-5)
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Week: W 80-60 vs West Virginia, L 81-61 at Kansas State
This Week: Wednesday vs Iowa State, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Oklahoma, 4:00 PM
- Rundown: The regression of sophomore guard Deuce Bello might have been the sticking point in Baylor’s season. The sophomore guard and former four-star recruit averages 2.5 PPG and 1.4 RPG, both slightly down from his freshman year. It wasn’t realistic to expect double-digit averages from Bello this season, but on a team that needs another scoring option on the perimeter, Bello’s lack of development was a killer.
- Player Stepping Up: Junior G Brady Heslip: It’s impressive when the opponent knows exactly what you’re going to do and you’re still able to execute that plan, which is what Heslip has done the last two games against Kansas State and West Virginia. He had 32 points on 17 shots, with only two points and two shots coming inside the three-point line.
7) West Virginia (13-12, 6-6)
Previous Ranking: 7
Last Week: L 80-60 at Baylor, W 66-64 vs Texas Tech
This Week: Tonight at Kansas State, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs Oklahoma State, 1:00 PM
- Rundown: As we’ve said a few times now, there’s a definite light at the end of this tunnel for Bob Huggins and West Virginia. Outside of senior forward Deniz Kilicli (8.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG), every player of note returns next season. It will be interesting to see how former LaSalle transfer Aaric Murray responds next season as well. He is averaging 9.1 PPG and 6.4 RPG but is only shooting 2.5 free throws per game. He could benefit from getting to the line more next season, getting the other team’s big men in foul trouble as well as getting easy points.
- Player Stepping Up: Freshman G Eron Harris: He is averaging 9.2 PPG this season but Harris has scored at least 13 points in each of his last five games, including a 19-point game against Baylor last week.
8) Texas (11-14, 3-9)
Previous Ranking: 8
Last Week: W 89-86 (2 OT) vs Iowa State, L 73-47 at Kansas
This Week: Tuesday at TCU, 7:oo PM, Saturday vs. Kansas State, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: It must have been nice to get Myck Kabongo back on the court this week, the anchor to one of the youngest teams in the country. Kabongo himself is only a sophomore, but his NBA-talent and year of collegiate experience would have worked wonders for the youngsters on this year’s team, who struggled mightily without him most of the season.
- Player Stepping Up: Freshman F Ioannis Papapetrou: Not surprisingly, he was swallowed up by Jeff Withey and had just four points and four rebounds against Kansas on Saturday. But Papapetrou strung together a nice set of stats before that, averaging 13 PPG and 6.7 RPG his previous four games.
9) Texas Tech (9-14, 2-10)
Previous Ranking: 9
Last Week: L 91-67 vs Oklahoma State, L 66-64 at West Virginia
This Week: Wednesday vs Oklahoma, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Iowa State, 12:45 PM
- Rundown: They narrowly missed their chance at a third conference win over the weekend after Josh Gray’s three-point attempt hit nothing but iron at the buzzer against West Virginia on Saturday. The Red Raiders have lost six in a row but might reach double-digit wins when TCU comes to Lubbock on March 2.
- Player Stepping Up: Junior F Jaye Crockett: Crockett leads Texas Tech with 12.1 PPG this season. He had been quiet heading into Morgantown but had 18 points and 10 rebounds on 7-12 shooting in the near-win over the Mountaineers.
10) TCU (10-15, 1-11)
Previous Ranking: 10
Last Week: L 75-48 at Oklahoma, L 87-53 at Iowa State
This Week: Tuesday vs Texas, 7:00 PM, Saturday at Kansas, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: They weren’t able to carry any momentum over from the historic win against Kansas two weeks ago, dropping three in a row. The win against the Jayhawks was the only time they’ve scored 60 points in a Big 12 game.
- Player Stepping Up: Sophomore G Kyan Anderson: Anderson is the only consistent play-maker for TCU, leading the team with 11.2 PPG and 3.2 APG.