Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 16Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 25th, 2013
We are four days away from March, the Big 12 is close to solidifying its representation in the NCAA Tournament, and there are only two weeks left in the regular season. Obviously all games are important (Just ask Kansas about TCU), but for the top three teams in the standings, there isn’t much room for error in the home stretch, giving us great games like Wednesday’s double-overtime thriller between Kansas and Oklahoma State and tonight’s game in Ames between the Jayhawks and Iowa State. And that doesn’t even mention Kansas State’s trip to Waco on Saturday, where a win could potentially give the Wildcats sole possession of first place in the conference. But we’ll start with Kansas in the Power Rankings this week, who moves back to #1 after beating Oklahoma State on the road.
1) Kansas (23-4, 11-3)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: W 68-67 (2OT) at Oklahoma State, W 74-48 vs TCU
This Week: Tonight at Iowa State, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs West Virginia, 1:00 PM
- Rundown: Kansas is now 8-3 in the last five seasons when underdogs of four points or fewer after Wednesday’s double-overtime win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Tonight’s game in Ames is nearly as important and should be close as well (Kansas is favored by a single point). How about Jeff Withey against the Cowboys — 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes. He saved Kansas’ conference title hopes, and a win tonight could begin the conversation for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament assuming there are no more TCU-like roadblocks.
- Outlook in March: A #1 seed is possible, but I think they will drop one more game through the Big 12 Tournament and snag a #2 seed. If they don’t end up in Indiana’s bracket, there’s enough talent and coaching ability for another trip to the Final Four. But they showed us in Fort Worth that they could just as easily lose to a Stony Brook or Montana in the first round.
2) Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: L 68-67 (2OT) vs Kansas, W 73-57 at West Virginia
This Week: Wednesday at TCU, 6:00 PM Saturday vs Texas, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: I know the Cowboys have fewer wins than K-State (in conference and overall) and lost to the Wildcats back on January 5, but I can’t say Oklahoma State isn’t the second-best team in the conference right now. Not with a straight face, anyway. Marcus Smart might be the best freshman in the country and a First-Team All-American choice while Markel Brown is playing even better than Smart lately, averaging 18 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 5.0 RPG last week.
- Outlook in March: Wednesday’s game against Kansas was one of those games where a close loss wouldn’t have killed them in mock brackets and a win would have helped tremendously. They are still a #5 seed in most mock brackets and will probably end up as a #4 seed without any hiccups. They’re a definite Sweet Sixteen-level team that would give its region’s #1 seed a great game in the regional semifinals.
3) Kansas State (22-5, 11-3)
Previous Ranking: 3
Last Week: W 71-61 vs West Virginia, W 81-69 at Texas
This Week: Tonight vs Texas Tech, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Baylor, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: K-State’s three conference losses were very forgivable. They were swept by Kansas and lost by six at Iowa State, one of the toughest places to play in the Big 12. Their other two losses were to Michigan and Gonzaga, a pair of projected #2 seeds. They’re also winners of seven of their last eight games and have a relatively easy next three: Texas Tech, at Baylor, and TCU. The season finale against Oklahoma State in Stillwater will likely determine the Big 12 championship and whether the crown will be shared this season.
- Outlook in March: A conference championship would probably get the Wildcats a #3 seed, a perch above their consensus #4 seed right now. As noted, they don’t have any bad losses and have a pair of good wins over Florida and Oklahoma State.
4) Oklahoma (18-8, 9-5)
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Week: W 86-71 at Texas Tech, W 90-76 vs Baylor
This Week: Wednesday at Texas, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs Iowa State, 12:30 PM
- Rundown: The Sooners should be kicking themselves for blowing an 11-point second half lead against Oklahoma State nine days ago. If they had held on there, they would be on their second five-game winning streak of the season with an outside shot to end the regular season on a nine-game winning streak. Their toughest remaining game (Iowa State) is at home, coupled with games against three of the league’s four worst teams: Texas, West Virginia, and TCU.
- Outlook in March: If the Sooners can win three out of four and at least one game in the Big 12 Tournament, they might be able to stay out of the dreaded #8/#9 game in the NCAA Tournament where they’d face a #1 seed with a win. I wonder how low of a seed a coach would rather be than a #8 or #9. A #13, maybe? With the record the #1 seeds have in the first weekend, an #8 or #9 seed is a near-death sentence for Sweet Sixteen hopes.
5) Iowa State (19-8, 9-5)
Previous Ranking: 5
Last Week: W 87-82 at Baylor, W 86-66 vs Texas Tech
This Week: Tonight vs Kansas, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Oklahoma, 12:30 PM
- Rundown: Iowa State is fifth in the nation in scoring with 79.5 PPG and they’ve scored at least 79 points in six of their last seven games. Senior forward Will Clyburn has proven to be one of the best transfer pick-ups in the country, leading the team with 14.9 PPG
- Outlook in March: Iowa State is still on the NCAA Tournament bubble thanks to bad losses against Iowa and Texas Tech while still looking for a signature win to show the selection committee. A win against Kansas tonight would most likely lock up a Tournament bid, but wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would make up for a potential loss to the Jayhawks. The remaining schedule is difficult but it gives the Cyclones plenty of opportunities to prove their merit.
6) Baylor (16-11, 7-7)
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Week: L 87-82 vs Iowa State, L 90-76 at Oklahoma
This Week: Wednesday at West Virginia, 7:00 PM, Saturday vs Kansas State, 6:00 PM
- Rundown: At a school like Baylor, Scott Drew probably doesn’t deserve all the criticism he receives. But it’s hard to feel bad for a guy who consistently underachieves with the amount of talent he’s been able to reel into Waco. He has been to two Elite Eights, further than any other Baylor coach since 1950. But while he has two future pros in Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin, a pair of three-game losing streaks in Big 12 play will make a third E8 next month a tall task.
- Outlook in March: The Bears are a #12 seed on BracketMatrix.com as well as Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket, where he has Baylor in the First Four playing in Dayton.
7) West Virginia (13-14, 6-8)
Previous Ranking: 7
Last Week: L 71-61 at Kansas State, L 73-57 vs Oklahoma State
This Week: Wednesday vs Baylor, 7:00 PM, Saturday at Kansas, 1:00 PM
- Rundown: They nearly knocked off Kansas and proved to whomever cared that they were better than the three teams below, so the Mountaineers have that going for them. In all honesty, West Virginia returns every player of note next season not named Deniz Kilicli (8.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 22.2 MPG). With the Big 12 projected to be really, really weak next season, Bob Huggins could contend for the conference title a year from now.
8) Texas ( 12-15, 4-10)
Previous Ranking: 8
Last Week: W 68-59 at TCU, L 81-69 vs Kansas State
This Week: Wednesday at Oklahoma, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Oklahoma State, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: The future is similar to that of West Virginia, but everything revolves around sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo’s decision to stay for his junior year or enter the NBA Draft. If he stays, every player who scored this season will be back and the Longhorns should contend in the conference race. If not, the team will still be better if only because of experience. But they still won’t have a point guard, and we saw how that worked the first three months this season.
9) Texas Tech (9-16, 2-12)
Previous Ranking: 9
Last Week: L 86-71 vs Oklahoma, L 86-66 at Iowa State
This Week: Tonight at Kansas State, 6:00 PM, Saturday vs TCU, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: Interim head coach Chris Walker didn’t have much of a chance for success when he was given the opportunity to lead the program in October after Billy Gillispie’s resignation, and the Red Raiders have only 17 wins the last two seasons. It’s unclear whether Walker will be named the permanent head coach at the end of this season, but for the sake of the dozens of Texas Tech basketball fans remaining, school officials would be best off keeping Walker on staff. Everyone returns next season, so they couldn’t be any worse. Besides, who could they get better that is better than Walker?
10 TCU (10-17, 1-13)
Previous Ranking: 10
Last Week: L 68-59 vs Texas, L 74-48 at Kansas
This Week: Wednesday vs Oklahoma State, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Texas Tech, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: It may be five years before TCU is ready to compete in the Big 12, but they could be doing a lot worse than Trent Johnson, who has been to five NCAA Tournaments and two Sweet Sixteens in 14 years at the Division I level. He also snagged a four-star recruit in his first season in the Big 12, forward Karviar Shepherd, who held scholarship offers from Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, and UCLA, among others. If Johnson can start getting other top-rated high school players from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the Horned Frogs have a chance in the Big 12.