Big 12 Power Rankings: Kansas State’s in First Place??? Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 19th, 2015

The Big 12 is weird. It doesn’t even have twelve teams in it. This brown-suited man is their commissioner. Kansas State‘s best player was benched in its conference opener, a loss; and now, the same team that was 7-7 two weeks ago occupies first place in the whole dang league. Aside from weird, the Big 12 is still a very deep basketball league. Kansas State’s place atop the standings is evidence of this fact. But where did the Wildcats’ 4-1 start originate? Better end-game execution? A little bit, yes. Better effort on both ends of the floor? That’s part of it. But the transformation of K-State began with a change in mindset from their benched star, Marcus Foster. Foster came into his sophomore season with lofty expectations after bursting onto the scene last year. Some of those expectations were self-imposed and his focus was to meet them instead helping toward the greater good of the team. “Sometimes you do think to the future,” Foster told The Wichita Eagle last week. “You think about, maybe I can play in the NBA and maybe I need to start doing this. But I think my mindset is back to worrying about today and getting better at what you need to get better at every day. That is all it took for me to get in a few good games.” Following that January 3 loss to Oklahoma State, Foster scored 23 off the bench to help defeat TCU, hit the game-winning three at Oklahoma, led his team in scoring (14) and assists (four) to get by Texas Tech, and grabbed three steals in the weekend’s upset over Baylor. There is still a lot that this team’s resume needs between now and Selection Sunday, but as long as Foster continues to focus on the greater good over self, his team will have a chance. And that’s all it needs, really.

It's not hard to look for the key to K-State's 4-1 start: Marcus Foster. (AP/Charlie Riedel)

It’s not hard to look for the key to K-State’s 4-1 start: Marcus Foster. (AP/Charlie Riedel)

Power Rankings

  1. Iowa State — 3 points (All voted 1st). Comment: “The Cyclones finally delivered the first punch in their attempt to end The Streak (TM). Three of their next four games come at home with the only road trip in that stretch set to take place at Texas Tech. This means that there’s a decent chance Fred Hoiberg’s team comes to Lawrence for the return game with a stellar 7-1 league record. However, if the first two weeks of Big 12 play have taught us anything, it’s that holding the fort in this conference is anything but a given.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)
  2. Kansas — 6 points (All voted 2nd). Comment: “The Jayhawks have the top-ranked offense and defense during conference play and only lost by five on the road at Iowa State. They could get back to the top spot with wins over Oklahoma at home and Texas on the road this week.” – Chris Stone (@cstonehoops)
  3. Oklahoma — 10 points (Brian & Chris – 3rd, Nate – 4th) Comment: “Playing at Kansas tonight and at Baylor on Saturday is the Big 12 equivalent of saying RIP to one’s Twitter mentions.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)
  4. Texas — 11 points (Nate – 3rd, Brian & Chris – 4th) Comment: “The Longhorns beat West Virginia by 27 on Saturday while getting huge games out of big men Myles Turner and Cameron Ridley. More importantly? Jonathan Holmes snapped out of his Big 12 slump with 16 points on just six shots.” – CS
  5. West Virginia — 15 points (All voted 5th). Comment: “For a team that averages 77 points a game and is ranked 31st in the country in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, the Mountaineers aren’t a great shooting team. In fact, they’re a mediocre one. Asked after the Texas loss if it was difficult to miss a lot of shots, Bob Huggins replied, ‘Nah, you don’t see us practice. It’s not that hard.’ If the Mountaineers aren’t pressuring their opponents defensively, this is a very beatable team.” – NK
  6. Kansas State (tied for 6th) — 20 points (Chris & Nate – 6th, Brian – 8th) Comment: “The Wildcats may be all alone in first place right now, but I have them eighth here. Two of their four league wins have come against TCU and Texas Tech, and the close wins over Oklahoma and Baylor, while valuable, aren’t particularly impressive in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy it while it lasts, Wildcats’ fans.” – BG
  7. Baylor (tied for 6th) — 20 points (Brian – 6th, Chris & Nate – 7th) Comment: “A huge home win against Iowa State got negated by a road loss at league leader Kansas State. The Bears have been a great offensive rebounding team this season, but opponents are having success breaking down their zone, shooting 48.1 percent on two-point field goals in conference play.” – CS
  8. Oklahoma State — 23 points (Brian – 7th, Chris & Nate – 8th) Comment: “The Cowboys got whomped by 17 in Bedlam, but an upcoming home game against Texas Tech should help right the ship. Their away game against Kansas State next Saturday should give us a better idea of where Oklahoma State fits in these rankings.” – CS
  9. TCU — 27 points (All voted 9th). Comment: “The Horned Frogs got their first road win in Big 12 competition by throttling Texas Tech in Lubbock. It’s wild to see KenPom project TCU with seven wins in conference play. I’m not sure if that’s too bold or too conservative of a projection. I’ll learn to deal with these new feelings eventually.” – NK
  10. Texas Tech — 30 points (All voted 10th). Comment: “That near-upset of LSU becomes an increasingly distant memory as the Red Raiders continue to get swallowed up by an insanely competitive league.” – BG

Big 12 Video/GIF of the Week

Look away, Wildcats’ fans. Below is former Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez in his new role as chief-bucket-getting-operator for the Miami Hurricanes. Watch as he slices through Duke and Cameron Indoor Stadium on two plays, ripping down the building brick by brick on his way to 24 points and a blowout victory of the Blue Devils. The U goes as he goes, and what a way to go. (h/t Mike Rutherford)

Five Big 12 Games You Better Watch This Week

  1. Monday: Texas at TCU (6:00 PM CT, ESPNU)
  2. Monday: Oklahoma at Kansas (8:00 PM CT, ESPN)
  3. Tuesday: Kansas State at Iowa State (6:00 PM CT, ESPN2)
  4. Saturday: Kansas at Texas (1:00 PM CT, CBS)
  5. Saturday: Oklahoma at Baylor (5:00 PM CT, ESPNU)
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