Big 12 Power Rankings: It’s Practically March Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 26th, 2016

It is practically March, isn’t it? We’re just four days away. You can almost feel the bubble shrink as at-large hopefuls drop games they shouldn’t be dropping and simultaneously expand whenever a recent winning streak is validated with a big win. As of now, the Big 12’s bubble situation is relatively clear. Barring a flurry of wins from Kansas State within the next two weeks, the conference will send seven teams to the NCAA Tournament. The last team among the seven is Texas Tech. When Big 12 coaches picked them to finish 10th a few months ago, how could anyone have seen this coming?



Texas Tech has eight conference wins at this point which bodes well with how the selection committee has historically treated eight-win Big 12 teams. Oklahoma State (twice) and Texas (once) made it safely into the field of 68 with that number in 2014 and 2015. Much has been written about the Red Raiders’ rise from rotten to respectable, and rightly so, but we shouldn’t forget that they’ve gone on this five-game winning streak without the services of starting center Norense OdiaseTubby Smith is the favorite for Big 12 Coach of the Year and is also creeping into National Coach of the Year discussions as well. Now let’s hope all seven clubs make it to the Sweet Sixteen.

Big 12 Power Rankings

  1. Kansas — 3 points (All voted 1st). Comment: “After a prolonged stretch of shakiness from Frank Mason following the triple-overtime classic against Oklahoma, the Jayhawks appear to have the the best version of their point guard back. Over Mason’s last five games (including three road wins), he’s averaged 15.4 points per game while shooting 40 percent from distance. Dishing out 19 assists against just four turnovers over that stretch as well, Mason is providing the quality backcourt play the Jayhawks need in order to make a deep Tournament run.” – Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman)
  2. Oklahoma — 6 points (All voted 2nd). Comment: On the most recent edition of NBCSports’ College Basketball Talk Podcast, Brian Snow of joined Rob Dauster to discuss why all of the best teams in college basketball suck. The Sooners’ inability to score inside was raised as their major issue and its one that’s borne out by the statistics. Oklahoma’s scored just 43.1 percent of its points inside the arc this season, a number that ranks 332nd out of 351 Division I teams, and before Wednesday’s 26-point outburst by Ryan Spangler, it had been nearly three weeks since either Spangler or frontcourt mate Khadeem Lattin had scored in double figures. While we know jump shooting teams can win NBA titles where they’re allowed several slip-ups in a seven-game series, the question for the Sooners is whether its offense can hold up over six single-elimination contests in March.” – Chris Stone (@cstonehoops)
  3. West Virginia — 9 points (All voted 3rd). Comment: “If Tubby isn’t doing Tubby things in Lubbock, Bob Huggins would have a pretty good case for a second consecutive Big 12 Coach of the Year award. Huggins’ Mountaineers were picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll and are currently tied for second in the Big 12. Then again, he’s won 786 games in his career so overachieving preseason expectations should be an expectation.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)
  4. Baylor — 14 points (Chris & Nate — 4th, Brian — 6th). Comment: “Baylor’s offense is really, really good. The Bears’ adjusted offensive efficiency ranks among the top 10 nationally, but it’s been their defense that’s held them back this season. While Baylor’s 1-3-1 zone has done a good job at creating turnovers, opponents are shooting nearly 45 percent from the field against them this season. Notably, opponents have been able to move the ball against the zone, assisting on 74.3 percent of their shots, the highest such assist percentage allowed in the country. The next closest? Syracuse at 67.1 percent.” – CS
  5. Texas — 15 points (All voted 5th). Comment: “The Longhorns are another team playing for seeding, but they have two huge opportunities in front of them before the postseason gears up. Shaka Smart‘s team wraps up conference play with back-to-back home games against Oklahoma and Kansas before facing Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Something tells me this team isn’t done making noise.” – BG
  6. Iowa State — 17 points (Brian — 4th, Chris — 6th, Nate — 7th). Comment: “Iowa State had a players-only meeting to work on chemistry issues a week ago but the Cyclones have still given up an average of 93.3 points per game in their last three outings. Monte’ Morris finished the West Virginia game hobbled which slowed the offense down enough for the Mountaineers to pull away. I don’t think any of us thought the Cyclones would be coming apart in late February… and yet, there’s still time to fix it.” – NK
  7. Texas Tech — 20 points (Nate — 6th, Brian & Chris — 7th). Comment: “The Red Raiders’ current hot streak has them dancing with plenty of room to spare and Bill Self advocating for Tubby Smith to capture Coach of the Year Honors. Speaking of Self and Tubby, Texas Tech is the only Big 12 team other than Kansas to win five straight league games this season.” – BG
  8. Kansas State — 24 points (All voted 8th). Comment: “The argument can be made that Kansas State’s at-large hopes have hinged on four games. Those games include two losses to Texas and one loss to West Virginia and Oklahoma State each. The Wildcats dropped these games by a combined 11 points, and if they had turned out differently, they would have been 19-9 overall with an 8-7 league record (instead of 15-13 and 4-11). The encouraging thing is that Bruce Weber‘s team has seven freshmen on the roster and there is a strong possibility that Wesley Iwundu could return for his senior season. They’ve overachieved this season but that doesn’t make those particular losses any less painful.” – NK
  9. Oklahoma State — 27 points (All voted 9th). Comment: “Can we please have Jawun Evans back? This team was much more fun with Evans on the floor. Unfortunately it looks like his shoulder injury will keep him out for the remainder of the season. Oh what could have been had Evans and Phil Forte been able to share the back court in Stillwater this year.” – CS
  10. Texas Christian — 30 points (All voted 10th). Comment: “Sophomore Chauncey Collins has won just six conference games in his two seasons with the Horned Frogs, but if that has him down, his recent play on the court isn’t reflecting it. The 6’0″ guard is averaging 18 points per game while shooting 36.3 percent from deep over his last three games, while committing just four turnovers over that span.” – BG

Big 12 Video/GIF of the Week

I know this phrase has been thrown around too much and has lost a lot of its luster in the process, but this time it’s true: History was made on Tuesday night. Kansas was in the process of beating Baylor in Waco but not before a moment you’ll tell your children and grandchildren about. As the first half was ending, forward/real-life Pokemon Rico Gathers chucked up a desperation three-pointer — his first three-point attempt in four seasons — and it was all net. Gathers celebrated by chest-bumping a Baylor fan in the tunnel. The chest bump did not go well for one of those people. (h/t @ESPNCBB on Vine)

Five Big 12 Games You Should Watch This Week

  • Saturday: Texas Tech at Kansas (11:00 AM CT, ESPN)
  • Saturday: Oklahoma at Texas (1:00 PM CT, CBS)
  • Saturday: Kansas State at Iowa State (5:00 PM CT, ESPN2)
  • Monday: Kansas at Texas (8:00 PM CT, ESPN)
  • Tuesday: Baylor at Oklahoma (7:00 PM CT, ESPN2)
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