Big 12 Power Rankings: It’s Happening Again Edition

Posted by Big 12 Team on January 20th, 2017

Kansas had a big night on Wednesday and the Jayhawks didn’t even play. Despite being favored by 17 points, West Virginia lost in stunning fashion to Oklahoma, done in by a few clutch plays from Jordan Woodard. The loss dropped the Mountaineers two games behind the Jayhawks in the Big 12 standings, and with Kansas set to play Texas at home on Saturday while West Virginia travels to Kansas State, the deficit could grow even deeper before the pair square off in Morgantown on Tuesday. Whether they beat the Wildcats or not, West Virginia could theoretically climb back into the race by notching wins against its peers in the upper third of the conference, but Wednesday’s loss underscores the importance of winning at home when it comes to contending for the Big 12 title. For now, the focus shifts back to Baylor, which is set to take on a tough TCU team in Fort Worth this weekend. The Bears will be favored, but not by more than a few points, which means the wheels could be in motion for Kansas to create some serious distance in its pursuit of consecutive regular season title #13. With comments on each team are Big 12 microsite writers Drew Andrews, Justin Fedich, Brian Goodman, Nate Kotisso, and Chris Stone.

1. Kansas: “The Jayhawks are unblemished in league play because they’re one of the best teams in America. They’re led by a National Player of the Year candidate, they have a likely one-and-done lottery pick who is asked to do a lot, but not too much, and they’re coached by one of the best in the profession. It’s tough to beat that combination. But another reason why Kansas is currently 6-0 in league play is because they’ve had the league’s second-easiest conference schedule to this point. That’s about to change very soon, however. After Saturday’s game against Texas, the Jayhawks travel to Morgantown, take a break from Big 12 play by playing Kentucky at Rupp Arena, then resume conference action with home games against Baylor and Iowa State. This team will ultimately be defined by what it does in March, but if they beat the odds to make it through the rest of January unscathed, it may be time to start thinking about this season as one of Bill Self‘s best ever.” -Brian Goodman

2. Baylor: “In case you’ve missed it, forward Johnathan Motley is making a case to be an All-American as a junior. His latest outing — 32 points and 20 rebounds against Texas — is just the second time this season that a Division I player has posted a 30/20. The other? Potential Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan.” -Chris Stone

3. West Virginia: “West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma at home took some luster off next week’s match-up against the Jayhawks, but this is still a very good West Virginia team. The Sooners were able to handle the press as well as could be asked with just 12 turnovers, and it still took overtime to pull off the upset. Thirteen Mountaineers are getting more than 10 percent of the team’s minutes so it will be interesting to see if Bob Huggins shrinks the bench as the season moves along.” -Drew Andrews

4. Kansas State: “The Wildcats are slowly working their way into one of those weird spaces where you having two conflicting feelings at the same time. Everyone knows a team like this. The first feeling is: “I can see they have improved a good deal.” The other feeling is: “Why hasn’t that improvement been on display against quality opponents?” Kansas State might be relieved it is 3-3 through six Big 12 games, but those three wins came against the bottom three teams in the conference. Fortunately, the Wildcats host the Mountaineers in The Octagon this Saturday. It’s time to make a statement.” -Nate Kotisso

DJ Johnson and Kansas State aim to notch their first consecutive conference wins since February 2015. (David Zalubowski/AP)

5. Texas Tech: “The Red Raiders already have a trio of impressive conference wins against West Virginia, Kansas State and TCU. However, all of those victories came at home and they are winless on the road against a mixed bag of teams. If they can catch Baylor napping next week, a win there would go a long way toward a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.” -DA

6. Iowa State: “Back-to-back losses to TCU and Kansas shouldn’t derail a Cyclones team that has proven to be a top-half team in the Big 12. Iowa State has four players averaging double figures and Monte’ Morris already has 100 assists on the season against only 19 turnovers.” -Justin Fedich

7. TCU: “Johnathan Motley, Landen Lucas and Jarrett Allen get most of the publicity when it comes to Big 12 big men, but don’t let Horned Frogs center Vladimir Brodziansky get lost in the shuffle. In fact, he may be the best of the bunch — at the very least, he’s been the most efficient. The junior from Slovakia ranks among the top 20 nationally in KenPom’s offensive rating metric at 137.6 and has already carved up Kansas (28 points, nine rebounds and three blocks), Iowa State (25/14/3) and Texas Tech (22/6/5), among others. If TCU goes dancing for the first time since “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” topped the Billboard Hot 100, he’ll be a big reason why.” -BG

8. Oklahoma: “Beating Texas Tech at home and West Virginia on the road is an excellent week for any Big 12 team. Jordan Woodard returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Kansas and averaged 23.5 points per game in the two wins. There may not be a player in the conference who is more important at an individual level than Woodard is to the Sooners. With the senior on the court this season, Oklahoma is outscoring opponents by 17 points per 100 possessions, according to Hoop Lens. With Woodard on the bench, they’re 19 points worse than their opponents.” -CS

9. Texas: “Despite Johnathan Motley eating your front line alive, it should be pointed out that the combination of Shaq Cleare and Jarrett Allen combined for 31 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks versus Baylor on Tuesday night. That’s… still… good, right?” -NK

10. Oklahoma State: “The intriguing part of the Big 12 this season is that even the worst teams in the conference aren’t all that bad. Oklahoma State led Kansas through most of last Saturday’s game in Lawrence, but it’s hard to overlook an 0-6 start to conference play that has the Cowboys gasping for air in the NCAA Tournament race.” -JF

Bonus Ball

As mentioned by our Chris Stone above, Baylor forward Johnathan Motley torched the Longhorns on Wednesday in one of the best single-game performances by a big man in college basketball this season. His momentous night didn’t register nationally in large part because of how hard Texas has fallen, but it is not to be missed. Take a look.

Five Big 12 Games To Watch:

  1. Saturday: Baylor at TCU (8:00 ET, ESPNU)
  2. Saturday: West Virginia at Kansas State (6:00 ET, ESPNU)
  3. Tuesday: Kansas at West Virginia (7:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  4. Tuesday: Iowa State at Kansas State (9:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  5. Wednesday: Texas Tech at Baylor (8:00 ET, ESPNEWS)
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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