Big 12 Power Rankings: Big 12/SEC Challenge Edition

Posted by Big 12 Team on January 31st, 2017

College basketball’s several interconference challenges are largely the same, but the Big 12 and SEC’s decision to turn theirs into a one-day event smack dab in the middle of conference play is a great way of differentiating itself. Most fans and pundits seem to agree with this opinion, unless, of course, you believe that the Big 12/SEC Challenge should move to December for carefully researched reasons like “just because.” What instead might lead to the challenge’s demise is not when the games are played during the season, but the lack of watchable games provided to the viewers. For example, there is no good explanation for 17-4 South Carolina to be left off this year’s schedule in favor of 10 other SEC teams. And even if it’s understandable that the challenge wants to avoid a number of potential conflicts  — such as Baylor‘s Scott Drew not wanting to play his brother Bryce Drew‘s team at Vanderbilt; Frank Martin having no interest in taking his Gamecocks to Kansas State; Texas tussling with Texas A&M; or Rick Barnes squaring off with the Longhorns — the fans want to see the most compelling match-ups. In any case, a fresh batch of power rankings is ready for your consumption. (caution: do not eat them all at once)

Maybe it was the Yeezys. Whatever it was, Bill Self and Kansas were able to hand Kentucky its second home loss of the season. (Mark Zerof/USA Today Sports)

1. Kansas — all voted 1st – The Jayhawks had not lost back-to-back games since December 10, 2014. The last time Kentucky, on the other hand, had lost consecutive games was just last season, when it fell to Kansas and Tennessee in succession. This year the order was reversed, but the Jayhawks delivered the Wildcats the same fate. If there was any concern about Kansas after its Tuesday night loss to West Virginia, that quickly evaporated with the win at Rupp Arena, where Frank Mason continued to make his case for National Player of the Year.” – Justin Fedich (@jfedich)

2. Baylor — all voted 2nd – “The Bears seem to have lost some steam in the national conversation but they still have one of the five best defenses in the country and the best of the Big 12. Their length inside has held opponents to 43.2 percent shooting on two-pointers in conference play. That’s a recipe for success in this league.” – Chris Stone (@cstonehoops)

3. West Virginia — all voted 3rd – “The Mountaineers are known for their depth in addition to their pressing style, but point guard Jevon Carter has been a workhorse too. The senior is averaging 35 minutes per contest over his last five games, and four of those have been decided by four points or fewer.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

4. Iowa State — all voted 4th – About a year ago, our power rankings listed the Cyclones in the very same fourth place spot. They were in that position because the league’s top four teams played musical chairs in our rankings from week to week. Here in 2017, Iowa State has seemingly cemented fourth place because it isn’t able to make up ground on the top three and the teams behind them aren’t formidable enough to pose a threat. For Steve Prohm‘s team, the job is simple: Break the monotony.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

For Steve Prohm, the job is simple: Break the monotony. (Getty)

5. Kansas State — average: 5.6 – “A late comeback in the first half against West Virginia last week may have saved the Wildcats’ postseason dreams. It is possible that 9-9 in Big 12 play earns them a bid but it is much more likely with three wins against the top three teams. West Virginia is in the books. Kansas State now needs to take care of business Wednesday night against TCU before playing the league’s top four teams in succession.” – Drew Andrews (@DrewAndrews24)

6. Oklahoma State — average: 5.8 – “After dropping their first six Big 12 games by a combined 49 points, the Cowboys have won the last three. Winning streak or not, Jeffrey Carroll has been a source of consistency — the junior has averaged 22.0 points and made 13-of-20 threes over his last six games.” – NK

7. Texas Tech — average 6.6 – “The Red Raiders picked up an excellent win over West Virginia early in conference play and came close to getting a second on the road in Waco last week. Still, the team looks like it’s just not quite good enough to crack the top half of the league standings this season.” – CS

8. TCU — all voted 8th – “With four straight losses, the Horned Frogs have crashed back to earth after an encouraging start to Big 12 play. TCU needs to be better on the road, where a three-point victory over Texas represents their only success away from Fort Worth.” – JF

9. Texas — all voted 9th – “Texas played a tough game against a solid Georgia team but the Longhorns continued their inability to finish close games. Shaka Smart‘s club will not play any of Kansas, Baylor or West Virginia in the next six games, so a 3-3 record over that stretch could build some excitement about the future of this very young team.” – DA

10. Oklahoma — all voted 10th – “There’s no shame in losing to Florida, but there is quite a bit of shame in losing to Florida at home by 32 points, marking the most lopsided defeat in Norman in 95 years. Jordan Woodard, whose return from injury was supposed to salvage some respectability for the Sooners, went 0-of-7 from the floor, turned the ball over three times and failed to notch a single assist, steal, rebound or free throw attempt.” – BG

Big 12 Video/GIF of the Week 

While Kansas visiting Kentucky grabbed most of our attention, Baylor pulled off yet another second half comeback against Ole Miss. This long three-pointer from Manu Lecomte late in the game proved to be the game-winner. Baylor’s best start in program history continues at 20-1.

Five Big 12 Games To Watch

  1. Tuesday: West Virginia at Iowa State (8:00 CT, ESPN2)
  2. Wednesday: Baylor at Kansas (8:00 CT, ESPN2)
  3. Saturday: Iowa State at Kansas (1:00 CT, ESPN)
  4. Saturday: Kansas State at Baylor (2:00 CT, ESPNEWS)
  5. Saturday: Oklahoma State at West Virginia (4:00 CT, ESPNU)
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