Big 12 Power Rankings: Say a Prayer for the Sooners Edition

Posted by Big 12 Team on February 14th, 2017

There wasn’t any question what the college basketball world thought about Oklahoma a season ago. The Sooners were led by a likable All-American who was surrounded by a group of teammates that had played more than 100 consecutive games together. Even after a blowout Final Four loss to Villanova ended their season, conventional wisdom was that one poor performance wouldn’t diminish the tremendous gains and relentlessly bright future the program had ahead of it. Unfortunately, this season has made last year feel like the tail end of the Jeff Capel era. The returnees and freshmen have failed to mesh in any meaningful way, resulting in two seven-game losing streaks and looking like a finish in the Big 12 cellar is imminent. With leading scorer Jordan Woodard out for the rest of the season with a career-ending ACL injury, what seemed like an achievable 600 win threshold for Lon Kruger this season is increasingly looking like an impossibility. One bad season among several very good ones will not tarnish Oklahoma basketball in the long run, but it represents a reminder to those on the outside that no one is immune to a bad year every once in a while. This week’s power rankings are right after this goofy picture of Kruger.

Lon Kruger is two wins away from notching 600 wins as a collegiate head coach. The question is: will his wounded Sooners win two with a month left in the season? (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • 1. Kansas — all voted 1st – “Aside from a few down games which should be expected of any high-major college player, Josh Jackson has lived up to the hype. In the seven games prior to an average outing against West Virginia (14 points, 11 rebounds, six turnovers) last night, though, he averaged 20.6 points on 56.3 percent shooting (53.6% 3FG), along with 7.6 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per contest. Kansas’ depth issues have led to some recent second-half struggles, but the Jayhawks’ freshman phenom is the primary reason the Jayhawks have been able to overcome them.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)
  • 2. Baylor — all voted 2nd – “Kansas has made a living in the Big 12 historically with its outstanding interior defense, and now Baylor is doing the same thing. Opponents have made just 44.5 percent of their twos against the Bears in conference play this season, with the next best mark Kansas and Oklahoma’s tie at 47.5 percent. Jo Lual-Acuil and Johnathan Motley have combined to make Baylor a realistic competitor even when its offense struggles.” – Chris Stone (@cstonehoops)
  • 3. West Virginia — all voted 3rd – “Per KenPom, West Virginia owns the seventh-best defense and 10th-best offense in college basketball. Despite a heart-breaking overtime loss in Allen Fieldhouse last night, the Mountaineers are still in contention for a top-two NCAA Tournament seed if they can finish strong in their last five games.” – Drew Andrews (@DrewAndrews24)

  • 4. Iowa State — all voted 4th – “The Cyclones haven’t been an easy team to figure out this season, e.g., going on the road to beat Kansas and then falling to Texas a few days later. If Iowa State can continue to win just as many games it should win as it does lose the games it shouldn’t lose, the Cyclones should be on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.” – Justin Fedich (@jfedich)
  • 5. Oklahoma State — average: 5.2 – “Oklahoma State has a strangely realistic shot at winning the next four games on its Big 12 schedule. What’s even stranger is that TCU appears to be the strongest opponent of the four. If the Cowboys can win at least three of the four, my estimation of Brad Underwood‘s job this season will have gone as follows: Underestimating Underwood; Not Underestimating Underwood; Underestimating Underwood again; and back to Not Underestimating Underwood. [gasps for breath].” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)
  • 6. Kansas State — average: 5.8 – “After starting 4-3 in Big 12 play, the Wildcats have gone just 1-4 over their last five. That win, however, came against Baylor on the road. Following a close loss at Kansas last week, Kansas State could not build from a hot start in Morgantown and suffered its most lopsided loss of the season.” – DA
  • 7. Texas Christian — average: 7.6 (tie) – “Winners of three of their last four, the Horned Frogs are gathering some steam for the home stretch. Jamie Dixon‘s team still has three games left against teams in the top 50 (Oklahoma State, Kansas and West Virginia), so the door on this season isn’t closed just yet. The way in which TCU finishes out will play a big role in whether the conference again sends seven teams to the Big Dance.” – BG
  • 7. Texas Tech — average: 7.6 (tie) – “At the moment, I’m not buying the Red Raiders as the seventh-best team in the Big 12 or an NCAA Tournament team. Their non-conference portfolio is paper thin, filled with easy wins and a few near-disasters. Their win against West Virginia might as well have happened in December because it is a very distant memory. They share a 4-8 conference record with Texas, a team they lost to earlier this month. Whatever good faith they had around New Year’s is long gone. It’s beyond time for this team to shape up.” – NK
  • 9. Texas — average: 8.8 – “Shaka Smart needs to win out in order to avoid the first losing season in his head coaching career. For a team that hasn’t won consecutive games in nearly three months, I wouldn’t bet on it.” – JF
  • 10. Oklahoma — all voted 10th – “I repeat: Jordan Woodard deserves better than this.” – CS

Big 12 Video/GIF of the Week

In addition to his duties as a college student, Kansas freshman Josh Jackson is the owner and sole employee of a little known rim-checking business that requires him to jump over folks in order to examine its sturdiness at regular intervals. He isn’t able to turn a profit on the enterprise right now, but early projections are that Jackson’s fortunes will change for the better in about four months. Enjoy some of the superstar freshman’s televised work from Saturday afternoon.

Four Big 12 Games To Watch

  1. Wednesday: Iowa State at Kansas State (6:00 PM CT, ESPN2)
  2. Wednesday: Oklahoma State at Texas Christian (8:00 PM CT, ESPNU)
  3.  Saturday: Kansas at Baylor (12:00 PM CT, CBS)
  4.  Saturday: Texas Christian at Iowa State (5:00 PM CT, ESPNews)
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