The top of the Big 12 is unchanged this week, as Kansas and Oklahoma State extended their winning streaks to seven and three games, respectively. The rest of the conference is still a cluster, however, and two teams who were supposed to challenge for the conference title — West Virginia and Texas — did nothing this week to silence their critics. Kansas State and West Virginia were the only Big 12 schools to play anyone of note this past week, and both teams lost convincingly. The Big 12 isn’t getting any better. With only a few weeks left in the non-conference schedule, teams are running out of time to prove themselves as NCAA Tournament prospects.
1) Kansas (8-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: W 89-60 vs. Belmont
This Week: Tuesday vs. Richmond, 6:00 PM CST, Saturday at Ohio State, 3:00 PM
- Rundown: Kansas continues to win after losing its only game of the season over a month ago to Michigan State. They’ve won six of their last seven games by at least 13 points and have set up a great top 10 match-up on Saturday against Ohio State in Columbus, whom the Jayhawks beat twice last season (once in Lawrence and again in the Final Four).
- Reason to be Optimistic: Freshman guard Ben McLemore is as good as people thought he could be, leading the team with 16.1 PPG. He is shooting up NBA Mock Drafts and it’s becoming clear that this will be his only season in Lawrence. His ability to take over a game offensively makes the Jayhawks legitimate Final Four contenders just a month after the team faced plenty of personnel questions.
2) Oklahoma State (8-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: W 91-63 vs. Central Arkansas
This Week: Wednesday vs. Texas-Arlington, 7:00 PM, Saturday vs.Tennessee Tech, 12:00 PM
- Rundown: Last week’s win over Central Arkansas didn’t help the Cowboys in the weekly polls or this week’s power rankings, but they continue to pile up wins leading up to the New Year’s Eve home game against Gonzaga. This week’s action should be another pair of scrimmages.
- Reason to be Optimistic: Outside of the 10-point loss to Virginia Tech, the Cowboys have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat. That sounds simple enough, but too many teams lose focus some nights and drop head-scratching games this time of year. It will pay off come Selection Sunday.
3) Baylor (7-3, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 4
Last Week: W 85-68 vs. Lamar, W 73-57 vs. South Carolina-Upstate
This Week: Friday vs. BYU, 8:00 PM
- Rundown: Baylor is back in the No. 3 spot this week, mostly by default. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson is still playing like a conference player of the year, averaging 19.3 PPG and 6.0 APG through 10 games. The offense is averaging 76.7 PPG but its been slowed down in each of the Bears’ three losses, when they scored just 62.3 PPG.
- Reason to be Optimistic: Like Kansas, Baylor is getting significant contributions from one of its highly touted freshmen. 7″1′ center Isaiah Austin is averaging 13.9 PPG and 8.6 RPG this season.