With a couple of weeks of games in the books, we can start getting a good gauge on Big 12 teams this season — not a great gauge this early, but good enough. The three Big 12 writers — myself, Danny, and Nate — will publish our conference power rankings every week. While a team that loses usually drops a few slots in the AP or Coaches Top 25 poll, that might not be the case here. The best teams (in our opinion at least) up until that point in the season will be on top. But don’t expect things to remain stagnant with this group of teams. There aren’t many guarantees other than TCU being pretty bad. Each of our top 10’s will be averaged out with any ties going to the higher ranked KenPom team. We’ll also try to mix it up a bit each week with a theme facing each team — this time around, we examine a player stepping up for each squad, someone who maybe wasn’t expected to shoulder as much of the load as he’s done so far this season.
1) Oklahoma State (5-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 6
Last Week: W 81-51 vs. Portland State
This Week: Saturday @ Virginia Tech, 2:00 PM CST
- Rundown: With the return of sophomore guard Le’Bryan Nash and the introduction of freshman point guard and former five-star recruit Marcus Smart, the Cowboys are 5-0 with an impressive upset of then No. 6 North Carolina State on November 18. It’s enough for them to begin the season atop the list.
- A Player Stepping Up: Junior G Markel Brown: Brown has been a nice complement to the underclassmen duo of Nash and Smart through five games this season. He’s averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG including a season-high 23 points on opening night against Portland State.
2) Kansas (5-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: W 78-41 vs. Washington State, W 73-59 vs. Saint Louis
This Week: W 70-57 vs San Jose State, Friday vs. Oregon State, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: The Jayhawks should have beaten Michigan State a few weeks ago but struggled down the stretch, eventually losing, 67-64. They’ve also looked less than impressive at times against subpar competition at home. Southeast Missouri State got within striking distance in the second half, Chattanooga held an eight-point halftime lead, and San Jose State lost by only 13 on Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse. Bill Self will have this group improved by conference play, but for now, they’re going to continue to be inconsistent while the freshmen get acclimated.
- A Player Stepping Up: Senior G Travis Releford: The senior guard was named Big 12 Player of the Week last week after averaging 20 points in wins over Washington State and Saint Louis in the CBE Classic. Never a true first or second option on offense, Releford is Bill Self’s go-to defender on the perimeter and he’s a nearly automatic in transition.