Big 12 M5: 02.13.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 13th, 2014

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  1. Without any official update on center Joel Embiid‘s status for Saturday’s game between Kansas and TCU, Benton Smith of The Lawrence Journal-World discussed how the Jayhawks might utilize their lineup to make up for Embiid’s absence. While Kansas doesn’t have anyone with Embiid’s combination of shot-blocking ability and creativity in the paint on offense, they certainly have the tools to compensate at the end of the day. With tilts against TCU and Texas Tech in the near future, the Jayhawks should be able to get by, but Andrew Wiggins needs to continue to be aggressive and hunt buckets.
  2. The student-run Iowa State Daily has a terrific feature on guard Monte Morris. If you click the link, you’ll learn how the freshman guard came into contact with a Big Ten coaching legend at the ripe age of ten and went on to grow into a role as a confident, vocal leader in high school. Looking back, it’s not hard at all to see what inspired Fred Hoiberg to plug Morris into his starting lineup a couple weeks ago (beyond his’ microscopic turnover numbers, we mean).
  3. If you’re still wondering how West Virginia was able to hold a potent Iowa State team to 1.03 points per possession on Monday night, don’t ask the Mountaineers, because they are not sure either. If you ask us, though, holding Melvin Ejim to six points on 1-9 shooting would be a good place to start. Even though the “organized chaos” approach worked on Monday, it would be advisable for the Mountaineers to have a more cohesive idea of what they’re doing on defense as they head into a three-game stretch where they’ll face Texas and Baylor before making the return trip to Ames.
  4. At this point in the season, it’s a pretty good bet that the Big 12 will get at least five teams into the NCAA Tournament. Four of those squads (Kansas, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State) are confident plays. Beyond them, though, it’s anyone’s guess, because the Big 12′s bubble situation grew even foggier on Wednesday night as Oklahoma was upset by Texas Tech in Norman. The Sooners have now lost three of their last four games after winning four in a row, but while their tournament chances aren’t in serious danger, they could ultimately look back on Wednesday’s game as one that costs them, whether it’s from the perspective of being in or out or a couple spots on the seed line. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders may not have the firepower to knock off any of the conference’s heavy hitters just yet, but at 5-6 in the Big 12, Tubby Smith is definitely up to something in Lubbock.
  5. It’s been another confounding year for Baylor, but as most Big 12 teams have done this season, they took their frustrations out on TCU with an easy win. The Bears laid waste to the Horned Frogs in a 91-58 blowout, paced by Brady Heslip’s eight three-pointers, which tied a personal career high. As if that weren’t enough, the Bears hit eight other threes, including two each from Gary Franklin and Royce O’Neal. Don’t expect it to last, however; The Bears will be in for a heat check on Saturday when they face a top-15 defense in Kansas State.
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Rush The Weekend: West Virginia Enters a Crucial Stretch

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 7th, 2014

There’s been no shortage of intrigue in the Big 12 this season. Whether you want to discuss Kansas’ future lottery picks and national title hopes, Texas’ resurrection, Baylor’s free-fall, Oklahoma State’s dive, or the resilience of Iowa State, you don’t have to look very far to find any of the nation’s biggest stories in college hoops; you could just look at this conference. But if all of those plot lines aren’t enough for you, yet another Big 12 team could muscle itself into the fray this weekend: the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Can Juwan Staten lead the Mountaineers back into tournament discussion? (AP Photo/Andrew Ferguson)

Will Juwan Staten lead the Mountaineers back into tournament discussion? (Andrew Ferguson/AP)

When Bob Huggins’ team wrapped up non-conference play back on December 29, it had very little to write home about. A handful of wins over bad teams kept them afloat, but there was no NCAA Tournament resume to speak of because of losses to the only relevant teams on their slate (Wisconsin, Missouri, Gonzaga, Purdue and Virginia Tech). Those defeats put them on the ropes earlier than many expected, and to boot, they dropped four of those games by seven points or less. When the calendar turned, they had a resume that was considerably worse than their statistical profile, which is something that you don’t see very often.

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Big 12 M5: 01.24.14 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on January 24th, 2014

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  1. As Bill Self points out and Jesse Newell of the Topeka Capital-Journal expands upon hereKansas has one of the best offenses in the country but there is still room for improvement. “Although[the offense] has been good, it hasn’t been like what it can be, and so I’m not too excited,” Self told Newell recently. Self is right. The Jayhawks were going to have a really good offense this season because Self is one of the best coaches in the country and the roster is stacked with future pros, but turnovers could be their downfall in March.
  2. Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Johnson has a good piece about Texas head coach Rick Barnes and the defense his team has been playing this season. It has kept them in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid and cooled the seat Barnes was sitting on. As Johnson points out, the Longhorns are allowing just 0.81 points per possession in their halfcourt defense this season. They don’t have enough offensive firepower to consistently outscore teams, but they can hang with anybody in the league with a defense like that.
  3. We may be getting closer to a resolution in the twisting, turning saga of Bubu Palo and the school’s efforts to keep him off the team. The Iowa Supreme Court has denied the Board of Regents’ request for an immediate stay on a ruling that reinstated Palo to the Cyclones while an appeal with the district court is settled. The details are somewhat complicated, but this latest development means that for now, Palo is formally a member of the team. It’s worth pointing out that head coach Fred Hoiberg is under no obligation to work him back into Iowa State’s plans, even as the team has suffered a funk of late. Still, while Palo isn’t considered a dynamic player on the court, the evolution of his case could mean big things in determining whether membership on a college sports team is a privilege or a right, and which entities have the authority to make such a determination.
  4. Videos of seldom-used players messing around in their gyms and hitting trick shots aren’t anything new, but Oklahoma walk-on James Fraschilla brings something different to the table. Fraschilla brings in a few special guests for his latest clip, including teammate Ryan Spangler and Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight. Most importantly, Fraschilla wraps up the video with a suggestion that viewers contribute to Hayden’s Hope, a charity started by ESPN personality Dari Nowkah which raises awareness for pediatric organ donation. It’s always nice to see students doing good, and we definitely encourage our readers to check out the video for yourself and give whatever you can to the cause.
  5. As the adage goes, shooters are gonna shoot. That was the key for Terry Henderson, who helped West Virginia snap a three-game losing skid on Wednesday by scoring 28 points to escape against Texas Tech. The Mountaineers will look for Henderson to bring the hot hand with him to Stillwater when West Virginia takes on Oklahoma State tomorrow afternoon. WVU needs a marquee win in the worst way, and Henderson will need his teammates just as much as they need him.
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Big 12 M5: 01.22.14 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on January 22nd, 2014

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  1. It’s true that Kansas has enough talent to win the national championship with subpar point guard play, but accomplishing such a feat would be really, really difficult. There are future NBA lottery picks all over the court for the Jayhawks, but junior point guard Naadir Tharpe may be more important than all of them come March. “The guys are looking to him as kind of a rock out there,” head coach Bill Self recently told Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. “Which maybe we weren’t doing early in the season. He’s getting his point across.” If Tharpe can sustain his recent steady play, it will go a long way towards Kansas making another deep tournament run.
  2. As John Shinn of the Tahlequa Daily Press points out, Oklahoma’s defense has picked up lately and it is showing in the win column. As an example, the Sooners gave up just 64 points in a two-point win over Baylor last Saturday. Oklahoma is 3-2 in the Big 12, and while the Sooners don’t look to be contenders for the conference regular season title, continued defensive intensity could give them a chance to win a game or two in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
  3. After losing three straight games over the course of a week-plus, the Iowa State players decided to have a good ol’ fashioned players-only meeting on Saturday. “It was just going over some film from the last couple games, seeing what we’ve been doing wrong and what we can actually work on as a unit,” Georges Niang told Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register. The schedule doesn’t ease up anytime soon, however, as the Cyclones’ next four games are against Kansas State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
  4. It’s hard to argue with David Ubben of FoxSports.com about his piece on Marcus Smart earning a reputation as a flopper. Smart likes to flop. He loves to flop, actually. And as Ubben points out, he is too talented to flop. Flopping is for players who don’t otherwise have the skills to stay on the court. Smart is a lottery pick, but he looks ridiculous feigning that he was fouled excessively. After Wayne Selden’s phantom elbow to the face was scrutinized with the repetition of the Zapruder film, it will be interesting to see whether officials crack down on Smart’s acting jobs.
  5. Before the start of the 2011-12 season, Bob Huggins was asked about all the potential travel nightmares in the Big 12. The closest road trip in conference play was to Iowa State, a cool 871 miles away. Now, it’s not certain that those road trips (or more accurately, long jet trips) have affected the Mountaineers in a season and a half in the Big 12, but they have certainly struggled. This season, they have beaten TCU and Texas Tech but are a paltry 0-3 against the rest of the conference, and their tournament hopes appear to rest on making a surprise run through the Big 12 Tournament.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: The Schedule Gauntlet Continues

Posted by Taylor Erickson on January 21st, 2014

Another week goes by in the gauntlet that is the Big 12, as the league strives to establish its claim as the top conference in all of college basketball with six spots in the latest AP poll. Kansas continues to play very well, having navigated its incredibly difficult stretch to begin conference play unscathed, and managing to build a two-game lead on every team other than Kansas State. Speaking of the Wildcats, with road games at Texas and Iowa State this week, we’ll soon have a much better idea of how legitimate Bruce Weber’s squad really is. Iowa State has stumbled after a strong start, and unfortunately its schedule won’t be any easier with its next four games coming against ranked teams. The middle of the league continues to look like a logjam, with four schools – Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas – all ranked between 39th and 44th by Ken Pomeroy.

After dropping three in a row, Naz Long and Iowa State are left searching for answers.

After dropping three in a row, Naz Long and Iowa State are left searching for answers.

Here’s a look at how our Big 12 contributors - Kory CarpenterBrian Goodman, and Taylor Erickson - rank each school heading into the third full week of conference play.

1. Kansas — 3 points (previous: 1st; Brian-1st, Kory-1st, Taylor-1st)

Comment: “Bill Self’s team hasn’t taken very good care of the ball in its last three games, but you always prefer to learn those lessons while winning, as the Jayhawks have. If Kansas puts it all together — and chances are they will — look out.” – Brian Goodman

2. Oklahoma State — 6 points (previous: 3rd; Brian-2nd, Kory-2nd, Taylor-2nd)

Comment: “Yes, they lost to Kansas State, but the Cowboys are a better team and have a higher ceiling than the Wildcats. Their second half against Kansas Saturday showed us they can play with anyone in spurts.” – Kory Carpenter

3. (Tie) Iowa State — 11 points (previous: 2nd; Brian-3rd, Kory-5th, Taylor-3rd)

Comment: “The Cyclones are reeling after dropping three in a row, learning life on the road in the Big 12 is brutal. They have a full week off before taking on Kansas State at home next weekend. A dose of Hilton Coliseum might be exactly what is needed to get DeAndre Kane and company back on track.” – Taylor Erickson

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Big 12 M5: 01.21.14 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on January 21st, 2014

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  1. Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal has a good stat here about how well the Kansas State defense has played recently. The Wildcats are 14-4 overall, 4-1 in Big 12 play, and are #22 in the national rankings after beating West Virginia by 22 points on Saturday. Head coach Bruce Weber probably summed it up best when he told Corbitt: “If you guard people, it gives you a chance to win.”
  2. Last season wasn’t a fluke for West Virginia, it seems. The Mountaineers are firmly in the Big 12 cellar with Texas Tech and TCU after losing their last three games. They are 10-8 on the season and haven’t beaten anyone of note, unless you count the two aforementioned teams. Other than that, West Virginia is 0-7 against power conference schools this season.
  3. There is a reason Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith is considered a pretty good coach. His Red Raiders knocked off a ranked Baylor squad last week and have a decent chance to even up their Big 12 record at 3-3 on Wednesday when they travel to West Virginia. “We haven’t always played with the intelligence we should,” Smith told Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News. “But the majority of them have been through things, and the experience of playing in the Big 12 has been a big help.”
  4. Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid went from an unknown player from Cameroon to the potential No. 1 overall pick in next summer’s NBA Draft in the span of about 12 months. Even Self, who told Embiid he would be the top pick one day, didn’t think it would be so soon. “You’re going to be the No. 1 pick,” Self told Embiid (courtesy of Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star) “Now, it may not be this year, but you will be a No. 1 pick.” Self is right. It may not be this year. But don’t bet against it at this point. Embiid contributed 12 points, four rebounds, and a block in last night’s 78-68 win over Baylor. 
  5. If Oklahoma wants to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament and make a run in March, freshman guard Jordan Woodard playing well would go a long way toward that goal. As Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman points out, Woodard had a four to one assist-to-turnover ratio in the Sooners’ 66-64 win over Baylor on Saturday. “I think he knows that we have confidence in him,” sophomore forward Ryan Spangler told Aber.
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Big 12 M5: 01.17.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 17th, 2014

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  1. One story flying slightly under the radar has been the saga of Iowa State guard Bubu Palo, and boy is it complicated. Everything started in September 2012, when Palo was charged with second-degree sexual abuse stemming from an incident earlier that year. At that time, he was suspended from the team, but when the charges were dropped last January, Palo was reinstated and played in the team’s final 17 games. At the time of the original charge, a complaint was also filed in ISU’s Office of Judicial Affairs, but that was dropped in April 2013. ISU President Steven Leath then overturned the decision, however, and Palo was dismissed from the team. Ever since Leath’s overruling, Palo and his attorney have fought for his reinstatement, and on Thursday, a Webster County judge lifted the sanction against Palo, ostensibly paving the way for his return to the team. As you can probably tell, though, Iowa State’s brass from Leath to AD Jamie Pollard to head coach Fred Hoiberg are not pleased with the judge’s decision. Technically, Palo is now a member of the Cyclones, but he won’t be accompanying the team on its road trip to Texas this weekend. It’s hard to picture the whole situation being anything but horribly awkward.
  2. Tomorrow, Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State return to the scene of last season’s win at Allen Fieldhouse. We’ll have more coverage on the Big 12′s marquee match-up later today, but suffice it to say that it’s a big one for the Cowboys and their chances of dethroning Kansas atop the conference. A loss would drop the Cowboys two games in the loss column, while a win would draw the teams even at the top with Oklahoma State getting a chance for the sweep at home when the Jayhawks pay a visit to Gallagher-Iba Arena on March 1.
  3. Cameron Clark has been terrific for Oklahoma this season, but Wednesday’s loss to Kansas State exposed the fact that he needs to find other ways to help the Sooners when his shot isn’t falling. Oklahoma’s defense could use plenty of work and is undoubtedly an area where Clark would give the team a lift if he can improve on that end. If he, along with the rest of the team, steps up, it will go a long way towards securing a second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.
  4. Earlier this week, we touched on the potential of Kansas basketball players getting some nice new digs. On Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents approved plans for a $17.5 million apartment complex that will house as many as 32 men’s and women’s basketball players in addition to traditional students (as per NCAA bylaws). When completed for the 2016-17 school year, the facilities will give the Jayhawks a leg up on their competitors on the recruiting trail.
  5. It would be an understatement to say that this season has not gone as West Virginia planned. Guard Eron Harris‘ play has been emblematic of his team’s struggles, hitting just 13-of-37 shots over the Mountaineers’ last three games. With a 10-7 record and a resume bereft of any impressive victories, West Virginia’s NCAA Tournament hopes could be on life support. For their sake, hopefully the worst is behind Harris and the rest of the Mountaineers, as we’re just not used to seeing Bob Huggins-coached teams struggle like this for extended periods of time.
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Big 12 Afternoon 5: 01.14.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2014

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  1. When watching Joel Embiid slice up Iowa State’s interior last night, it was hard not to come away with the impression that the big man should be the top overall pick in the NBA Draft next June, says Bleacher Report columnist and friend of RTC, Jason King. While Embiid’s development has been impressive, I still have some doubts. The biggest issue with so many people getting wrapped up in last night’s performance is that very few on Twitter seemed to remember that Iowa State’s tallest “big man” was just 6’7″. On the other hand, this wasn’t the first time that Embiid turned in a great game. Still if you ask us, we should get a better grasp of the precocious freshman’s pro potential when he’s tested by a more imposing front line like those at Baylor or Texas. For now, though, our best advice is to just enjoy his progression as a college basketball player.
  2. Now that we’re three games into conference play, it’s getting safer to draw definitive conclusions about the makeup of some conference teams, and it’s time to face the facts that West Virginia is uncharacteristically poor defensively and has little to fall back on when it doesn’t make its threes. The Mountaineers lost at home to Texas 80-69 yesterday, but the game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated due to a garbage time 14-5 run by WVU. The Longhorns led comfortably for the last 25 minutes of the game as West Virginia failed to put the clamps on Javan Felix, Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes, and couldn’t hit enough threes to make up the difference. The loss was especially a letdown because just two days earlier, WVU took Oklahoma State to the brink before coming up short. The Mountaineers are a better team than their empty resume suggests, but unfortunately for Bob Huggins, Tournament bids are awarded based on body of work. We’ve yet to hit Feburary, but it’s getting close to desperation time for the second consecutive year in Morgantown.
  3. On Monday afternoon, Oklahoma found itself in unfamiliar territory when it was named in the weekly AP poll for the first time since the week of November 23, 2009. To provide some context, that dates back to Blake Griffin’s sophomore year, a time period when the swine flu outbreak and Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs dominated headlines. The Sooners put their newly-minted status to the test tonight when they face a Kansas State team capable of holding Oklahoma in check.
  4. Speaking of the Wildcats, Bruce Weber’s team knows that containing Cameron Clark, the Sooners’ leading scorer, will be of utmost importance if Kansas State is to beat the Oklahoma at Bramlage Coliseum. After a modest junior campaign in which he averaged just 6.5 points per game, Clark has exploded on the scene, scoring 18.2 points per contest and making a case for all-conference honors. If the Wildcats are to prevent Saturday’s loss to Kansas from snowballing, it must figure out a way to contain Oklahoma’s high-powered attack.
  5. When Tubby Smith took the Texas Tech job last offseason, most everyone around college basketball was perplexed. Ten weeks into the season, the Red Raiders haven’t done much to clear up the confusion, as they’re in a major funk that has seen them drop six of their last eight games, including three Big 12 contests. It’s going to be a long road to relevance in Lubbock, and Smith’s mettle is already being tested by the team’s early struggles.
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Big 12 M5: 01.13.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 13th, 2014

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  1. Across the nation, all eyes are on DeAndre Kane‘s status for tonight’s marquee match-up between Iowa State and Kansas. As of now, Kane is a gametime decision even though X-rays on his ankle turned out negative. That very few among the media thought Kane would be this big a factor when the season started is pretty telling of just how important he’s been for the Cyclones. Should ISU go down, we’re confident that Fred Hoiberg won’t let Kane’s health be an excuse, as the Cyclones will still have plenty of options if Kane can’t go. Look for a more detailed preview here later today.
  2. After a rocky start to the campaign, Kansas freshman Wayne Selden seems to be turning a corner, and a mindset of treating conference play as a new season of sorts appears to be at the heart of his increase in productivity. His performance in Saturday’s win over Kansas State was an eye opener, as he poured in 20 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Selden’s emergence as a backcourt weapon has been a welcome storyline to a Kansas backcourt that has at times struggled to get everyone going at once.
  3. When a team loses a close game, as West Virginia did to Oklahoma State on Saturday, it can be easy to point to a possession here or there as the determining factor. Mountaineer guard Eron Harris got down on himself for trying to force a few plays down the stretch. While it’s admirable that the sophomore took responsibility, the best he can do is to put it behind him and move on to the next chance, especially as a tournament bid slips more out of reach with each passing loss.
  4. Late stops proved crucial for Oklahoma as they put an end to Iowa State’ unbeaten start on Saturday. The Sooners’ defense has left a lot to be desired, so to see it step up when it really needed to had to have been relief for head coach Lon Kruger. Saturday’s win was a big step in Oklahoma’s quest for a tournament bid, and the Sooners will look to keep it up tomorrow against a Kansas State team that has struggled offensively for most of the year.
  5. Following Kansas State‘s loss at Allen Fieldhouse over the weekend, Bruce Weber is already anxious to see how his team responds. Weber admitted that while his younger players are promising, they were rattled by the raucous crowd in Lawrence when the Jayhawks sprung a 13-3 run midway through the first half and cruised from there. For all the Weber naysayers, of which there are plenty, it’s worth pointing out that aside from Thomas Gipson, the Wildcats’ best players as of late have been those recruited by the second-year coach.
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Big 12 M5: 01.10.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 10th, 2014

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  1. It’s been a big week for Kansas State‘s Marcus Foster: the guard won Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors and CBSSports.com named him National Freshman of the Week. Now The Wichita Eagle has details on Foster’s high school career at Hirschi High in Wichita Falls, Texas. He played all five positions and helped Hirschi to an appearance in the state quarterfinals in his junior year. There, his recruiting stock rose quickly. Foster held scholarship offers from Kansas State, Creighton, Texas, Baylor and Colorado among others. In the summer before his senior year, Foster gained a lot of weight. He appeared slow in his AAU games and those who offered him retracted their scholarships save for Creighton and Kansas State. That drove Foster to get back into shape and have a Parade All-American season before deciding to play college ball for the Wildcats. It’s a fascinating story that also makes you think twice about recruiting services. Talent is everywhere, even if they aren’t ranked on a list.
  2. As we enter the first weekend in which everyone has entered conference play, CBSSports.com released their list of top 30 conference games to watch. Included are five Big 12 match-ups: both Kansas-Oklahoma State games, Kansas-Iowa State, Iowa State-Oklahoma State and Iowa State-Baylor. There are other intriguing Big 12 games that could have made the list, but you have to understand that there are games from nine other leagues that make up the 30. If anything, five of 30 ain’t too shabby for the Big 12.
  3. Kansas is planning on building a brand new apartment complex that would serve men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes. The complex would be similar to Kentucky’s Wildcat Coal Lodge, completed in 2012, in both amenities and finances. The projected cost for the complex is $17.5 million and it would also accommodate 34 students who are non-athletes, in compliance with NCAA bylaws. “We have one of the very elite basketball programs in the country, and we want to do everything we can to stay there,” Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony told the Kansas City Star. “Not only that, we need to, and housing is part of that.” I guess it is, to keep up with the Joneses’, but you were able to get Andrew Wiggins with what you have now. So yeah.
  4. Wednesday’s seemed like a breakthrough game for the entire Kansas team with Wayne Selden have a career night. The same could be said for backup point guard Conner Frankamp. He came into Wednesday’s game on an eight game scoreless streak, three of those being games where Frankamp didn’t see any playing time. He checked in against the Sooners and scored five points in 13 minutes which doesn’t seem like much at first glance. But those five points came within the last 2:09 of the first half which helped turn a deficit into a halftime lead for the Jayhawks. Kansas wouldn’t trail for the remainder of the game. Sometimes confidence is all a player needs to perform and Frankamp appears to have it now.
  5. More bad news to report for West Virginia’s basketball team: Bob Huggins announced the appeal for Jonathan Holton to play this season was denied by the NCAA on Thursday. Holton, who previously played at Rhode Island and later Palm Beach State Community College, would have been an immediate contributor for the Mountianeers this season. Holton averaged 17.5 points and 14.1 rebounds for Palm Beach State CC who went 29-3 last year. The NCAA said that Holton will have two years of eligibility remaining, starting with the 2014-15 season.
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Big 12 M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 8th, 2014

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  1. Just how good is Iowa State? That’s the question Rob Dauster over at College Basketball Talk is asking after the Cyclones pulled away from Baylor in the second half to win the battle of top 10 teams, 87-72. DeAndre Kane had his best game on the biggest stage of the season to date: 30 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Dauster believes the Cyclones are a very good team but not a top 10 team. His points are valid — the Michigan and BYU wins don’t have the same cachet now as they did in November, and their best wins (Iowa and Baylor) came at the impregnable Hilton Coliseum. Regardless of what anyone thinks about them, the Cyclones are now one of only five undefeated teams in college basketball along with Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
  2. When a team commits 18 turnovers in a conference game, it usually spells doom for the road team. Kansas State was that road team on Tuesday night and still somehow emerged with an 18-point win over TCU, 65-47. The difference for the Wildcats was winning the rebounding edge over the Horned Frogs by 16 boards. ”They are not a good rebounding team,” forward Thomas Gipson said. “They play hard and everything, but we really wanted to emphasize our rebounding against them. I feel like we did a good job with that.” Now Kansas State’s winning streak is at 10 games, its longest since the Elite Eight season of 2009-10. Their buddies from Lawrence will be their next opponent on Saturday.
  3. Jerry Palm’s latest bracketology has seven Big 12 teams in the field of 68. Think about that: 70 percent of an entire conference is projected to make the NCAA Tournament. What a number, considering that the Big East’s 11 bids in 2011 accounted for 68.8 percent of that conference. According to Palm, Kansas State and Texas were selected as First Four teams headed to Dayton, Ohio. If they were picked as two of the final teams in, I wouldn’t be so sure if I’d take both. While Kansasa State has recorded its best wins (Ole Miss, Gonzaga, George Washington, and Oklahoma State) within the state of Kansas, those wins are collectively better than Texas’, which pretty much starts and ends with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. But that’s why the season doesn’t end on January 8. Who knows, maybe at season’s end the Big 12 will have seven resumes that are worthy of NCAA Tournament bids.
  4. On Monday, Kansas State’s Marcus Foster picked up Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors, but the accolades don’t stop there. In a collaboration between the Wayman Tisdale Award and CBSSports.com, Foster has won the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week for his play against George Washington and Oklahoma State. This is certainly a breath of fresh air when you consider that the award seemed like it’d be passed around between Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Wiggins and the Kentucky freshmen. Hooray for three-star recruits!
  5. West Virginia has missed some opportunities to rack up important wins in non-league play but leading scorer Eron Harris is encouraged by the team’s 2-0 start in the Big 12. Yes, those two wins came against Texas Tech and TCU both of which have worse overall records than the Mountaineers. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to Harris. “I don’t care what team you’re playing in the Big 12, it’s a tough conference,” Harris told MetroNews. “It’s significant.” Their first non-Texas opponent will come Saturday when WVU takes on Oklahoma State in Morgantown. We’ll see if things really are different.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: Iowa State Takes Our Top Spot

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 6th, 2014

We took the week of New Year’s off for our Big 12 power rankings and all of us learned a lot about ourselves and the world. We’ve found that there are too many networks airing the Tournament of Roses Parade, Mark Dantonio and Rich Homie Quan are becoming best friends, and the top seven in the Big 12 basketball race will shuffle a lot between now and Selection Sunday. The four of us were all in agreement with Iowa State as the best team in the league right now and teams ranked #8-#10. Agree or disagree with us? Let us know in the comments.

1. Iowa State — 4 points (previous: 3rd)

Comment: “The Cyclones just keep on rolling. I still worry about their inability to force turnovers, but they have the fewest questions of any team among the Big 12 contenders right now.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

Fred Hoiberg still has alma mater undefeated entering league play. (Ames Tribune)

Fred Hoiberg still has alma mater undefeated entering league play. (Ames Tribune)

2. Baylor — 10 points (previous: 4th)

Comment: “Kenny Chery might be the most underrated and efficient player in the Big 12. A point guard shooting 50.5 percent from the floor is rarely heard of at the college or pro level. He also averages more assists (5.2 APG vs 4.0) and fewer turnovers (2.1 TOPG vs 2.9) than Marcus Smart. What a find for Scott Drew.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

3. Kansas — 12 points (previous: 2nd)

Comment: “I’m resisting the urge to really hammer Kansas for its loss on Sunday to San Diego State. The schedule has been far too difficult for this young team. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much easier to start the Big 12. This team needs confidence, badly.” – Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson)

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