Don’t look now, but the Big 12 might not be as awful as we thought. Big wins by Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas this week helped improve the conference’s reputation, for now at least. The biggest surprise came Saturday night as Kansas State entered as 11-point underdogs to Florida in nearby Kansas City. The Wildcats won the game by six over the much-hyped Gators to improve to 9-2 on the year. Kansas was a rare five-point underdog as well on Saturday afternoon in Columbus against Ohio State, but the Jayhawks eventually won, 74-66. And then there was Texas, who has struggled most of the year without point guard Myck Kabongo in the lineup. The Longhorns beat North Carolina at home last Wednesday in a game that was not close. Yes, the Tar Heels are overrated, but it was a nice win for a Texas team that badly needed one.
1) Kansas (10-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1
Last Week: W 87-59 vs. Richmond, W 74-66 vs. Ohio State
This Week: Saturday vs. American, 7:00 PM
- Rundown: Last week, Bill Self said his team’s season would start Saturday against Ohio State. The Jayhawks beat the Buckeyes for the third time in 13 months and left Columbus as legitimate national championship contenders.
- Feather in the Cap: If Ohio State keeps winning, Saturday’s road win over the Buckeyes will look great for Kansas on Selection Sunday. The Jayhawks’ defense was nearly unstoppable, thanks in large part to center Jeff Withey. His shot-blocking ability kept the OSU players on the perimeter most of the game, where they took bad shots repeatedly and finished with just 66 points.
2) Oklahoma State (10-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 2
Last Week: W 69-44 vs. Texas-Arlington, W 78-42 vs. Tennessee Tech
This Week: Off
- Rundown: I kept the Cowboys at No. 2 this week because of their overall resume to date (certainly not because of wins over Texas-Arlington and Tennessee Tech), but Danny had Kansas State in this spot. When tied, we turn to KenPom for the final verdict, and his ratings have Oklahoma State at 18th in the country. The Cowboys are third in the country in adjusted defense, behind only Kansas and Louisville.
- Feather in the Cap: North Carolina State is not the top 10 team that the Cowboys beat last month, but it was still an impressive win for head coach Travis Ford. Oklahoma State will have another chance at a resume-building win this week on New Year’s Eve, as No. 14 Gonzaga comes to Stillwater.