Big 12 Hoops Power Rankings: Jan 26-31
When the team slotted last in the Big 12 Power Rankings beats the team in first, you know you’re due for a tough time putting together the next week’s rendition.
No worries, it has arrived. Of course, it looks a lot different than last week. Only one team in the top seven is in the same spot they were a week ago.
1. Kansas: 16-3, 5-1 Big 12. Last week: 2. A week after losing on the road in Ames, KU has wrestled control of the league with a win at Texas and a victory over Oklahoma. This is a deep, balanced team with a clear leader in Frank Mason III. Nine Jayhawks average at least 13 minutes. Kansas is more than just 5-1. It is 5-1 with trips to Baylor, Iowa State and Texas behind it. Good luck catching KU this year.
2. Iowa State: 14-4, 4-2. Last week: 1. Going on the road in the Big 12 is hard enough. If you leave home and consider yourself a title contender, you can’t hand a team like Texas Tech its first Big 12 win. Iowa State may not have officially eliminated itself from the Big 12 race with a loss in Lubbock, but it made the road a whole lot more uphill and made the memories of the win over Kansas look a bit hazy. ISU still has to travel to Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Kansas State. It has to get a lot better defensively on the perimeter to have any shot at challenging KU for the title.
3. Texas: 14-5, 3-3. Last week: 4. It seemed like Texas’ ability to go toe-to-toe with Kansas was one of the first times all year the Longhorns really made you say "Wow." A big-name opponent in town awakened something in the Longhorns (and their crowd). If Texas can bottle some of that for the rest of conference play, it might win its way to 13-5 or 14-4 and give itself a chance at a share of the league title.
4. West Virginia: 16-3, 4-2. Last week: 5. West Virginia’s win over TCU was one of the most poorly officiated games (on both ends) that I’ve seen in quite some time. That win wasn’t pretty, but the Mountaineers will take it. WVU needs to take advantage of this week’s schedule, which lacks a ranked team. That’s a rarity in the Big 12 now, but a trip to Manhattan, Kansas is never easy and West Virginia took a black eye at Texas the last time it went on the road.
5. Baylor: 15-4, 3-3. Last week: 7. Baylor somehow avoided a barrage of jokes about its football schedule after pausing its hoops schedule to play some guy named Hutson-Tillotson. The Bears have bounced back nicely from an 0-2 start in Big 12 play and are rising in the power rankings after winning four of their last five games, including wins over Oklahoma and Iowa State.
7. Oklahoma: 12-7, 3-4. Last week: 3. The Sooners’ 0-2 week means they slide four spots in this week’s power rankings. Oklahoma has now lost four of its last five games after beating two ranked teams to start league play. Buddy Hield was 4-20 from 3-point range last week. It’s always hard for OU to log wins when that happens. The good news: Only one road game against a ranked team remains.
8. Oklahoma State: 13-6, 3-4. Last week: 8. This team isn’t good enough to continually attempt to dig itself out of holes. The Pokes dug a 14-point ditch on the road against Kansas State and is now 0-4 in Big 12 play on the road. Only one of those losses (Iowa State, somehow) came by single digits.
9. TCU: 14-5, 1-5. Last week: 9. I have no idea how West Virginia stole that game from TCU and I’m guessing the Frogs don’t either. Free throw issues continue to haunt this team, but TCU’s health has made this a team capable of winning games in the league. Having Amric Fields, Devonta Abron and Karviar Shepherd all on the floor at the same time alongside Kyan Anderson means this team can finally be competitive in Big 12 play. Trent Johnson’s team doesn’t roll over in Big 12 play anymore.
10. Texas Tech: 11-9, 1-6. Last week: 10. One game doesn’t fix the 19 that preceded it, but Tech got hot from three and shocked the league by knocking off Iowa State and issuing a huge blow to the Cyclones’ title hopes. Is this a forgettable blip on an awful season? Or a step to salvaging a horrible start? The way Tech shot the ball makes me lean toward the former, but Tubby Smith had the Red Raiders playing solid ball late last season. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong.
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