Big 12 Power Rankings: Feb. 23-March 1
The longest winning streak in the Big 12 is just three games (Hey there, Iowa State. Lookin’ good.), but three more teams in the top half of the power rankings went 2-0 this week, meaning this week’s edition remains mostly stabilized.
Iowa State will spend the next two weeks chasing Kansas, adding a little bit of intrigue to the conference race, but that idea is only new territory for one of those teams.
Here’s how the Big 12 stacks up with two weeks left in the season.
1. Kansas 22-5, 11-3 Big 12. Last week: 1. The Jayhawks dropped an understandable game on the road to a hungry West Virginia team and go back on the road this week for an always dicey game at Kansas State on Big Monday. Has anyone filed a missing persons report in regards to blue-chip freshman Cliff Alexander? Last week, he scored two points, grabbed three boards and logged four fouls in 17 combined minutes against TCU and WVU. That’ll leave KU fans frowning, but you can’t help but smile at this story.
2. Iowa State 20-6, 10-4. Last week: 2. The Cyclones survived road trips to Texas and Oklahoma State to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive. Fred Hoiberg’s team only has two more ranked teams left on their schedule (Baylor, Oklahoma) and both of them come to Ames. If ISU can go 4-0, they’ll give themselves a shot at a share of the Big 12. It’s going to be tight.
3. Oklahoma 19-8, 10-5. Last week: 3. The Sooners narrowly avoided a disastrous loss at Texas Tech, but the carrot they’re chasing is most likely playing a top four seed in the NCAA bracket. Oklahoma finished up a Red River sweep on Tuesday and have this week off before facing TCU on Saturday. Buddy Hield will go down to the wire with Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte and Le’Bryan Nash for the Big 12 scoring title.
4. West Virginia 21-6, 9-5. Last week: 5. A week ago, West Virginia was spiraling toward the wrong side of the bubble after losing three of four games. Instead, the Mountaineers grabbed a season-defining win over Kansas and beat Oklahoma State on Saturday to grab a spot as a tourney lock. It was a much-needed boost after losing four consecutive games to ranked teams in the month prior. Freshman Jevon Carter has been huge for WVU of late, logging double digit points in three of his last five games, including three treys against Kansas.
5. Baylor 20-7, 8-6. Last week: 4. The Bears made it back home with an ugly win after a trip to Lubbock and easily dispatched Kansas State at home. Neither win will impress anyone, but never underestimate the value of a 2-0 week, especially in late February. If Baylor meets a team in the first round without much inside presence, Rico Gathers might log a 20-20 game.
6. Oklahoma State 17-10, 7-8. Last week: 6. The Pokes have quietly slipped into a three-game losing streak after beating KU and Baylor in a single week and have work to do to assure their spot in the bracket. The schedule eases up with games against TCU and Texas Tech ahead, but the Horned Frogs already knocked off OSU to start this three-game losing streak and OSU was 0-2 at home last week. A 2-1 finish would put OSU at .500 and feeling comfortable on Selection Sunday, barring an ugly first-day exit at the Big 12 Tournament.
7. Texas 17-10, 6-8. Last week: 7. The Longhorns are broaching "We need a miracle" territory in regards to their tournament hopes. Most of the Big 12 bubble drama this year will surround the Longhorns. Texas’ three-game win streak earlier this month lacked a quality win and it went 0-2 this week. The Longhorns are headed to Morgantown and Lawrence this week before home games against Baylor and Kansas State to close the regular season. Even a 2-2 split could leave the Longhorns sweating on Selection Sunday.
8. Kansas State 13-15, 6-9. Last week: 8. This season got away from the Wildcats in a blink. A month ago, KSU was hovering near the top of the league standings and had put its six nonconference losses behind it. Now, they’re losers of seven of their last eight games and need a late run just to sniff the postseason. Wednesday’s embarrassing loss to TCU was the new been rock bottom and Bruce Weber will be feeling some heat this offseason. A win over Kansas on Monday would help lower the temperature a bit and K-State is always tough in Manhattan against the Jayhawks. The Octagon of Doom will be rocking.
9. TCU 16-11, 3-11. Last week: 9. The Horned Frogs continue to improve and a strong finish could mean an NIT bid. At the very least, this team would be well-served to play in the CBI, and would be an intriguing participant with a chance to make a run. Wednesday’s win over Kansas State gave the Frogs their first consecutive Big 12 wins in school history.
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