The Big 12 conference has always revolved around what Bill Self is doing at Kansas. With heavy emphasis on guards, scoring, and shooting efficiency, all the other teams have tried to keep up with the Jayhawks throughout the years. Some teams, like Iowa State in the beginning of the new millenium, Kevin Durant with Texas, Blake Griffin with Oklahoma, and Missouri last season were able to break through at a higher level.
But this season, it feels like the boys at Allen Fieldhouse could take a lap around this league.
Outside of what Kansas has done, let’s look at the Big 12′s biggest wins. Kansas State over Florida definitely is one. So is Okie State’s win over then sixth-ranked North Carolina State. Baylor over Boston College or Kentucky? Texas over North Carolina? Do all those wins make up for collectively losing to Southern Methodist, Davidson, Chaminade, College of Charleston, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Northwestern, Iowa, Tulsa, Houston, Duquesne, and Arizona State?
I’m not saying all those teams are bad, but it feels like every Big 12 team has lost to an opponent with a pulse. Gonzaga’s gone 5-0 against the Big 12, if they were in the conference they’d probably finish right next to Kansas.
An early prognosis could divide the league into four areas. Kansas is far and above the most impressive team, they are on their own tier. The next tier is Kansas State and Oklahoma State, teams who’ve beaten top talent. Then there’s Baylor, Texas, and Iowa State – all teams that have looked good but will likely all be on the bubble unless they make a solid run in the conference. Finally, there’s the rest – Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and TCU – who all look relatively bad at the moment.
Big 12 Power Rankings:
- Kansas (11-1)
- Kansas State (11-2)
- Oklahoma State (10-2)
- Iowa State (10-3)
- Texas (8-5)
- Baylor (8-4)
- Oklahoma (9-3)
- West Virginia (7-5)
- Texas Tech (7-4)
- TCU (9-4)
(22)Oklahoma State at (25)Kansas State – Saturday, 12:45pm CT (Big 12 Network)
In the long run, this game may not be worth much, but as far as we know this is a battle between two of the better teams outside of Kansas in this conference. OSU looked the best of any Big 12 team against Gonzaga, and while they aren’t ranked highly in any statistic, they do provide a strong defense suffocating their opponents at home. However, outside of their non-conference tournament, they’ve only had one true road game – a 10-point loss at Virginia Tech. They’ll need to bring that energy on the road, and hope the Wildcats continue to struggle shooting the ball (ranked 222nd nationally in FG percentage).
Texas at Baylor – Saturday, 1:00pm CT (ESPNU)
Some power rankings, including ESPN’s, lists Baylor higher than I have them. Despite a blowout at Michigan State, the Longhorns have vastly improved in scoring and not turning the ball over so much like they did early on the season. As long as Texas takes care of their possessions, they should be able to at least slow down the Bears on offense.
MONDAY SUNDAY: Temple at (6)Kansas – 3:30pm CT (CBS)
The Jayhawks have scored 84 or more points in five of their last six games, and they would have scored more than 74 against Ohio State if they didn’t mail it in toward the end of the eventual blowout. Their final tuneup is anything but a layup opponents. The Owls defeated Syracuse a few weeks ago and guard Khalif Wyatt, leading the team with 15.4 ppg and 4.3 apg, should be a good test to see how Kansas handles better guard play in the Big 12.
Iowa State at (6)Kansas – Wednesday, 6:00pm CT (ESPNU)
If the Cyclones are going to be considered a serious contender, they have to take care of the ball better. Korie Lucious finally provides the team with point guard play, and the team is second in the conference with 16.8 assists per game, but it’s turnover level is nearly Texas-bad being third in the conference with 14.9 cough-ups a game. One thing that will always keep the Cyclones in it is the perimeter – no one in the Big 12 shoots the 3-point shot like ISU does.
West Virginia at Texas – Wednesday, 8:00pm CT (ESPN2)
Right now, there isn’t any consistency with the Mountaineers. Seven players clock in 19 minutes or more a game, and the only thing that’s improved is getting to the free-throw line more. The biggest mismatch is WVU’s ability to control the ball better than the Longhorns, they average just 11.8 turnovers a game.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor of Clones Confidential and Autzen Zoo. Get more Cyclones coverage by following us on Twitter.