Dec 1, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys associate head coach Butch Pierre talks with guard/forward Markel Brown (22) against the Memphis Tigers during the second half at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Memphis Tigers defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys 73-68. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 men's basketball power rankings: Evaluating the rise of Kansas State

Remember when Kansas State started the season 2-3 after getting blown out by 27 points against Georgetown? Since then, the Wildcats have rode to an 8-3 record after winning six straight games.

Mar 21, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Shane Southwell addresses the media during practice the day before the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Here are this week’s Big 12 power rankings:

  1. Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1)
  2. Iowa State Cyclones (10-0)
  3. Baylor Bears (10-1)
  4. Kansas Jayhawks (8-3)
  5. Kansas State Wildcats (8-3)
  6. Texas Longhorns (10-2)
  7. Oklahoma Sooners (11-1)
  8. West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5)
  9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)
  10. TCU Horned Frogs (8-3)

KSU’s spark started with an ugly 52-38 win over Long Beach State, signaling more of two very tired teams after a three-day tournament event. Afterwards, two of those wins are notable – they defeated Ole Miss by three at home and then 21st-ranked Gonzaga by 10 points at a neutral site.

They still shouldn’t be above Kansas. The Jayhawks have had a much tougher schedule and none of their losses are as bad as any of KSU’s three losses. But they deserve the surge above both Texas and Oklahoma. Both have a better record but the Longhorns (like K-State) had a slow start while the Sooners just haven’t had that hard of a schedule (similar to the Wildcats). The difference between OU and KSU is the latter having a top 25 victory.

That’s not meant to diss either Texas or Oklahoma – in fact, the Big 12 has emerged as one of the better conferences and perhaps won’t be as top-heavy as we all believed before the season. What seemed like maybe five teams has become an almost definite six.

Kansas State will be tested coming up. They could rise even more with a suddenly tough matchup against George Washington and they’ll open up Big 12 play with Oklahoma State.

  • Speaking of the Cowboys, they solidified the top spot with a fun 78-73 victory over a ranked Colorado team. Sure, Iowa State has the best scoring average in the nation, but OSU has been right behind them. So many players are a scoring threat, and Markel Brown has become the second-best scorer behind Marcus Smart with 16.3 points per game.

  • The Cyclones have solidified their spot at two, currently dominating at the Diamond Head Classic. They’ll have a tough challenge against Boise State on Christmas night. Unfortunately, they probably won’t be able to reach the top of the rankings until they dive into conference play. But their slate in January is incredibly demanding now that we know Texas and Oklahoma are better than expected.
  • The bottom three are arguably completely random. West Virginia stays above the group despite losing to Purdue because Texas Tech has two straight losses to LSU and Arizona State. Why is TCU still last with a better record? Ames High would have a winning record with that schedule.

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