Feb 24, 2014; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys forward Leyton Hammonds (23), guard Marcus Smart (33) and forward Le

Big 12 men's basketball power rankings: Oklahoma State Cowboys surging at right time

Oklahoma State fans have gone through quite the season. From national championship contender to right near the bottom of the Big 12 standings, and now steady rising to the top. They’re certainly better than their eighth seed they’ve been rewarded in the upcoming tournament, but how much better?

Here are the final Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings, recapping the regular season.

  1. Kansas Jayhawks (23-8, 14-4)
  2. Oklahoma Sooners (23-8, 12-6)
  3. Iowa State Cyclones (23-7, 11-7)
  4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-11, 8-10)
  5. Baylor Bears (21-10, 9-9)
  6. Texas Longhorns (22-9, 11-7)
  7. Kansas State Wildcats (20-11, 10-8)
  8. West Virginia Mountaineers (17-14, 9-9)
  9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (14-17, 6-12)
  10. TCU Horned Frogs (9-21, 0-18)

The Cowboys check in all the way at fourth, yet they’ll have to play in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament. Even worse, they’ll have to play Texas Tech, who isn’t a complete walkover. If they advance, a rested Kansas team with a possibility that Joel Embiid will be back awaits them.

It’s a tough draw, but they certainly have the ability to come out of that and reach the semifinals of the conference tournament. They’ve won four of their last five games since Marcus Smart returned from his suspension, and he’s playing with a much better attitude on and off the court (sans the continuous flopping).

That only blemish in the five-game stretch was at the hands of Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum, and that’s nothing to be disappointed in. Only Kansas has been able to conquer Hilton Magic this season, while the Cyclones won all the rest of their games at home.

Oklahoma State may have an 8-10 record in Big 12 play, but everybody, including the committee, knows how good the Cowboys are right now. Standings don’t describe everything about a team. They may not have all the pieces it had in the beginning when it was a national championship contender, but they’ll be an incredibly tough out throughout March.

Other notes:

  • Speaking of Iowa State, they finish at third place. It wasn’t far off from their original fourth-place prospected finish. While they can confidently proclaim they’re one of the top teams in the conference, it remains to be seen if they can find consistency away from Ames. Lots of fans will be able to make it to Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament and try to recreate the Hilton Magic atmosphere, but that’s not going to happen at NCAA tournament games.
  • Embiid is the wild card that makes Kansas a national championship team. I dropped them in the power rankings nearly a month ago, but that was when Embiid was out — and boy did Jayhawk fans let me know about it. There’s plenty of argument to why Oklahoma deserves the top spot in the power rankings, but I won’t be fooled again. Kansas is an easy 1-seed with Embiid, and if the committee learns that he will be confidently playing with this team, then they’ll be awarded a 1-seed as long as they have a solid showing in Kansas City.
  • Kansas State finishes at seventh in the power rankings. Even though I’ve been down on them more than others, this does feel too low. But with how jacked the Big 12 is, where would you put them? They don’t belong over Baylor after the season finale, and the Wildcats haven’t played as tough of a schedule down the stretch as Texas has. Plus, any Wildcat fan that’s complaining about the Longhorns’ road woes lately should look at their own team first.

Tags: Basketball Big 12 News Iowa State Cyclones

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