Another week, another showing of domination at the top of the conference standings. KU broke the three-way logjam at the top by topping Oklahoma State in double overtime Wednesday night in a defensive slugfest, 68-67. That leaves KU and K-State tied at the top at 11-3 apiece, with KU holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. A quick look at the league’s current standings:
|#13 Kansas State||11-3||22-5|
|#14 Oklahoma State||10-4||20-6|
With only two week’s left before the Big 12 conference tournament, let’s look at how the team’s are playing right now:
The inexplicable victory over KU earlier this season let the Jayhawks seething, and the Horned Frogs caught KU at the wrong time yesterday. TCU was down 38-9 at halftime in its most embarrassing loss of the season so far – a bold statement given how TCU has been performing.
9. Texas Tech
One of Texas Tech’s two conference wins came against TCU, although that was back on January 5. The two meet up again to determine who owns the cellar this Saturday in Lubbock. The Red Raiders were unable to get fans to come out Tech hosted K-State earlier this month, and the arena should have about as much energy as a high school game at tip-off.
8. West Virginia
Does West Virginia have a better conference record than Texas? Yes. Did the Mountaineers sweep the season series? Truthfully. However, it’s hard argue that WVU isn’t playing the third worst basketball in the Big 12 right now. West Virginia remains the only school with a player averaging double figure scoring – Aaric Murray leads the team with 9.2 per game, whose players are shooting 40.5 percent on the year – good enough for 297th in the nation.
Texas beats West Virginia solely on the basis its shooters can occasionally find the basket. While the victories weren’t impressive (at TCU, double overtime versus Iowa State), the Longhorns have still won two of their past four. There will be no NCAA tournament for this team, and even an NIT bid is unlikely, but Rick Barnes is showing a willingness to call his players out by name in making a late push for pride.
Baylor made itself the most mediocre team in the league this year. There is nothing remarkable to say about this team, good or bad. Well, there is one bad – a loss to RPI #152 Charleston back on November 24. The Bears have been smacked with the most difficult remaining schedule in the conference – in addition to opportunities to distance themselves from Texas and West Virginia with visits to both teams, they most also host co-leaders Kansas and Kansas State. While Baylor is a 12 seed in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, they’ll have to work to keep that spot.
5. Iowa State
Following a mid-season slump the Cyclones have bounced back to win three straight with a homestand against KU Monday night. Both teams have evolved since, but recall that Iowa State kicked off league play by taking the Jayhawks into overtime at Allen Fieldhouse. Overall on the season, ISU is 2-3 against the RPI top 25 with victories over Kansas State and Oklahoma – teams that still clearly in a different category of talent.
Although the spot is technically number four, Oklahoma is more team 3A in the conference right now. Since taking Oklahoma State to overtime in Stillwater, the Sooners have a pair of 15-point victories under their belt and have games against ISU, Texas, West Virginia, and TCU left. Write this team in for the fourth and final bye in the Big 12 tournament.
3. #14 Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have done a solid job of remaining ranked since league play started, and damn near defeated KU before succumbing in overtime on Wednesday. Maybe if they manage to down K-State and finish second, they can move up to the top two. However, while Oklahoma houses the third and fourth best teams in the Big 12, the best two still reside in Kansas.
2. #13 Kansas State
Although tied at 11-3 with KU, the Wildcats need some help to win the conference due to Kansas winning the season series. For the second straight game, K-State built a big second half lead but let its opposition chip away in the final minutes before putting Texas away, 81-69. Three games left that the Wildcats should win, then a big visit to Oklahoma State to conclude the season. Short of an uncharacteristic loss, this team looks to be a lock for a three or four seed.
1. #9 Kansas
This is the last team anyone wants to play right now – with the possible exception of Oklahoma State for the potential to break the 1-1 tie they have. However, it would be advisable for teams in any conference to avoid facing a Jayhawk team that only allowed TCU to score nine points in the first half on Saturday. If Kansas beats Iowa State on Monday night, expect them to coast to another regular season championship.