Two weeks into the 2013-14 college basketball season, and the Big 12 has already logged impressive victories over two of the preseason top-10 teams.
The youthful but highly talented Kansas Jayhawks went into the United Center in Chicago in the first full week of the new seasonin and served notice to the college basketball world that they weren’t going to play second fiddle to anybody, anywhere this season.
The sixth-ranked Jayhawks hung tough all game against No. 4-ranked Duke. The game was tied for the 12th time at 79-79 when Kansas took the lead on a tip in by freshman Wayne Selden Jr. with a little under three and a half minutes to go in the game. The Jayhawks gradually pulled away from there to salvage an 11-point 94-83 victory. Kansas made seven of nine free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.
As a result of Kansas’ impressive victory over Duke in the Champions Classic, the Jayhawks advanced all the way to No. 2 behind Michigan State in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll
Iowa State, projected to finish fourth in the conference this season in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll, pulled off the other big surprise of the first-week action, upending then-eighth-ranked Michigan. And just this past weekend, Oklahoma, picked by the Big 12 coaches to finish fifth this season in the conference, gave top-ranked Michigan State all it could handle, eventually losing by 11 points, 87-76.
I hate to bring up the good with the bad -sort of like rubbing salt in a fresh wound – but it was terrific to see the Jayhawks and Cyclones come out so strong early in the college hoops season, especially after all the pain both schools have suffered on the football field this fall. Their combined record in football through Week 13 of the 15-week regular season is 5-17, and three of those wins belong to Kansas.
Here are some other fun facts and figures that stand out early in the 2013-14 men’s hoops season in the Big 12:
3.5 – Margin by which Kansas State, normally a very good rebounding team, is being outrebounded by its opponents so far this season, the lowest percentage in the Big 12.
8 – Losses so far by Big 12 teams to non-conference opponents. It’s the second fewest by any college conference.
9 – Consecutive regular-season championships by Kansas.
10 – All 10 of the Big 12 men’s basketball head basketball coaches have led teams to the NCAA Tournament. The Big 12 is the only conference in the country that can make that claim.
17.5 – Average margin of victory in the 37 wins by Big 12 teams this season.
20.4 – Scoring average of West Virginia sophomore Eron Harris through five games, best in the Big 12. Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, the Big 12′s Player of the Year last season, is second, with a 20.0 average.
58.6 – Free-throw percentage by Texas on 65 of 111, the worst in the conference in the early going.
63.6 – Sophomore guard Phil Forte of Oklahoma State has made almost 64 percent of his three-point field-goal tries this season (14 of 22).
75 – Big 12′s winning percentage against top-25 teams this season (3-1, .750).
82 – Percentage of wins by Big 12 teams thus far against non-conference opponents (37-8, .820). That is the highest mark against nonconference teams in Big 12 history.
102.2 – Team scoring average of Oklahoma State this season, with a high of 117 points against Mississippi Valley State in the Cowboys’ season opener.