We’re just three weeks away from turning the page on another year and the start of conference play in Big 12 men’s basketball. In the meantime, Big 12 teams continue to pile up the victories, and in wide margins, over out-of-league opponents.
The top five teams in the conference standings are a combined 43-4 entering this week. Only one other major conference, the Pac-12 (48-4 through Sunday’s games) – has done better this season.
Every team in the conference has a winning percentage ofr .636 or better, the best in the nation. The Big 12 is known for its offensive firepower in football, the league is demonstrating that it can be just as explosive on the hardwood. Three conference teams rank in the top-10 nationally in points scored per game – Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – and Iowa State leads the country in that category, averaging 90.9 points per game. The two Oklahoma schools are very close, averaging just two points fewer per game than the Cyclones.
Only one game remains in the inaugural season of the Big 12-SEC Basketball Challenge. The Big 12 has won six of the nine games thus far this year, with Oklahoma and Texas A&M the lone game remaining (on Saturday). Big 12 teans have won 13 games against the SEC in basketball the past two seasons, with just five losses.
By clinching the Challenge series with the SEC this season, the Big 12 has now won three straight Challenge series against other conferencces. Big 12 teams won the series with the Pac-12 in 2009 and 2010.
Four notable games highlight the Big 12 schedule this coming Saturday: Fifth-ranked Michigan State is at Texas; Georgetown visits Allen Fieldhouse to take on Kansas, Kansas State goes up against 15th-ranked Gonzaga in Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma (9-1) meets Texas A&M (8-2) in Houston as part of the Big 12-SEC Challenge.
Big 12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings – Week 7
- Iowa State Cyclones - This is a very good Iowa State team. Look for them at or near the top of the league all season long. Best of luck to teams visiting Hilton Coliseum this season.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys – My guess is that the Cowboys will do better in basketball than they did in football this season, and they might even finish the job that their football brethren couldn’t.
- Baylor Bears - An impressive win over Kentucky, but there are several teams in the Big 12 that would beat Kentucky right now.
- Oklahoma Sooners - This Sooners’ team is much better than first thought. They play selflessly and with great passion and seem to thrive on a quickened pace.
- Kansas Jayhawks – The Jayhawks have lost three games, but the level of competition and amount of time away from home has been much greater than most and will be a difference maker later in the season.
- Texas Longhorns – Like the Longhorns in football this season, this team is unpredictable from game to game, but playing at a good-enough level presently. Next two games – against North Carolina and Michigan State – will test the Longhorns’ mettle, however.
- Kansas State Wildcats – The Wildcats have won five in a row and should win two of the next three to take a 9-4 record into conference play.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders – Texas Tech is 6- 0 at home this season under new coach Tubby Smith, their best home mark to begin the season in two years. They open the Big 12 season in a couple of weeks at home hosting conference leadier Iowa State.
- TCU Horned Frogs – TCU has a 7-3 record and is a perfect 3-0 away from home. The Horned Frogs won only 11 games all of last season and have three more nonconference games, all at home, before the conference season begins.
- West Virginia Mountaineers – This year’s Mountaineers team actually is improved, but they really aren’t playing like it yet. WVU has played one more game than the rest of the conference, but it also has one more loss (4) than anyone else.