Heading into the final weekend of the year, five Big 12 teams have 10 or more wins and have gone down to defeat just five times in 57 combined games.
Four conference teams are ranked in the AP top 25 this week, the most of any conference in the country, and two more are ranked in the top 30. What’s somewhat surprising about the four teams in the top 25, ine-time defending league champion Kansas is the l0west of the four ranked teams at No. 16. The Jayhawk (8-3)s were as high as No. 2 this season after beating fourth-ranked Duke in their second game of the season, but steadily dropped down in the rankings after suffering three losses in their next seven games.
Oklahoma State, the preseason favorite of the Big 12 coaches along with Kansas, is the conference’s highest-ranked team this week at No. 7 in both the AP and USA Today polls. Baylor (10-1) is next at 11, and Iowa State is 14, followed by Kansas. Oklahoma is right at the doorstep of the AP top 25 at No. 26, and Texas is two spots back at 28.
Iowa State remains unbeaten through its first 10 games and atop the conference standings. The Cyclones have powered their way to ther perfect record with the nation’s second highest scoring offense, averaging right at 90 points per game. Both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, both 11-1 through games of Monday night, are right there with the Cyclones. OSU is tied for sixth in the country in scoring and Oklahoma is 10th.
With the conference season just around the corner, this should be an outstanding season of basketball in the Big 12. The individual talent level may be skewed to just a few schools, but the Big 12 has some of the college game’s most outstanding coaches. Because of that, the overall competitive nature of the conference is more balanced than it would first appear. The league’s excellent nonconference rec0rd (90-24, .790) underscores that point.
Big 12 Men’s Basketball Week 8 Power Rankings
- Iowa State Cyclones – You’re going to have to be able to outscore this team if you’re going to beat them, and that won’t be easy, especially when the Cyclones play at home. Baylor gets the first shot at the Cyclones in Ames the second week in January.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys – This veteran team is playing as well as any team in the country right now. Next big test will be at Kansas State Jan. 4.
- Baylor Bears – The Bears 10 wins include victories over Colorado and Kentucky, both ranked in the top 25.
- Kansas Jayhawks – The baby Jayhawks finally made it back home to Allen Fieldhouse after a 30-day absence, and Saturday’s convincing performance over Georgetown showed they are, indeed, a championship-caliber team at home.
- Oklahoma Sooners – Coach Lon Kruger’s team is playing extremely well. The Sooners are probably the biggest surprise heading into conference play.
- Texas Longhorns – The Longhorns have tremendous talent, but they are also very young. Chances are UT is going to experience growing pains as the season progresses, but they are going to beat some of the contenders along the way.
- Kansas State Wildcats - I’m not sure how to read this team yet. The Wildcats played poorly in their first few games, but had an outstanding effort in beating nationally ranked Gonzaga over the weekend.
- TCU Horned Frogs – TCU was 8-3 at this time a yesr ago, the same record they have this season, but they won just 3 of their next 20 games. The Horned Frogs should win a few more conference games this season, but they will have much greater difficulty once the league season tips off.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders – They shoot free throws very well but, unfortunately, the Red Raiders don’t shoot very well, don’t rebound well and don’t defend. Not a good formula for success in the Big 12.
- West Virginia Mountaineers – This is shaping up as another disappointing season for coach Bob Huggins’ crew. They’re looking at a year similar to the Mountaineer football team this season.