Oklahoma State Cowboys Prime Example of Big 12 Basketball Strength

If anyone doubts the strength of Big 12 men’s basketball this season, he need look no further than the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys currently sit seventh in the standings in the uber-competitive Big 12 conference with a 17-11 overall record and one game under .500, at 7-8, in league play.

As recently as mid-January, this same Cowboys’ team boasted a record of 13-3 and was ranked 24th in the Associated Press Top 25. Since that time, however, Oklahoma State has gone 4-8 against teams in the Big 12, which actually is nothing to shake a finger at, given the overall strength of the Big 12 in men’s basketball.

Feb 28, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) shoots a layup as Texas Longhorns forward Myles Turner (52) defends during the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 69-64. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Despite OSU’s marginal record this season, ESPN resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi has never had the Cowboys out of his projected NCAA Tournament field for the 2015 edition of March Madness. And there is a good reason why: Oklahoma State ranks No. 27 in the latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and is sixth in the country in strength of schedule.

Oklahoma State is  a prime example of both what and why college basketball experts have been touting all season that the Big 12 is the best of the best among the power conferences in NCAA Division I basketball.

Here are some more compelling reasons that support that claim:

  • Five Big 12 teams are in the top 21, six in the top 39 and seven in the top 53 of the RPI ratings – all are the most of any conference.
  • The Big 12 is the only conference in college basketball in which every team in the league has at least 13 victories and 9 of the 10 teams are above .500 in overall games.
  • Forty-eight of the last 54 conference games have involved one or more ranked teams.
  • Seven Big 12 teams are among the top 17 nationally in strength of schedule in the 2014-15 season, more than any other conference.
  • Among the 14 teams that have the most wins over top-25 teams this season, seven are from the Big 12.
  • Big 12 teams had the best nonconference record in college basketball this season with a combined record of 105-22, .827. No other conference had a combined nonconference winning percentage better than .800.
  • Big 12 teams picked to finish 6th through 10th in the preseason coaches’ poll were 56-7 in nonconference games this season.