1. The Big 12 football year is over. No more games will be played linked to the 2013 season. In fact, we have a terrible amount of time until another meaningful game is played by a Big 12 team. The Big 12 finished 3-3 in the bowl season, and 1-1 in the BCS games. Of course, we all know the loss in the BCS game quite well. Strangely, the Big 12 won two games that they were huge underdogs in with the Red Raiders upsetting Arizona State and the Sooners pulling off one of the larger upsets in recent memory by beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Overall, the Big 12 was involved in all three of the craziest upsets, with the Bears loss to Central Florida also qualifying. It wasn't a huge success for the conference, but it could have been a lot worse, especially with Baylor's loss.
2. With football over, it is time to focus on basketball. The Big 12 conference is off to a tremendous start, and is by far the #1 conference in terms of RPI. There are four ranked Big 12 teams, with Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas all in the top 16 of the country. Also, surprise team Texas is just outside of the 25 and Oklahoma and Kansas State are receiving votes as well. That is 70% of the conference.
However, there were some losses for the top teams this weekend, with Oklahoma State falling at Kansas State, which could give the Big 12 a 5th ranked team and Kansas losing a big conference home game against San Diego State. The Wildcat are now just 9-4 on the year, with losses to Villanova, Colorado, Florida and San Diego State. All four of those teams are ranked in the Top 25 currently. There is just 1 undefeated team in the Big 12 left, with Iowa State carrying that burden still. Their schedule has not been the toughest, though they have nice road wins against Michigan and Iowa.
3. Ranking the Big 12 right now is incredibly difficult. You have teams with great records that have not played the toughest of schedules (Iowa State) and you have teams that have played incredibly difficult schedules with a few losses like Kansas. Right now, there are four teams with a chance to be great and three other teams that could be pretty good. KenPom ranks the teams as Oklahoma State, Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor. Massey ranks them Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas. RealTime RPI and RPI Forecast rank them as Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
Needless to say, everyone is all over the map right now in terms of rankings. I think that the best resume's so far for teams are Baylor and Iowa State due to them having vastly superior wins to Oklahoma State. Kansas has played the toughest schedule in the nation, and by a long way too. They have wins over Duke, Georgetown and New Mexico, but those four losses knock them down quite a bit. So, here is how I would rank them right now.
1. Iowa State – 13-0 (0-0)
2. Baylor – 12-1 (0-0)
3. Oklahoma State – 12-2 (0-1)
4. Kansas – 9-4 (0-0)
5. Kansas State – 11-3 (1-0)
6. Oklahoma – 12-2 (1-0)
7. Texas – 11-3 (0-1)
8. West Virginia – 9-5 (1-0)
9. Texas Tech – 8-6 (0-1)
10. TCU – 9-4 (0-1)
4. Those rankings though don't really work with how I think the conference will end up though. I would still put Kansas and Oklahoma State as the two favorites with Baylor and Iowa State behind them. Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas would then be in a fight for either one or two bubble spots for the NCAA tournament depending on how the spots filled out. But make no mistake; this is the best conference in college basketball. Texas has been absolutely shocking to me, as I fully expected them to struggle to finish over .500. Their schedule has not been the toughest, but they do have a great win at North Carolina and a good win over Vanderbilt and Temple. The Sooners have also gotten off to a very good start, but their only top 75win according to KenPom was Alabama to open the year before their win at Texas.
Watch out for Kansas State though. They already have wins over Gonzaga, Mississippi and Oklahoma State and with their home court advantage (already shown in their win over OSU), they are a threat to move up quite a bit in the conference and national rankings. The Big 12 is a beast this year, no doubt.
5. And lastly, let's take a moment to be thankful for a truly great 2013 football season. Has it truly hit everyone yet that the Bears are Big 12 champions? Has it truly hit that Baylor finished 11-2 on the year and will hopefully have a Top 10 finish on the season? Yes, the Fiesta Bowl was a bit of a letdown, and prevented the very easy case of the best Baylor season in history. But still, it isn't that difficult to call it the greatest season in Baylor football history even without a Fiesta Bowl trophy coming home to Waco.
This group of seniors led Baylor to bowl games in all four years of their eligibility. Think about that. A program that had not gone to a bowl game in 3 straight years sends out a senior class that played in four bowl games. The 34 wins in the last four years is four more wins that in any four year stretch for the Bears (83-86, 85-88). From 2000 to 2009, the Bears totaled 34 wins. Heck, in a four year stretch from 2000-2003, the Bears won just 11 games total or as many was they won this year. Those four years also happen to coincide with my time as a Baylor student, so I saw as many wins in four years as I did in 2013. Outstanding.