We’re starting to learn more about the nation’s toughest basketball conference, but it’s still muddy.
1. Oklahoma (10-3, 2-0) - Oh boy. Oklahoma showed the nation they belong at the top by completely dismantling an improving Texas team in Austin on Monday. Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, and the rest of the band are devastating in transition. The Sooners can ball.
2. Kansas (11-2, 0-0) - A weird loss to Temple and some struggles offensively bump Kansas down to the second spot. Bill Self will figure it out, and underclassmen are starting to ramp up production, but for now Oklahoma looks to be in control.
3. Texas (12-3, 1-1) - There were thoughts that with improved guard play and more experience in the frontcourt that Texas might contend for the Big XII championship. On Monday night, Oklahoma showed that there might be more distance than expected. The Longhorns may end up being extremely dangerous come tournament time, but recency bias places them closer to the middle of the pack.
4. WVU (14-1, 2-0) - I was mistaken for writing off the windbreaker. Bob Huggins has the Mountaineers playing good basketball, fending off TCU at home with an ill Juwan Staten sidelined. WVU dominates the offensive glass, leading the nation with roughly 18 offensive rebounds per game. This is West Virginia’s best start to the season in three decades.
5. Baylor (11-2, 0-1) - The Bears dropped a tough one in Norman, but that loss has a little less sting to it after Oklahoma’s beatdown of Texas. Offensive production from guards needs to be more consistent, but the Bears can play when focused. The first real conference test comes Wednesday at home versus Kansas.
6. Iowa State (10-2, 0-0) - Hilton Magic took a night off as Frank Martin and South Carolina left Ames with a win. Defensively the Cyclones will have to find a way to get the job done, but Hoiberg will have this team ready for the bright lights of March sooner rather than later. The only other loss is to a surprisingly effective Maryland team.
7. Oklahoma State (11-2, 1-0) - Same losses as Iowa state paired with a conference win, but I get very nervous when most of a team’s scoring comes from 1 or two players. Phil Forte and LeBryan Nash are keeping the Cowboys floating, but for how long?
8. TCU (13-1, 0-1) - This slot is probably disrespectful of a 1-loss team. The Horned Frogs are a feisty, but sub-6-foot scorer Kyle Anderson needs help. A loss to Staten-less West Virginia ended the undefeated dream.
9. Kansas State (7-7, 0-1) - There is some weird stuff going on in Manhattan, and it’s not pretty. Leading scorer Marcus Foster was benched, and now there is speculation that he might be checked out mentally. Bruce Weber needs to pull his guys together and scrap some wins.
10. Texas Tech (10-5, 0-2) - Maybe it’s an inexperience thing, maybe it’s just coincidence, but the Red Raiders cannot finish. Tech gives up hemorrhages points in the second halves of all of their losses. There is some shooting, but not a ton of effective play closer to the basket.