It looks like the Big XII is close to being locked in, let’s see how things slot up right now.
Kansas (21-5, 10-3) - I don’t think anyone who’s watched basketball can argue this. Bill Self is orchestrating another masterpiece. Kelly Oubre is starting to match his preseason hype, Perry Ellis remains consistent, and guard play remains fantastic. A hiccup in Morgantown isn’t the most surprising thing to happen and will probably end up providing valuable experience to the Jayhawks.
Creating a rock-solid argument for the second spot is not easy. No team in the Big XII is without their flaws and every team has the ability to reach up and ruin an evening. Other writers lately have taken a look at the #2-8 spots, thrown a shrug emoji at the keyboard and finished with TCU and Texas Tech. (Don’t worry, I’ll still do that last part. It’s my favorite.)
But right now, let’s try to make real sense of the mush-in-the-middle.
Iowa State (18-6, 8-4) - A tale of two teams. Recently in Ames, the Cyclones have been nearly unbeatable, and not by a small margin. When playing energetic defense and hitting jumpshots, the ‘clones are a darkhorse Elite 8 or Final Four threat. Can the success translate to games outside the reach of Hilton Magic?
Baylor (18-7, 6-6) - When turnovers can be minimized and everyone is healthy, Baylor can beat any team in the nation...it just needs to happen. Defensively the Bears can stagnate anyone for periods of time. Opponents in conference rank last in assists when playing the Bears. Rico Gathers continues to punish people on the offensive boards, garnering national attention. Can the Bears fuel the annual late-February hot streak?
Oklahoma (17-8, 8-5) - I seriously debated placing Oklahoma spot above, but I trust balance more than dynamic individuals. Not a slant at Buddy Hield or TaShawn Thomas in the least, but the two can only do so much. Lon Kreuger is an incredible coach, and I will probably be eating a nice bowl of crimson crow later this season.
This conference is crazy good.
Oklahoma State (17-8, 7-6) - It feels wrong to have the Cowboys this low. Oklahoma State hit a very nice high point beating Kansas at home and then Baylor in Waco, but then slipped up. As in, super slide covered in baby oil and ice and regular oil. Don’t lose to TCU. That being said, The Cowboys can compete with and beat anyone.
WVU (20-6, 8-5) - Fast is a big, sharp, dangerous double-edge sword. The Mountaineers stole one in Morgantown, beating Kansas with some late heroics from Jawan Staten. A bright spot, but it will be tough to sustain. 3 of the next 5 games are on the road and 4 are against top 25 teams.
That was really hard. I think the most difficult parts are over with.
Texas (17-8, 6-6) - Texas has responded to their 4-game losing streak with 3 consecutive wins, but against the three weakest teams in the conference. I don’t see the Longhorns making massive strides in their final 6 games: @OU, ISU, @WVU, @KU, Baylor, KSU. Rick Barnes earned win #600, but how many more will come with the Longhorns this season?
Kansas State (13-13, 6-7) - Everyone likes making up. It appears that Marcus Foster is back in Coach Bruce Weber’s good graces, and especially so after hitting multiple clutch shots against the Sooners… AGAIN. That being said, it’s been a rough season overall.
TCU (15-10, 2-10) - TCU was ranked #25 at one point this year. Then the Horned Frogs lost 10 out of 12 games in 2015. Yes, Oklahoma State underestimated them on Saturday. Yes, someone else might trip up against TCU later this season. But I doubt it...
Texas Tech (12-14, 2-11) - Texas Tech has reached 60 points four times in conference play, averaging 52.6 points in all conference contests. This is last in the Big XII. Advanced metrics have drawn correlations between “scoring points” and “winning games”.