Big 12 Power Rankings (through games on January 12th)
The mighty Big 12 continued to fall apart last week. In the only two meaningful non-conference match-ups, both Oklahoma and Missouri were handled easily. UConn took the Sooners behind the woodshed on Sunday, 86-59, and then Mizzou continued their freefall at home against Syracuse, 82-68. Very few chances remain for the Big 12 to stop the bleeding in non-conference games. Texas plays host to Wake Forest in a huge battle this week for the Longhorns and the conference. At this rate, the Big 12 will have at most five teams in the NCAA tournament with four a good possibility as well. That thought would have been unthinkable to start the year.
Top Games this week:
1. Wake Forest at Texas (Tuesday at 7 pm ESPN2) – Texas gets one more non-conference chance to prove it deserves the high preseason praise. Wake is one of the best teams in the country, but the Longhorns have them in Austin. This is a must watch!
2. Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Monday at 8 pm ESPN) – The marquee Big Monday game features two of the top four teams in the country. Do not be surprised if the Red Raiders get the victory in this one. Tech is on fire right now.
3. Nebraska at Texas (Saturday at 12:30 ESPN+) – Another chance for the Huskers to show they have improved on the road. Two years ago they almost shot the lights out in Austin, but fell short. This game will be much harder if Texas gets confidence from a win over Wake.
1. Kansas (9-2, 1-0, RPI: 13; LW #2) – The Jayhawks took the whole week off and moved up a spot due to Oklahoma's horrible loss. David Padgett is injured, but should return very soon as Kansas continues its Big 12 schedule. KU should remain in this spot for a while because their next two weeks feature very easy games. Next up is in-state rival Kansas State in Lawrence, then a trip to College Station to take on the Aggies.
2. Texas (9-2, 1-0, RPI: 55; LW #3) – After an easy week last week, Texas gears up for a much tougher road this week. The Longhorns took care of Baylor with ease as they should have and can look ahead to Wake Forest. As mentioned above, it is the last major out of conference match-up for the Big 12 to regain any prestige this season. After that game, UT welcomes upstart Nebraska to Austin on Saturday in an interesting match-up.
3. Texas Tech (13-2, 1-0, RPI: 8; LW #5) – Tech is rolling right now. They took apart a very talented Oklahoma State team at home on Saturday. Andre Emmett continues to impress and his supporting cast is doing a tremendous job in all phases right now. The Raiders will move to 2-0 in conference with a win at Baylor on Saturday and then take on Oklahoma on Big Monday. A win over OU will help this team continue to gel and receive national attention for something other than Bobby Knight and his O'Reilly's Auto Parts-sponsered sweaters. .
4. Oklahoma (10-1, 0-0, RPI: 57; Last Week #1) – It was definitely Black Sunday for the Sooners against UConn. OU was totally dominated in Storrs and showed that they might not be as good as everyone thought. The young Sooners could not get anything going against a team Kelvin Sampson said was the best he's ever faced. OU will try to regroup this week with a very difficult schedule. A trip to Stillwater on Wednesday is followed up by a home game with Mizzou on Saturday and road date with Texas Tech on Monday. A 2-1 record this week will be a solid performance for Oklahoma.
5. Iowa State (10-2, 2-0, RPI: 67; LW #9) – Wayne Morgan is making things happen in Ames. The Cyclones are the early leaders in the Big 12 with home wins over Missouri and Nebraska. Their young backcourt of Blalock and Stinson combined with the always hot shooting of Jake Sullivan makes the group of ISU guards one of the best in the conference. This hot team takes their act on the road on Saturday to Boulder. A win there would be huge in their efforts to make an NCAA push, but a loss keeps them in NIT-range.
6. Nebraska (10-2, 0-1, RPI: 41; LW #4) – In their eighth consecutive Big 12 opener on the road, the Huskers forgot how to play defense against the hot-shooting Cyclones. Talk of the NCAA tournament will be put on hold for a while after ISU picked apart Nebraska inside and outside. It was a tough loss to swallow, but can be overcome. The road back begins with Colorado at home on Wednesday. If there is any hope for the Big Dance, this is a must win game. Saturday features a trip to Austin to take on Texas. An upset there is unlikely, but not impossible.
7. Oklahoma State (10-2, 0-1, RPI: 69; LW #6) – The Cowboys hope that is not their real team that showed up in Lubbock on Saturday. They were mauled in the second half by Andre Emmett's scoring and the Red Raider defense. This team is extremely athletic, but features a cast of streaky shooters. Tony Allen is very exciting to watch, but needs to develop some consistency if he is going to take this team to the next level. This week has the first Bedlam meeting with OU coming to Stillwater and then a trip to Manhattan to take on Kansas State.
8. Colorado (8-4, 0-1, RPI: 105; LW #8) – Ricardo Patten and the Buffs stopped the bleeding last week with two wins over cupcakes, Savannah State and Northern Colorado. Those wins do not mean CU has clicked, but they do help restore some confidence that was lacking. A trip to Lincoln will show if this team can climb back up the rankings this season. After that, Iowa State comes to Boulder for an intriguing match-up.
9. Missouri (6-6, 1-1, RPI: 72; LW #7) – Tom Petty's song "Freefallin'" aptly describes what is happening to Mizzou right now. The Tigers are easily the most disappointing team in all of college basketball. This week Quin's boys came back and then blew a lead at Iowa State, struggled to put away a bad Texas A&M team at home, then hardly even showed up in a nationally televised game at home against Syracuse. Ricky Paulding has finally shown some signs of life, but Author Johnson is MIA right now as well as Jimmy McKinney and others. A chance to right the ship comes on Saturday with a trip to Norman to face the Sooners. Don't hold your breath for a win if you're a Tiger fan.
10. Kansas State (8-3, 0-0, RPI: 139; LW #10) – KSU prepared for their big match-up with the Jayhawks this week by taking on one of the worst teams in D-1, Savannah State. Yes, the Wildcats won that game. Winning at Allan Fieldhouse will not happen, but beating Oklahoma State at home on Saturday is not out of the question. K-State has some talent that will be gaining experience with each game. A trip to Manhattan will not be easy for any team in the Big 12.
11. Texas A&M (7-5, 0-1, RPI: 249; LW #11) – The question is this: Is Texas A&M actually pretty good or is Missouri that bad? The Aggies hung with the Tigers all game in Columbia before falling by five points. A&M was hitting some shots, playing tough defense, and looked like a decent team. If they play that way at home, some teams will come away with a loss when they had expected an easy win. Unfortunately for Melvin Watkins, Kansas is not a team that will come into College Station on Saturday and lose.
12. Baylor (5-9, 0-2, RPI: 285; LW #12) – Well the struggle continues in Waco. In their last possible winnable game, Baylor fell by two points to Texas-Pan American at home. It is truly amazing that Scott Drew can keep his spirits so high when his program is so far away from even being average. The lone bright spot this season is Harvey Thomas. The JUCO transfer has been the only offensive weapon the Bears have. Unfortunately he will be gone after next year. Texas Tech comes to Waco on Saturday in another loss for the Bears, but they will compete to the best of their abilities.
You can reach Bobby Ludemann with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org