Big 12 Power Rankings (through games on January 26th)
Things are looking up slightly these days in the Big 12 as a whole. The conference's RPI is now fourth after being seventh only a few weeks ago. As the RPI increases, so does the likely number of bids to the Big Dance, which is good news for teams like Missouri, Oklahoma, and maybe Colorado who have new life again. The biggest surprise this past week is easily Baylor earning a victory over Iowa State. The Bears have been tough at home lately, so no team is guaranteed on a win in Waco anymore. The top four teams right now are Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, and Kansas with Missouri and Colorado lagging further behind. Great games continue to be played every week, so keep your eyes on the Big 12 the rest of the season!
Top Games this week:
1. Texas Tech at Oklahoma State – Saturday, Jan. 31st at 8 pm ESPN+. A meeting between arguably the two best teams in the conference in Stillwater should be a great match-up. It is hard for any team to come into Gallagher-Iba Arena and win, but Bobby Knight's crew has the talent to do it. If you have ESPN Full Court, this is a must watch!
2. Missouri at Kansas – Monday, Feb. 2nd at 8 pm ESPN. One of the most heated rivalries in any sport plays its first edition of the season. If the Tigers play like they did against Nebraska, then KU could be in trouble. Another must watch on Big Monday!
3. Missouri at Colorado – Wednesday, Jan. 28th at 8 pm. A game that features the second rung of talent on the Big 12 ladder gives each team a chance to put themselves in a great postseason position. The Buffs are usually very good at home, but Mizzou might have found their game against the Huskers.
1. Oklahoma State (14-2, 4-1, RPI: 25; LW #4) – The Cowboys were blown away by Texas Tech a few games ago, but garner the top spot because that was a road game and they recently beat Texas in Austin. The streaky ‘Boys may be finding a bit of a rhythm, but it could also just be an extended streak. Super-shooter Daniel Bobik has helped Okie State with their outside shooting and could be a huge asset come Big 12 and NCAA tourney time. OSU gets the week off to prepare for Texas Tech on Saturday. Eddie Sutton will have his team ready to go.
2. Texas (13-3, 4-1, RPI: 22; LW #2) – Rick Barnes has himself a team that is less talented than last year, but still finds ways to win big games. Royal Ivey led the ‘Horns into Missouri to start last week with an overtime win and Brandon Mouton hit a huge three to send the Texas Tech game into overtime, which resulted in a Texas win. The only hiccup during an ultra-difficult week was the only game in Austin against Okie State. The depth for Texas should continue to pay dividends as the season continues into tournament time. On tap this week for the Longhorns is a trip to College Station for a battle with the rival Aggies. It should be a win, but there are no guarantees in the Big 12 this year.
3. Texas Tech (16-3, 4-1, RPI: 13; LW #3) – The Red Raiders suffered their first loss in conference on Monday to Texas in overtime and ended their 12-game winning streak. Tech is still hot though and should be able to stick around the top of the standings for the remainder of the year. Even though they lost, Bobby Knight's team should be commended for their ability to compete with a very good Texas squad without much offensive help from Andre Emmett. The five-time Big 12 player of the week struggled with his shot and finished with only nine points. This shows that they can win without Andre scoring 30 points a game, which probably will not happen against the good teams remaining on their schedule. Next up is Oklahoma State on Saturday.
4. Kansas (12-3, 4-0, RPI: 18; LW #1) – How can KU remain undefeated in the Big 12, but drop three spots in a week? It is because they lost to an 11-8 Richmond team at home! The Jayhawks rebounded very well against Colorado after that bad loss, but there are still plenty of doubts surrounding Allan Fieldhouse this season. The frontcourt is as inconsistent as any in the Big 12 and the backcourt lacks a great 3-point bomber to help take the pressure off of that up and down frontcourt. Bill Self takes him team on the road this week to try to find some answers to his team's problems. Kansas goes to in-state rival K-State on Wednesday and then Hilton Arena to face the Cyclones on Saturday. The week raps up with a huge game against Missouri at home on Big Monday.
5. Missouri (8-7, 3-2, RPI: 50; LW #7) – Is this semi-pro team finally starting to click? An overtime loss to Texas at home was followed by a dominant second half performance against Nebraska last week. The latter game was the largest margin of victory for Mizzou all season. Ricky Paulding is finally playing up to his potential and Arthur Johnson just might be breaking out his season-long funk as well. A couple of road trips this week will decide the future of this year's team. Games at Colorado and Kansas sandwich a home date with Kansas State in this season-defining week.
6. Colorado (10-6, 2-3, RPI: 78; LW #5) – Last week was a tough week to make any headway for Ricardo Patten and the Buffs. An 0-2 trip to Stillwater and Lawrence in one week would happen to most teams. The key for CU now is to recover and win some tough games at home in the next few weeks. A huge match-up with Missouri looms on Wednesday. A win in that game keeps Dance hopes alive, but a loss almost surely puts Colorado in the NIT. Baylor visits the Coors Events Center on Saturday in a gimme win most likely.
7. Iowa State (11-4, 2-2, RPI: 72; LW #6) – The Cyclones must have still been riding the wave of beating in-state rival Iowa when they traveled to Waco and lost. It is a loss that will be glaring in the eyes of the NCAA committee when deciding who gets in and who doesn't. Baylor has been playing hard at home, but the loss is still horrible. Wayne Morgan must right the ship immediately with the pesky A&M Aggies coming to Ames on Wednesday and then the Jayhawks on Saturday.
8. Oklahoma (11-4, 1-3, RPI: 51; Last Week #9) – A semi-impressive win over Kansas State is exactly what this team needed after an 0-3 start to conference play. The offense still has its problems and turnovers are killing this young team, but seniors Jason Detrick and Jabahri Brown seem determined to get them back to the NCAA tourney. They both put together nice performances on Saturday and will need to repeat those efforts the rest of the season. This week has a trip to Waco for a likely win followed by a tricky trip to Lincoln to face Nebraska. A 2-0 week could boost the Sooners back into the Big Dance mix.
9. Nebraska (11-5, 1-4, RPI: 91; LW #8) – The conference slide continues for the Huskers as they went into Columbia with a great chance to win and came out with a 21-point beating. After a fairly impressive pounding of Baylor mid-week, Nebraska was put away handily in the final 10 minutes against Missouri. The offense is struggling right now, but a week off before Oklahoma on Sunday could be just what the Huskers need. The Sooners can be beaten and should be beaten if Barry Collier wants to see his team in the NIT at the end of the season.
10. Kansas State (9-6, 1-3, RPI: 121; LW #10) – The Wildcats made the important shots against A&M to notch their first conference win, but turned around and simply threw the ball away too many times to win in Norman. Jim Woolridge has to be frustrated, but his team is still young and has quite a bit of potential. Touted freshman Cartier Martin is nearing a return from injury and should immediately help the anemic Wildcat offense. Another chance to break KU's 22-game winning streak in Manhattan comes up this week, but do not count on that happening. The ‘Cats get a trip to Columbia on Saturday, which will likely result in their second loss of the week.
11. Baylor (6-11, 1-3, RPI: 225; LW #12) – Congratulations to Scott Drew on his first Big 12 conference win as his Bears surprised Iowa State on Saturday. It was looking like Baylor may go 0-16 in conference earlier this season, but they have played well at home recently, which resulted in the ISU victory. Because of that win, Baylor gets to move up one spot for a week. It may just be a one-game winning streak after Oklahoma comes to Waco mid-week, but that is better than no winning streak. A trip to Boulder follows the OU game in what will likely be another loss.
12. Texas A&M (7-8, 0-4, RPI: 217; LW #11) – The Aggies are sooo very close to getting a win, but continue to come up just short. They have been close enough to win every game in conference thus far, but always find a way to lose. The most recent example is a two-point loss to Texas Tech. They gave up a late basket to lose in front of a raucous College Station crowd that desperately wanted to see their first Big 12 win. Melvin Watkins takes his team on the road to Iowa State and then returns to face Texas at home this week. It may be another winless week, but both games will be tight ones.