Big 12 Power Rankings (through games on February 16th)
After a two-week hiatus, the Big 12 rankings are back and things are starting to sort themselves out. OSU has grabbed hold of the top spot with their current 10-game winning streak. Texas, Kansas, and Texas Tech have started to fall in line behind the Cowboys and CU, Mizzou, and ISU are battling for the likely final conference spot in the Big Dance. Nebraska is on a nice little run that may put them into the NCAA picture if it continues. K-State, Baylor, and A&M are all struggling to find wins. The stretch run is upon us and should be extremely exciting.
Top Games this week:
1. Kansas at Texas, Mon. the 23rd, at 8 pm ESPN. Another top-notch Big Monday match-up. KU is struggling right now and a trip to Austin is not the best way to solve your problems. If Texas wins, they likely secure the second seed at the Big Twelve Tournament.
2. Texas at Oklahoma, Sat. the 21st, at 8 pm ESPN. Before the KU game, the Longhorns must go to Norman for the second of two Red River Rivalry meetings. In the first game, UT blew the Sooners away in Austin.
3. Texas Tech at Colorado, Wed. the 18th, at 6 pm ESPN. Tech needs this win badly to help their seeding in the NCAA tourney. Bobby Knight's bunch has struggled on the road and CU is looking to make a run for the Big Dance.
1. Oklahoma State (20-2, 10-1, RPI: 11; LW #1) – Eddie Sutton again shows why he is one of the best coaches in the country with the performance of his Cowboys this year. Three transfers (John Lucas, Daniel Bobik, and Joey Graham) have been worked into the starting lineup with immediate impact. OSU leads the country in field goal shooting and their defense improves with each passing game. A possible number one seed in the Big Dance is a possibility for Okie State if they win out. This week features an interesting match-up with Nebraska on Saturday in Stillwater.
2. Texas (17-4, 8-2, RPI: 15; LW #2) – The ‘Horns had been coasting along for a couple of weeks before running into an upset-minded Iowa State team in Ames. The Cyclones surprised Texas and won 78-77. Rick Barnes will get his squad back up quickly because the schedule gets more difficult in the coming weeks. This three-game week features a trip to OU sandwiched by home games against A&M and Kansas. A sweep of those games keeps Texas in the running for the regular season title.
3. Kansas (15-6, 7-3, RPI: 19; LW #4) – KU is struggling right now. They have lost three of their last five games with the last two being blowouts at Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Jayhawks fans are stressing out about Bill Self right now, but things should be all right by the end of the year. David Padgett and J.R. Giddens need to step up sooner rather than later if KU wants to even sniff a third straight trip to the Final Four. Kansas gets a break this week with Baylor and Iowa State at home before having to travel to Texas.
4. Texas Tech (18-6, 6-4, RPI: 20; LW #3) – Since the last rankings, Bobby Knight has had an incident at a supermarket salad bar with the Tech Chancellor and the Red Raiders have sputtered on the road. Tech has lost their last three on the road and last four of six overall. Andre Emmett continues to play very well and is still on track to win the Big 12 player of the year, but needs more help when he is taken out of the game by the opposing defenses.
5. Oklahoma (16-6, 6-5, RPI: 35; Last Week #8) –
The Sooners have rebounded from an 0-3 conference start and have placed themselves back in the NCAA tournament picture. They could still stumble and miss out on the Big Dance, but Kelvin Sampson is too good of a coach to let that happen. Only one game this week, but it is a huge one. The rival Longhorns come to Norman in a revenge game for OU. The Sooners were destroyed a couple weeks ago in Austin, so payback will be on their minds.
6. Missouri (11-10, 5-5, RPI: 47; LW #5) –
The Tigers may be finally coming together and making a late push for the Big Dance. They have put two very solid wins together with the last one over UNLV being a major rout. Their strength of schedule is in the top 10, so that may end up saving them when the selection committee meets in early March. Mizzou has a revenge game with Iowa State in Columbia followed by a trip to Waco to face Baylor this week.
7. Colorado (13-8, 5-5, RPI: 75; LW #6) –
CU has not come up with a signature win yet this season, which could really hurt their chances at the NCAA tourney. An opportunity to get that big win comes up on Wednesday against Texas Tech in Boulder. A trip to Manhattan comes up this weekend and that is a must win if the Buffs want more than an NIT bid.
8. Iowa State (14-7, 5-5, RPI: 57; LW #7) –
The ‘Clones over the last few weeks have wins over Kansas and Texas, but in between those wins they had three horrible losses. OU, OSU, and KSU all dominated Wayne Morgan's squad. If ISU wants a chance at the Big Dance, they need to do much better on the road. They have been terrible so far this year away from Hilton Coliseum. Two more road chances come this week with trips to Columbia and Lawrence. A win in either game will help the Cyclone cause greatly.
9. Nebraska (14-7, 4-6, RPI: 85; LW #9) –
After a horrid 1-6 start in conference, the Huskers have reeled off three straight wins including their first road win in two years and an upset victory over Kansas. An NIT bid is almost guaranteed now, but thoughts of the NCAAs are creeping into the minds of Nebraska fans. NU will need some help in that quest, but it could still happen. A must win at home against Kansas State is the first game this week and is followed by an extremely difficult trip to Stillwater to face the conference leading Cowboys. A win in Gallagher-Iba would drastically change the postseason thinking of Nebraska.
10. Kansas State (11-10, 3-7, RPI: 113; LW #10) –
The ‘Cats have not being playing poorly, but wins have still been hard to rack up. They still have not won on the road in conference over the past three years, so until they do that it will be a struggle to build a quality program in Manhattan. A trip to Lincoln is a chance to earn that first conference road victory in 22 games, but it is unlikely. The Buffs of CU come to Bramlage on Saturday in a possible win for KSU.
11. Baylor (7-16, 2-8, RPI: 194; LW #11) –
Baylor has been beaten soundly in every game in the Big 12 recently except for their game against A&M. They notched their second win in conference with a 72-64 win over the Aggies. The Bears have managed to exceed expectations this year after the tragic offseason and Scott Drew deserves most of the credit. A trip to Kansas could be very, very ugly, but BU might stay close to Mizzou when the Tigers come to Waco this weekend.
12. Texas A&M (7-14, 0-10, RPI: 227; LW #12) –
Melvin Watkins has a team that misses a ton of shots and does not play defense. Seems pretty obvious why they are still winless in conference. Antoine Wright, last year's outstanding freshman, has vanished and the rest of the talent is not very good. Bill Byrne has probably been looking for a new head coach for some time now. Games at Texas and Texas Tech this week will likely be ugly blowouts. The next real chance at a win will be when Baylor comes to College Station next week.
You can reach Bobby Ludemann with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org