In a season in which the Big 12 is generally thought to be as tough as it’s ever been from top to bottom, the Jayhawks not only won their thirteenth straight title, but did so a full three games before completing their schedule. In other words, KU didn’t just win, it dominated. Now the only question remaining is will the Jayhawks do in the NCAA tournament what they’ve done in Big 12 play, or will they underperform as they have the last several years?
Baylor’s two losses to Kansas came by a total of seven points. The defensive-minded Bears match up well with KU, and slow down the Jayhawks just enough to remain in striking distance the whole way though. However, BU has lost two of its last three, and only beat Oklahoma by six in Nineveh-on-Brazos. I believe this team will exit the Big Dance early.
3. Iowa State
The Cyclones were a modest 5-5 through 10 conference games, but have since gone 5-1, with their only loss a two-point head-scratcher in Austin. They are the last team to beat Kansas, and have won four straight by a substantial 10-point average, the two-point OT win over Texas Tech the anomaly in the streak. If the Cyclones with their last three games over Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, look out.
4. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys’ hot streak continues. They have now won nine of their last 10 games and should crack the Top 25. Interestingly enough, however, OSU is only 3-4 in home conference games. Is it possible that Texas Tech springs the upset this weekend?
5. West Virginia
I’ve got the Mountaineers at No. 5 this week, but one could make a strong case they should be No. 2. There’s very little difference between No. 2 and No. 5 in the Big 12. Concluding conference games against Baylor and Iowa State will go a very long way toward determining the pecking order below Kansas.
6. Texas Tech
Although Kansas State and TCU are one game above the Red Raiders in Big 12 standings, I firmly believe Texas Tech is the better team. The Frogs are on a four-game losing streak, the Wildcats have lost four of their last five, and while Tech has also lost four out of five, they could very easily have won those four heartbreakers. It’s dangerous to let mysticism cloud one’s judgment, but one can’t help thinking that kismet is soon do don a scarlet jersey.
Much like Texas Tech, a season that began so promisingly is now headed south at an alarming rate. Not only have the Frogs lost four in a row, three of those losses came by an average of 17 points. It’s one thing to lose; it’s another to not be competitive, and TCU hasn’t been very competitive lately.
8. Kansas State
The Wildcats lost the only game so far between the Big 12’s purple teams, and that drops them into the eighth spot. K-State is going through a terrible patch with seven losses in nine games. The cushion under Bruce Weber’s caboose is beginning to heat up.
There’s precious little to choose from between the Horns and the Sooners. They split the season series, and have similar non-conference records. The Longhorns, however, have won one more conference game than OU, and that is the difference. Still, is their any team in Power 7 hoops that has lagged preseason expectations more than UT?
Everybody knew the loss of Hield, Spangler and Cousins would be difficult to overcome, but few thought the Sooners would go from the Final Four to the floor. It will certainly be interesting to see how much OU’s young talent improves next season.