10. Oklahoma (8-15, 2-9) [no change]
Man, oh man, it’s been a rough go of late for these guys. The Sooners are in the midst of a six game losing streak that has been a rough mix of near misses and a beat down or two. Late leads blown against Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma State have given Lon Kruger’s men hope and motivation, but they seemingly just can’t get into the win column. They’ll head up to Ames on Saturday to try and avenge one of those close losses from a few weeks ago. Oklahoma lead by nearly 20 in the early going of the first meeting, but collapsed quickly to trail by a point at the break, and then played as even as possible for the next 25 minutes, taking the game into double overtime before running out of gas. ISU hasn’t exactly been a force at home, so the Sooners have a great chance in this one.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 @ Iowa State
9. Texas (10-14, 4-7) [no change]
Much like rival Oklahoma, the Longhorns has had a rough go in conference play, yet Texas has managed to sneak up and grab a couple of wins this season against some unsuspecting victims. Most recently Iowa State, when Texas stole a 2 point win over the Cyclones. Jarrett Allen continually imposes his will on opposing teams, but Texas’ lack of other significant threats has been their major downfall. The Horns have another winnable game on the docket against Oklahoma on Saturday. Texas stole one from the Sooners in the first meeting, but as the site flips to Norman the challenge amps up in difficulty. If Texas can get another win, they may start to really build some momentum.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 @ Oklahoma State
8. Texas Tech (16-8, 4-7) [no change]
Plain and simple, Texas Tech needs a win. They have to give the tournament committee a piece of work that helps qualify them as a postseason team. Kansas is now on their doorstep, and that is exactly what that game is. A potential resume builder, a season definer. If Chris Beard can get his team a top 5 win over the Jayhawks, I think it will put them on the cusp of tournament play. Keenan Evans is giving Tech nearly 15 points per game, and if he can contribute like that on Saturday, the Red Raiders may just get themselves an upset win to really stir up the pot in the Big 12 conference. Texas Tech has a golden opportunity to make some noise on Saturday.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 vs. Kansas
7. Kansas State (16-8, 5-6) [-1]
Losers of 4 of their last 5 games, Kansas State needs another big win to stay in the tournament conversation. The Cats already grabbed a win over West Virginia this season, and now they have the chance to sweep the Mountaineers. Kansas State got a huge road win at Baylor last week, but followed it with a home loss to KU. If K-State can get a much needed win to end their current streak, the Wildcats could play themselves into a solid seed in March. Dean Wade came up huge for K-State against Kansas, scoring 20 points and providing 6 rebounds on top of that. He has shown great improvements during his sophomore campaign and brings tools to the table that are vital to this Kansas State team.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 @ West Virginia
6. Oklahoma State (15-9, 4-7) [+1]
The hottest team in the Big 12 is in Stillwater. The Cowboys have won 5 of their last 6, and nearly upset Baylor this past week. Phil Forte and Juwan Evans create one of the most dynamic 1-2 punches in all of college basketball. They form a top 10 national offense, and have begun to figure things out defensively. I have taken notice of this OSU squad, and so should you. I think they have the potential to be a definite top 5 Big 12 contender and an absolute tournament sleeper. I say watch out for this Cowboys team, Texas. OSU is looking to avenge their previous loss to the Longhorns earlier in the season, and with how hot they are right now, this one could be over fast.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 vs. Texas
5. Iowa State (14-9, 6-5) [-1]
If you would have told me that Iowa State would follow up their win in Allen Fieldhouse with a loss to a weak Texas team, I probably would have laughed at you. But here we are. That was a game Iowa State couldn’t afford to lose. They finally had built some solid momentum moving towards the tournament, and now it’s gone. They’ll have to recreate that mojo when they bring Oklahoma into Ames. If they can get a win, they should manage to keep their tournament hopes alive. But if they continue to lose to mediocre teams, they might just play themselves out of it.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 vs. Oklahoma
4. TCU (17-7, 6-5) [+1]
TCU is slowly but surely pushing their way solidly into tournament contention. They continue to get wins against Big 12 contenders, and have played far better than anyone ever imagined they would this season. Jamie Dixon has clearly done a fantastic job in less than a season in Fort Worth, and I think it is a great sign of what’s to come for the Horned Frogs. TCU has a chance at payback this weekend against Baylor. TCU hung with the Bears for the majority of their first meeting, but couldn’t pull off the win. If the Frogs can grab a hard fought road win in Waco, they really will grab national attention. I’m rooting for them to make noise, considering this is their first taste of success in quite some time, but only time will tell for them.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 @ Baylor
3. West Virginia (19-5, 7-4) [no change]
What is your deal, West Virginia? Home losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but holding serve against Kansas and Baylor? What is going on? Seriously, how can you dominate the two best teams in the conference, and combat it with bad losses? Well, I think it’s directly related to the inconsistent play of the “Press Virginia” style. It mucks up the game, and dilutes the actual basketball that gets played. However, when WVU plays teams with similar mindsets, they can get a true taste of their own medicine, and just expose weaknesses within their team. West Virginia needs to force the issue against K-State on Saturday and try to cement themselves atop the conference.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 vs. Kansas State
2. Baylor (21-3, 8-3) [no change]
Baylor is another team that makes me shake my head. They have shown that they can compete at a high level and beat some of the nation’s best teams, yet they just lost a home game to Kansas State. What’s up with that? Either you’re good, or you’re not, there is no in between in this game. There is no place for middle of the road play, or else you’ll get left in the dust. Baylor has a tough home test against TCU coming up, and if they play as poorly in that contest as they did against K-State, they’re in for some real trouble come March. Manu Lecomte and Johnathan Motley will have to show us why exactly this team was ranked #1 in the nation earlier in the year before I buy back into what the Bears are selling.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 vs. TCU
1. Kansas (21-3, 9-2) [no change]
Kansas is without a doubt one of the best teams in the nation. The only problem is that they have yet to totally take hold of the conference. Kansas has a one game lead over Baylor heading into the final 7 games of the season, and those games include matchups with Baylor (in Waco), and West Virginia at home. So, KU’s path is no cakewalk. The one glaring issue Kansas has to address is their defense. If Kansas can sure things up on the defensive side, they are one tough matchup for any team in the NCAA. Given KU’s high caliber offense, any type of solid defensive play would cement them in my mind as a national title front runner.
NEXT GAME: 2/11 @ Texas Tech