Oklahoma sweated out a hard earned win against Texas this week, but the Sooners are going to need a couple more than that if they want to get out of last in our rankings. They have an opportunity to go on the road and get a win against one of the hottest teams in the conference, Oklahoma State. That would not only be a huge upset, but a massive confidence boost for OU heading into the final stretch of games for them this season. In the first matchup of these two, Oklahoma gave up a last second three by Phil Forte to fall by 2 to the Pokes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sooners used that close loss as a big motivator going into Saturday.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 @ Oklahoma State
9. Texas (10-16, 4-9) [no change]
Following a big win over Iowa State, Texas has now lost back to back games, and they are in need of a good win to try and get into higher conference position for the tournament. They have that chance against a struggling Kansas State team this weekend. In their first meeting, to open conference play, Texas tried to mount a second half comeback but fell short in Manhattan, losing by 3. If Jarrett Allen can perform up to his potential, as he has for much of this season, I don’t see why Texas shouldn’t grab a big home win against the Wildcats this weekend.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 vs. Kansas State
8. Kansas State (16-10, 5-8) [-1]
Losers of 6 of their last 7, Kansas State is currently in the midst of a tailspin, and are continuing to see their tournament chances dwindle. K-State has a very favorable schedule remaining for this season. The first of which will be no walk in the park, a road game against Texas. If the Cats can pull that win off, however, they may just set themselves up for a big finish. Senior Wesley Iwundu has been pacing K-State lately, with a nice supporting cast of other young guys like Dean Wade and Barry Brown. Brown led the Cats with 21 in a loss against Iowa State this past week. The Wildcats’ energy man and force inside, DJ Johnson, is battling an ankle injury, and his health will play a big part in how Kansas State will finish the year.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 @ Texas
7. Texas Tech (17-9, 5-8) [+1]
Let’s face it, the reason we all love college basketball is for the madness, the upsets, and the crazy games. Texas Tech pulled off one of those upsets this week, knocking off Baylor and grabbing Tech’s biggest win of the year. Now, the Red Raiders will try to keep the ball rolling when they take on an angry West Virginia squad in Morgantown. Tech beat the Mountaineers in Lubbock earlier this season, but West Virginia will have that in the front of their minds when they take on Keenan Evans and company. Tech will have to handle the Press Virginia defense to get the big road win. Turnovers will be the key decider in this game, and if Texas Tech can manage their offense cleanly, they’ll be right in this one.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 @ West Virginia
6. TCU (17-9, 6-7) [-2]
Not too long ago, TCU was rising fast on our board. They’ve since fallen off a little bit, but that is no reason to think badly of this team. They have exceeded expectations on a ridiculous level this season, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are a tournament team. Their next test is an Iowa State team whom they defeated down in Fort Worth in game one. TCU will try to recreate that big win, and fight off the Hilton Magic this week. If the Frogs can pull off this big road win, you can officially mark them down as having their tickets punched. They already have enough quality wins to be in the field come March, but a win in Ames will only solidify their prospects. I will continue to praise Jamie Dixon for the job he’s done in year one, and I’m excited for what’s to come in Fort Worth.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 @ Iowa State
5. Oklahoma State (17-9, 6-7) [+1]
Oklahoma State continues to be one of the hottest teams in the country, and without a doubt the hottest team in the Big 12. Brad Underwood’s men have developed into one of the most high octane offenses in college basketball. The Cowboys will look to complete the season sweep over in state rivals Oklahoma.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 vs. Oklahoma
4. Iowa State (16-9, 8-5) [+1]
With back to back wins to bounce back from a disappointing loss at Texas, Iowa State looks to be back on track. They have pieced together a solid season, but need just a few more quality wins to spice up their resume. The Cyclones fell to TCU in Fort Worth earlier this season, but will look to put that doubt away with a win against a dark horse Horned Frogs team this weekend. Monte Morris and Deonte Burton have shown just what makes this ISU team so dangerous. With their ability to shoot the basketball, they are a tough matchup for any team. Their hot shooting, combined with their veteran leadership, leads me to believe this Iowa State team is trending upwards for March.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 vs. TCU
3. Baylor (22-4, 9-4) [-1]
Baylor has been burned a few too many times by lower competition this season. Their latest issue, a loss in Lubbock to a hungry Texas Tech, was further proof of the flaws this team has. Johnathan Motley is one of the best players in the Big 12, but Baylor’s lack of defensive prowess cost them late this past week. Tech fought back from a second half deficit and got buckets at will. Things like that cannot happen to teams looking to go deep into the tournament, and Baylor has had just one too many games like that for me to be confident in them. However, that could all change if the Bears can manage a win at home against conference front runner Kansas. Baylor nearly knocked off Kansas to begin February, and now they need a big home win to try and maintain their projected one seed status.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 vs. Kansas
2. West Virginia (20-6, 8-5) [+1]
West Virginia continues to impress me, although their collapse on Monday was one for the ages, I’m still rewarding the Mountaineers for one of the best games they’ve played this season. 38 minutes of nearly perfect basketball, but their 2 minutes to end regulation were some of the worst that they have probably played in over a year. The Mountaineers led Kansas for the vast majority of the game, yet coughed up a 14 point lead with just 2 minutes to go, and eventually completed their meltdown in overtime. As bad as the close to the game was, as I said before, the performance that came before it was one to take note of. If Bob Huggins and company get those closing errors fixed, watch out. Not many teams will be capable of hanging with Press Virginia.
NEXT GAME: 2/18 vs. Texas Tech
1. Kansas (23-3, 11-2) [no change]
Look who we have at the top yet again. The architects of some of the greatest basketball comebacks in history. The game on Monday night may have been the most impressive I have ever witnessed, with Devonte’ Graham nailing some of the most clutch baskets of his career, he helped get Kansas a massive come from behind win over the aforementioned West Virginia, and have given us just one more reason to pay a little closer attention to the Jayhawks in the final weeks of the season. Kansas will get their shot at round two against a tough Baylor squad down in Waco this weekend, and the Jayhawks will be looking to really put the clamps down on this Big 12 title race, where KU currently holds a 2 game lead over the Bears. With a win, the title is all but won for Bill Self and the Hawks.
NEXT GAME 2/18 @ Baylor
This race is heating up, but if you have input on the Big 12 title hunt, weigh in with me on Twitter @JBane87.