This week, we take our final look at the Big 12 Conference, as well as where teams stand as it pertains to positioning for the NCAA Tournament.
10. Oklahoma (9-18, 3-12) [no change]
The Sooners have a few winnable games left on their schedule as we head down the final stretch of the year. Starting on Saturday with Kansas State, Lon Kruger and Oklahoma have a shot to build momentum. This young team has had their fair share of struggles in a rebuilding year, but with a win or two in their final few regular season games, as well as a possible win in Kansas City, they can do wonders for the mindset of the program as their year comes to a close.
NCAA Tournament: WAY OUT
NEXT GAME: 2/25 vs. Kansas State
9. Texas (10-18, 4-11) [no change]
Texas is really in the same boat as Oklahoma. They have struggled for much of this season with a very young team. However, the Longhorns will not have as much of a winnable upcoming game, facing off against the newly re-crowned conference champion Jayhawks. Texas could always do something crazy and get an upset win, although I find it highly unlikely. If Texas can just play some respectable basketball in their final 3 regular season games, they will have a good chance to get to the quarter finals in Kansas City, and like Oklahoma, build some confidence heading into the off season.
NCAA Tournament: WAY OUT
NEXT GAME: 2/25 vs. Kansas
8. Texas Tech (17-11, 5-10) [-1]
Texas Tech has the mentality of the guy that always gets friend zoned. They continually make moves on the girls by playing close games against good teams, yet they have been largely unable to close the deal and walk out with a win. They’ll get another opportunity to break that trend this weekend against the hottest team in the league, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Their chances of reaching the postseason are slim now, but that’s nothing a few late wins can’t change. The final push starts now, but do they have one final push in them?
NCAA Tournament: Still work to do, NIT bound
NEXT GAME: 2/25 @ Oklahoma State
7. Kansas State (17-11, 6-9) [+1]
It is not looking good for Kansas State, although they did slide up a spot this week, which was because of the eye test. To me, they are a better team than Texas Tech. This team has tournament potential, and they have talent to double. For some reason though, possibly Bruce Weber, Kansas State just can’t get the wins they should have. Most recently, the Wildcats held a 14 point lead in the first half over Oklahoma State, only to collapse throughout the second half to lose by 12 to the Pokes. Any team that can hang with Oklahoma State has potential, and clearly ability. They just need to put it together for a consistent 40 minutes of basketball.
NCAA Tournament: Need to win out, NIT bound
NEXT GAME: 2/25 @ Oklahoma
6. TCU (17-11, 6-9) [no change]
TCU got beat around by Kansas the other night. This is no surprise, as many teams that go into Lawrence walk out with the same fate. TCU will walk out with a different feeling though. The Frogs had the Jayhawks right where they wanted them at the half, trailing by just a point before KU went on a big second half run to put it away. They showed their potential in that first half, and have shown it for much of this season. TCU has the talent level to make it into March, but will still need a few wins to solidify themselves. A win against West Virginia this weekend would do exactly that. If Vlad Brodziansky and company can manage to knock off Press Virginia, I think they are in for sure, but a close loss won’t exactly hurt them against the Mountaineers.
NCAA Tournament: Just barely in
NEXT GAME: 2/25 vs. West Virginia
5. Oklahoma State (19-9, 8-7) [no change]
Oklahoma State is as hot as the sun right now, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Something changed within them a few weeks ago, when they began their streak of wins that began their rise to the 5 spot. The Cowboys will take on Texas Tech this weekend, and have a chance to further improve their resume. I think that this team is armed and dangerous, might just win out to end the regular season, and have a solid chance at competing for a title in Kansas City in two weeks. First year coach Brad Underwood has his team playing their best ball of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.
NCAA Tournament: Solidly in
NEXT GAME: 2/25 vs. Texas Tech
4. Iowa State (18-9, 10-5) [no change]
Iowa State is just the tip of the iceberg when you look at the cluster from 2-4 in our rankings. All of these teams are extremely even in talent, it’s just that Iowa State hasn’t quite played as consistently for as long as the two squads ahead of them have. That being said, they are still very much in the conversation to contend for #2 in the league when it’s all said and done. Monte Morris and Deonte Burton have been one of the most dynamic duos in all of college basketball. Iowa State is also one of the best 3 point shooting teams in the league, and that is just part of what makes them so lethal.
NCAA Tournament: Solidly in
NEXT GAME: 2/25 vs. Baylor
3. Baylor (23-5, 10-5) [no change]
Baylor is sitting just above the Cyclones in my book because of their consistent play over the entirety of the season. Yet they have faltered as of late, losing twice to Kansas, as well as once to Kansas State and to Texas Tech. The Bears have a stacked interior infantry and compliment it with brilliant guard play, lead by Manu Lecomte. Scott Drew’s squad has shown they can compete with the best of the best, but haven’t completely shown that they can beat the best. They’ll need to flex those muscles and get a few big wins to finish conference play and improve their seeding for the tournament.
NCAA Tournament: Can play into the 1 line
NEXT GAME: 2/25 @ Iowa State
2. West Virginia (22-6, 10-5) [no change]
Huggiebear’s team finishes in second in our Big 12 rankings. Their crazy fast paced pressure oriented defense caused issues for so many teams throughout this season. West Virginia’s year was highlighted by a big win over Kansas at home, but that high was met with a low when the Mountaineers blew a 14 point lead with 2 minutes to go in Lawrence. The game brought to attention just how bad West Virginia could play, but it also brought to attention how talented they are capable of being as well. I think that if West Virginia was able to dominate Kansas as much as they did, they’re just as good as about any other team in the nation. They just have to find a way to close out games without royal collapses.
NCAA Tournament: Hovering around the 4 line
NEXT GAME: 2/25 @ TCU
1. Kansas (25-3, 13-2) [no change]
Here they are. The Champions. Once again. 13 consecutive Big 12 titles. This is a streak that is truly remarkable given the talent and competition that is within the conference year in and year out. Kansas isn’t always far and away the best team, they just continue to win the big games and command the league, and the conference title continues to run through Lawrence. Frank Mason, Josh Jackson and Devonte’ Graham run the show for a surprisingly thin Kansas squad that typically goes no more than 6 or 7 deep. As thin as they are, however, they continue to win games and out tough the opposition. This Kansas team may be one of the best we have seen under Bill Self, and I expect them to contend for a national title in March.
NCAA Tournament: Solid 1 seed
NEXT GAME: 2/25 @ Texas
The Big 12 Tournament is approaching, weigh in with me on Twitter @JBane87.
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Feature photo courtesy of USA Today.