The Big 12 Conference’s first week with a full slate certainly brought its share of terrific games. A couple of schools have surprised as well, and for one major program, not in a good way.
1) Kansas (3-0, 15-1). It was a big week for the Jayhawks as they had three games. Despite winning all three, they didn’t play all that well in any of them. They needed a last second bank shot 3-pointer to send Iowa State into overtime, only led by two at half at Texas Tech, and only shot 38% Monday night at home against Baylor. Ben McLemore took home the Big 12 Player of the Week award, based on his late game heroics against ISU and the Jayhawks moved up to #4 nationally. Coming up: KU travels to Texas on Saturday to face a team in desperate need to get on track and then heads west for the first Sunflower Showdown match-up of the season.
2) Kansas State (2-0, 13-2). The Wildcats followed up their big home win last week against OSU with another strong performance against West Virginia on the road. Two late free throws and a last second blocked shot by Shane Southwell kept the ‘Cats undefeated in conference play. KSU has inched its way up the national rankings to #16. Coming up: It is a big week ahead for KSU. They travel to TCU tonight, then host the other two remaining undefeated teams in Oklahoma on Saturday and Kansas on Tuesday. This won’t be a make or break week for the Wildcats but if they at least split with OU and KU, or win both of these games in Bramlage, they will be legitimate challengers for the conference title.
3) Oklahoma (2-0, 11-3). The Sooners hosted their half of the Bedlam series this week and outlasted the Cowboys for a 9-point victory. Romero Osby led OU with 17. OU hasn’t impressed the AP voters much but a big win in Manhattan this weekend would attract some attention. Coming up: OU hosts Texas Tech tonight and travels to KSU for that big match-up on Saturday. Two wins should gain them some Top 25 votes.
4) Baylor (3-1, 11-5). The Bears faced the two weakest teams earlier in the week, handling Texas Tech easily in Lubbock and enduring TCU at home. They battled the Jayhakws on the road Monday, dropping that big game. Baylor, as usual, is incredibly athletic and Coach Scott Drew appears to have dropped his 1-3-1 zone in favor of a man-to-man defense, with better results. Their length and athleticism will cause a lot of problems for teams. Coming up: The Bears play a non-entity non conference foe on Saturday before hosting OSU at home for Big Monday, in what promises to be an entertaining showdown.
5) Iowa State (1-1, 11-4). The Cyclones had the most eye-opening week out of all of the schools, despite splitting their two games. They took Kansas to overtime in Lawrence, before falling to the Jayhawks, and then they thumped Texas by 20 in Ames. Conference Rookie of the Week Georges Niang looks like a star in the making for the Cyclones, leading them against the Longhorns with 18. Coming up: ISU hosts an unpredictable West Virginia team tonight before traveling to TCU Saturday. Two wins this week will put ISU right in the thick of the conference race.
6) Oklahoma State (1-2, 11-4). The Cowboys have had a rough start to conference play, having to play two tough road games right off the bat. Last week, they fell in Manhattan and this week, after beating TCU handily, they lost a battle in Norman to the cross state rival Sooners. In the midst of all this, they had to deal with the death of Patsy Sutton, the wife of long time OSU coach, Eddie Sutton. Things can only look up for OSU. Coming up: OSU hosts Tech on Saturday before playing on Big Monday in Waco. OSU needs to take of business at home and need a big win on the road. They are a dangerous team that has had to deal with a tough early season road schedule.
7) Texas Tech (1-2, 8-6). I have a feeling it is going to be a long season for the Red Raiders. They only averaged 47 points in their two losses at home this week against KU and Baylor. The road for them is just going to get harder. Coming up: Tech travels north this week to take on both Bedlam schools on the road. Don’t look for any Red Raider victories this week.
8) West Virginia (1-2, 8-7). The Mountaineers have experienced a strange introduction to the new conference. They have lost both of their home games, including a heart breaker this past weekend against Kansas State, and won on the road against a struggling Texas squad. Coach Bob Huggins can’t be happy with how things are playing out in his return to the Big 12. Coming up: Tonight, West Virginia has to go to Ames – never an easy trip, especially when the Cyclones are playing well. On Saturday, West Virginia gets a break from conference play when they play at Purdue.
9) TCU (0-3, 9-7). The Horned Frogs haven’t had any success yet in their new conference either. This past week, OSU and Baylor didn’t have much trouble with them. TCU is going to have trouble scoring against the big boys. They may be able to steal a win or two because their tough defense may throw a team off their game but there just doesn’t seem to be much chance of success in sight. Coming up: TCU hosts the Wildcats tonight and the Cyclones on Saturday.
10) Texas (0-3, 8-8). Ah, the Longhorns – the biggest surprise in the conference. Texas lost to WVA at home this week by 4 and by 20 on the road at ISU. Roster losses via graduation, NBA draft, and NCAA suspensions have finally taken their toll on Texas but it’s still shocking they could fall this far, this fast. It will be interesting to see if they can recover in time to make some noise in the conference race. Coming up: Texas hosts the Jayhawks on Saturday and have a full week to prepare. Maybe Coach Rick Barnes will be able to come up with a successful game plan. After KU, Texas then has to bounce back and play at Oklahoma on Monday. It is going to be a tough recovery.
That’s it for week two in the Big 12 Conference. There are plenty of big games to get excited about this week and some teams need to find a way to turn things around. It will be interesting to watch if it remains the have and have-nots as it has played out thus far.