While Kansas, now ranked #1 in the national coaches’ poll, continues to win, some of the next tier is starting to beat up on one another. Teams know they cannot let the Jayhawks, or the Bears for that matter, get too far ahead if they want to have a chance at winning the conference. There is still a lot of basketball to be played in conference but teams must stay within a striking distance of the top if they want to knock Kansas off their pedestal.
1) Kansas (7-0, 19-1) – The Jayhawks are not playing particularly well right now, especially on offense, but just well enough to win. KU turned in a workmanlike performance over the weekend at home against the Sooners and then held off a determined effort by the Mountaineers in their first trip ever to Morgantown Monday. The Jayhawks have a nation leading 18-game winning streak but need to play better if they want it to continue. Coming Up: Kansas hosts Self’s Alma mater this weekend as the Cowboys come to visit.
2) Baylor (5-1, 14-5) – The Bears easily won one they were supposed to, knocking off TCU on the road. Pierre Jackson was named the Big 12 Player of the Week for his efforts against OSU and TCU. Jackson continues to lead the conference in scoring for the Bears. Coming Up: This is a big week for Baylor as they get Oklahoma in Waco tonight before heading north to take on Iowa St. in Ames. Both opponents this week are in the hunt for second right now, trying to pull Baylor down a spot or two in the standings.
3) Kansas State (4-2, 15-4) – The Wildcats took their second straight tough loss. Travelling to Ames is never easy for opponents and KSU found the Cyclones fired up. It was a good, closely fought contest but KSU ended up on the wrong end of the score. Coming Up: It is seldom easy in the Big 12 and this week is no different for Kansas State. They host the Longhorns tonight, who won their first game of league play this weeks and would love to get on a roll. Saturday, The Wildcats must travel to Norman to take on the Sooners in what should be a tough match-up.
4) Iowa State (4-2, 14-5) – The Cyclones can ill afford to drop any more like the one they did in Lubbock this week. They shot poorly from 3-point range (6-23) and couldn’t overcome their lack of accuracy. If ISU is a bubble team, it doesn’t look good to lose games to weak teams, even on the road. ISU bounced back though, taking out the Wildcats at home on Saturday in a tight game. Will Clayburn, despite the loss early in the week, earned Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors. Coming Up: Two giant tests pop up this week for Iowa St. First, they have to go to Stillwater to play OSU, who is always stingy at home, then they play host to the number two team in the conference when the Bears come to town. The Cyclones could do much to improve their standing in the conference race with two big victories.
5) Oklahoma (4-2, 13-5) – The Sooners had a hard time trying to overcome KU’s front court Saturday in a loss on the road. OU will need to shoot better if they don’t want to fall off the pace set by the teams above them. Coming Up: Oklahoma needs a big week to keep pace and this one would be it. They visit Waco tonight then play KSU at home Saturday. These encounters with two of the top three teams could be make-or-break match-ups for the Sooners. Win both and OU is right in the thick of the conference race. Lose both and it will be a hard uphill battle from which to recover.
6) Oklahoma State (3-3, 13-5) – The Cowboys took care of business at home this week when the Mountaineers came to town, winning by 14. OSU never appeared to be in serious danger as they won a game they had to win. Coming Up: In a week where it seems all the best teams are playing each other, Oklahoma St. is no different. ISU comes to town tonight in a game the Cowboys have to view as a must-win. They cannot afford to drop any home games if they hope to make up ground in the standings. Saturday, they make the trip to Lawrence to take on the Jayhawks in Allen. OSU needs a big week to establish them as a threat in the conference standings. This would be the week.
7) Texas Tech (2-5, 9-9) – The Red Raiders are doing exactly what they need to do to steal some games. They are playing hard defense and trying to just outlast opponents at home. Just ask the Cyclones how effective that strategy can be. Tech earned their biggest win of the season by taking out ISU before falling to Texas on Saturday. Coming Up: Tech gets a couple of home games this week when WVU and KSU come to Lubbock. The Red Raiders will have to play their best to take down either team.
8) West Virginia (2-5, 9-11) – The Mountaineers just can’t get going in the right direction. They took it on the chin by double digits in Stillwater before falling to Kansas on Big Monday. WVU fought back at home against the Jayhawks after trailing by 15 by playing intense pressure defense but they just came up short. Coming Up: West Virginia could do much to right the ship this week. They get two very winnable games as they travel to Lubbock to face Tech and then host the Longhorns on Big Monday. Maybe the Mountaineers’ effort this last Monday will be the turning point in which Coach Bob Huggins has been searching.
9) Texas (1-5, 9-10) – The Longhorns finally got their much awaited initial conference victory this week at home against the Red Raiders. Texas fans hope this is the point where their team can get things going in the right direction. Coming Up: This may be the Longhorns’ biggest week of the season. They are slated for three contests, two of which are hard road trips. Tonight, they make the trip into the rowdy atmosphere in Manhattan. Saturday, the Horned Frogs come to Austin, and then Texas heads east to take on WVU on Big Monday. How they play on the road this week will do much to determine on how the Longhorns’ season will turn out. A clean sweep could edge Texas closer to the top half of the standings.
10) TCU (0-7, 9-11) – Few positives can be gained from lopsided losses to West Virginia and Baylor for the Horned Frogs. This program now has an idea what kind of athletes they need to recruit to compete in this league. Coming Up: TCU makes the short trip to Austin this week to challenge the Longhorns.
This may turn out to be one of the most important weeks of the seasons as several of the top schools play each other.
Key match-ups (all times CST):
OU vs. BU, Wednesday, 6 pm
ISU vs. OSU, Wednesday, 7 pm
OSU vs. KU, Saturday, 3 pm
KSU vs. OU, Saturday, 5 pm
BU vs. ISU, Saturday, 7 pm
Topics: Basketball, Baylor Bears, Big 12 Conference, College Basketball, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders, West Virginia Mountaineers