There are few, if any, truly great college basketball teams in the NCAA this year. In no conference in the country was this fact highlighted more so than in the Big 12 Conference this week when a team with zero wins in league play handily defeated the number five team in the nation. TCU’s manhandling of a hapless Kansas squad last week was not only the biggest upset in a season of upsets all over the country, but also the biggest upset in the history of the Big 12. Much happened this past week and all that was accomplished was to compact the standings. If West Virginia beats Baylor tonight, seven schools will be within 2 games of first place in the conference standings.
1) Kansas (8-3, 20-4) – What a week for the Jayhawks. They followed up their first league loss of the season last week by following apart and losing to the last place Horned Frogs. Things didn’t improve much after another loss in Norman. On the ropes, KU faced down Kansas State in Lawrence Monday night and controlled the game throughout. It will be interesting to see if their 3 game slide was just a hiccup for a very good team, or proof that the Jayhawks really aren’t that good. Coming Up: KU hosts the struggling Longhorns on Saturday.
2) Kansas State (8-3, 19-5) – The Wildcats started the week on fire by winning in Lubbock and avenging an earlier loss to Iowa State. The ISU victory extended KSU’s winning streak to four but that was halted in a jarring fashion against KU on Monday. Kansas State is tied for the league lead so, as long as they take care of their own business, they will still have a chance to to win the league title. Coming Up: KSU gets the chance to bounce back with two home games this week against Baylor on Saturday and West Virginia on Monday.
3) Oklahoma State (7-3, 17-5) – No team may be more in the driver’s seat down the stretch than the Cowboys. They trail the two Sunflower State schools by half a game and they get to host both teams before it is over. If they can win both of those match-ups, they can take the conference championship. OSU stayed hot this week by beating Baylor and Texas to remain close to the top. Marcus Smart took home the honors for Big 12 Rookie of the Week for his work against the Longhorns and Bears. Coming Up: A win tonight against Texas Tech will put OSU in a tie with KU and KSU. Saturday, the Bedlam series rejoins in Stillwater when the Sooners come calling.
4) Oklahoma (7-4, 16-7) – The Sooners are not ready to be dismissed from the title race. They suffered a rough loss in Ames but recovered nicely to take out Kansas on Saturday and TCU Monday. Only a game off the lead, a hot streak could make the dark horse Sooners a champion. Coming Up: OU has a big one this week. They play in-state rival Oklahoma State Saturday in Stillwater. Both schools need this one to stay with the leaders as the season begins to wind down. A victory against the Cowboys would certainly pad OU’s NCAA resume.
5) Iowa State (6-4, 16-7) – The Cyclones just can’t seem to find any consistency or get on any extended winning streaks. They handled the Sooners easily at home but turned the ball over 26 times in a loss in Manhattan. ISU is 2 wins behind the leaders; they can’t afford to drop any further behind. Coming Up: The Cyclones play the bottom two teams this week and cannot lose to either if they intend to stay in contention for the championship. Their NCAA resume can not take a loss to one of these teams either. ISU needs to just go out and play well to stay in the the thick of things.
6) Baylor (6-4, 15-8) – The Bears were expected to be a top team in the conference this year but they have been plagued by inconsistency. They came up short by 2 points in overtime in Stillwater on Wednesday in one of the best conference games of the year. They trounced Tech at home this weekend. The Bears are stuck in the middle of the standings and can ill afford more losses. Coming Up: Two must wins for Baylor this week – at home tonight against the streaking Mountaineers and on the road against the league leading Wildcats on Saturday. Just like many of these schools, BU needs wins, not just to stay in the conference race but with an eye on a NCAA bid as well.
7) West Virginia (5-5, 12-11) – The Mountaineers are a win away tonight in Waco from crawling back to within 2 games of the league leaders. West Virginia is winning the games they are supposed to and this week was no different as they gained victories over Texas and TCU. All five of the Mountaineers wins have come against the three teams presently below them in the standings. This pattern needs to be halted tonight with a big win in Waco. Coming Up: WVU is riding a 3 game winning streak into tonight’s match-up with Baylor. They get Tech at home this weekend before having to travel to Manhattan Monday. This is as important a week as West Virginia has yet had in their new conference and they need three big wins to have even a glimmer of hope.
8) Texas (2-8, 10-13) – It’s been a long season for the Longhorns. Another week, another loss, this time to the Cowboys. Not much has gone right for Rick Barnes’ squad this season. There is one bright spot. Tonight against Iowa State, sophomore Myck Kabongo will make his season debut. Kabongo was given a ridiculous 23 game suspension for rules violations, causing Texas to be short one of their main components all season. Hopefully, Kabongo can have a positive last few weeks to remove the sourness of the situation just a little. Coming Up: Things won’t be easy for Kabongo and his mates. ISU visits tonight and Texas gets KU in Lawrence on Saturday. At this point, the Longhorns are just looking to finish strong so they can end the season on a positive note.
9) Texas Tech (2-8, 9-12) – The Red Raiders continue to struggle this season. They have barely remained competitive and they took another loss last week against Baylor. Coming Up: Tech tries to turn things around this week at home against OSU and at West Virginia.
10) TCU (1-10, 10-14) – The Horned Frogs have been totally irrelevant all season but for one night last week, TCU had the attention of the whole basketball world for one night when they knocked off the #5 team in the nation at home. The Horned Frogs sent the Jayhawks home with their head spinning as TCU pulled off maybe the biggest upset in conference history. Not much has gone right for coach Trent Johnson and his team but they had one great night the coaching staff and players will never forget. For his mighty efforts against Kansas, Horned Frog senior Connell Crossland was awarded the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week. Coming Up: It is back to reality for TCU as they must travel to Ames to take on Iowa State on Saturday.
WVU vs. BU, Wednesday, 8pm
OU vs. OSU, Saturday, 6pm
BU vs. KSU, Saturday, 6pm
Topics: Basketball, Baylor Bears, 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