Baylor: The Bears are one of the country’s six remaining undefeated teams. At 12-0, they’ve matched their best start in school history. Baylor has defeated five teams (West Virginia, St. Mary’s, Brigham Young, Northwestern and San Diego State) that have a legitimate chance to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. It’s biggest test of the season comes Wednesday vs. Mississippi State in Dallas.
Missouri: Frank Haith’s Tigers blew a 13-point lead in the second half against Illinois last week before making some key shots down the stretch in a 78-74 win against the best team they’ve played this season. Kim English is shooting 53 percent from 3-point range for the undefeated Tigers, who wrap up non-league play Friday at Old Dominion.
Kansas State: The Wildcats are for real. Eight days after defeating then-No. 21 Alabama, Kansas State mule-kicked a solid Long Beach State squad 77-60 in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic. Rodney McGruder scored 28 points for the Wildcats, who are 10-1 with the only loss coming in overtime against West Virginia.
Kansas: Thomas Robinson (17.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg) has been solid, but his teammates are struggling with consistency. Tyshawn Taylor is averaging 4.2 turnovers a game, and it’s obvious head coach Bill Self has zero confidence in his bench. This team will get better -- Self’s teams always do -- but hopes of an eighth-straight Big 12 title may be a stretch for a team that lost to Davidson last week.
Oklahoma: Lon Kruger has turned in one of the finest coaching jobs in the country thus far. The Sooners will take a 9-1 record into Thursday’s game at Cincinnati. Steven Pledger is averaging 19.8 points and shooting 49 percent from beyond the arc. Point guard Sam Grooms, a junior college transfer, is dishing out 5.2 assists per game.
Iowa State: The Cyclones have bounced back from a pair of disappointing early season losses (to Drake and Northern Iowa) and have now won four straight, including an 86-76 victory over Iowa. This is one of the Big 12’s upper echelon teams in terms of pure talent. The biggest question is whether the Cyclones can develop good enough chemistry to compete with the league’s top dogs.
Texas: Rick Barnes’ squad had won seven straight games by double digits before getting worked over in an 82-63 loss to North Carolina on Dec. 23. Texas’ youth and lack of size will threaten the Longhorns’ streak of 13 straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Texas A&M: Much like Vanderbilt, Memphis and Arizona, the Aggies were clearly overhyped during the preseason. Five days after a 20-point loss to Florida, Texas A&M suffered an embarrassing home loss against Rice on Thursday. The setback snapped a 67-game home nonconference winning streak.
Oklahoma State: At 6-5, the Cowboys have been the Big 12’s biggest disappointment thus far. Oklahoma State will take a three-game losing streak into Wednesday’s game against SMU in Dallas. Included in that stretch is Wednesday’s 17-point defeat against an Alabama squad that was without top player JaMychal Green.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders may have trouble escaping the Big 12 cellar this season. Texas Tech has dropped five of its last seven games, including a 16-point drubbing by Oral Roberts. Freshman Jordan Tolbert has been a bright spot. The forward is averaging 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds despite playing just 20.5 minutes per game.