College Basketball Nation: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Appreciating the underappreciated

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
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North Carolina State forward T.J. Warren can’t catch much of a break. Even when I was ready to talk about how underappreciated he is nationally, he got overshadowed by Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre.

Miller-McIntyre made the game-winning basket to cap off a 20-point performance in the Demon Deacons’ 70-69 win Wednesday.

Miller-McIntyre ranks in the top 10 in assists (3.9) and field goal percentage (45.5.) in the ACC and is 11th in scoring at 15.6 points per game.

Warren does it all for the Wolfpack. He entered Wednesday leading the ACC in scoring at 22.2 points per game. He's fourth in field goal percentage at 50.5, sixth in rebounding with 7.5 per game and 10th with 1.6 steals per game.

With conference play just starting to heat up, it’s time to take a look at a few other players whose impressive seasons have gone underappreciated:

Xavier guard Semaj Christon scored a team-high 18 points in the Musketeers' win over Georgetown, while shooting an efficient 9-for-12 from the field. Christon leads the team in scoring (16.2 points) and ranks third in the Big East with 4.4 assists per game. But really, he just has a knack for making whatever play is needed at the time. Against the Hoyas, eight of his points and two of his three steals came during a run that brought the Musketeers back from a 17-point deficit to take the lead.

UMass center Cady Lalanne isn’t going to score in bunches -- his 19-point effort against George Mason notwithstanding -- but he’s a big reason the Minutemen are sitting at 15-1 and ranked 16th. He leads the team with 9.0 rebounds, but more importantly, he’s a shot-blocking deterrent in the middle of the lane. Lalanne averages 2.5 blocks per game, each of which has been crucial since the emphasis on freedom of movement has made it easier to get to the basket.

West Virginia guard Juwan Staten is truly running things in Morgantown. Talk about a do-it-all player: He leads the Big 12 with 6.1 assists per game, is tied for third with 17.4 points and ranks third in field goal percentage at 53.4. Despite being just 6-foot-1, Staten is second on the Mountaineers with a 5.9 rebounding average per game.

SMU guard Nic Moore functions in what could be the toughest work environment of any player on this list. Playing point guard for Larry Brown isn’t easy, but Moore is making it look that way, averaging 13.3 points and 4.6 assists per game. He’s second in the American with a 51.5 3-point field goal percentage.

Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 57.9 -- that was before he shot 7-of-12 for 19 points in the upset of Baylor Wednesday. His 14.4 points and 6.3 rebounds rank in the top 15 in the league in both categories.

New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow embraced his expanded scoring role this season and is second in the Mountain West averaging 20.0 points. Turnaround jumpers from the blocks, hook shots, step backs -- he does it all, which makes him difficult to defend because you don’t know what’s coming next. He was one shot short for the Lobos against UNLV Wednesday, scoring 27 points but missing what would have been a go-ahead basket with 35 seconds left.

Houston forward TaShawn Thomas is shooting 63 percent from the field en route to averaging 17 points per game. But his strength is rebounding (8.9) per game, which ranks second in the American.

California forward Richard Solomon is as dependable as it gets on the boards. He ranks 14th nationally in rebounding at 10.2 per game and has posted five double-doubles for the Bears this season. Who knows how well the Bears could have matched up with Syracuse had Solomon not injured his eye against Arkansas.

Video: No. 13 Iowa State 73, Texas Tech 62

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
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Georges Niang scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Iowa State's 73-62 victory over Texas Tech.

BPI Talk: Duke is not a top-25 team

December, 17, 2013
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The Duke Blue Devils came into the season as a preseason Final Four contender, but after losses to Kansas and Arizona and a one-point win over Vermont, the Blue Devils are ranked No. 31 in BPI.

Duke's BPI game score in its six-point loss against Arizona (ranked No. 4 in BPI) was higher than two of its wins (vs East Carolina, vs Vermont). Other than its wins over No. 40 Michigan and No. 63 Alabama, Duke doesn't have any other wins over teams ranked in the top 180.

Duke has the best adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, but its adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 101st.

Is Wisconsin the best team in college basketball?

The Wisconsin Badgers rank No. 1 in BPI after starting 12-0 with five wins over top-50 BPI teams -- St. John's, Florida, Saint Louis, West Virginia and Virginia. Their five wins against top-50 teams are the most by any team. Kansas and Davidson are the only other teams that have even faced five top-50 teams.

Wisconsin has the 11th-most difficult schedule according to BPI. Seven of their 12 wins are against top-100 opponents and none of them are against teams outside the top 175.

The Badgers have been successful playing a slow pace (17th-fewest possessions per game). Two of their three worst BPI game scores this season have come in the two games in which they played at the fastest pace (at Green Bay, vs North Dakota).

Michigan State barely cracks the top 25

The Michigan State Spartans, previously ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll, come in at No. 24 in BPI. The Spartans only have one loss, but it was by far their worst BPI game score and it came against their second-best opponent (No. 23 North Carolina).

Why else is Michigan State's BPI lacking? The Spartans have five wins against teams ranked outside the BPI top 100. Three of those wins are by 15 points or fewer, including two by single digits, and one of the five wins is against No. 338 McNeese State. Also, they haven't played a single true road game yet.

Welcome to the top 10, Saint Mary's

The undefeated Saint Mary's Gaels are ranked No. 8 in BPI, and it's not due to any wins over top-notch opponents. The Gaels haven't faced a single top-50 team yet, but five of their eight wins came against top-100 opponents and six of their eight wins are by double digits.

Saint Mary's has performed well against top-100 teams, posting a BPI game score higher than 95 in four of those five wins.

Why isn't Pittsburgh ranked yet?

The Pittsburgh Panthers are ranked No. 9 in BPI but aren't in the top 25 in the AP Poll. The Panthers are 10-0 with each of those 10 wins coming by at least nine points and nine of the wins coming by at least 17 points.

Pitt doesn't have any top-50 wins, but the Panthers do have two wins against teams just outside the top 50 (No. 51 Penn State, No. 55 Stanford). Their three best BPI game scores came against their three best opponents -- Penn State, Stanford and Texas Tech (No. 110).

Pitt is one of seven teams ranked in the top 20 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, along with Louisville, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas and North Carolina.

BPI Rankings

Big 12 team previews

October, 25, 2013
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For the past month, Insider has rolled out its college basketball preview, including breakdowns on every Division I team, projected order of finish for every conference and essays from Insider's hoops experts.

Here are previews for each team in the Big 12:

Baylor Bears Insider
Iowa State Cyclones Insider
Kansas Jayhawks Insider
Kansas State Wildcats Insider
Oklahoma Sooners Insider
Oklahoma State Cowboys Insider
TCU Horned Frogs (FREE)
Texas Longhorns Insider
Texas Tech Red Raiders Insider
West Virginia Mountaineers Insider

Nonconference schedule analysis: Big 12

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
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This week, ESPN.com is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each team in nine of the nation’s top leagues. Next up: the Big 12.

BAYLOR

Toughest: vs. Colorado (Nov. 8 in Dallas), Maui Invitational (Nov. 25-27), vs. Kentucky (Dec. 6 in Arlington, Texas)
Next-toughest: South Carolina (Nov. 12), Southern (Dec. 22)
The rest: Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 17), Charleston Southern (Nov. 20), Hardin-Simmons (Dec. 1), Northwestern State (Dec. 18), Oral Roberts (Dec. 30), Savannah State (Jan. 3)

Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- The Bears will try to beat Kentucky for the second season in a row when they take on the Wildcats at the mammoth AT&T Stadium -- home of the Dallas Cowboys. Catching a freshman-laden Kentucky squad early in the season is ideal for the Bears. Baylor also will have a chance to avenge last season’s loss to Colorado in the Charleston Classic. Scott Drew’s squad meets the Buffaloes as part of a season-opening tripleheader at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Baylor has an excellent shot of getting to the title game in Maui. The Bears open against Chaminade and will likely face a vulnerable Gonzaga squad (the Zags lost Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris) in the semifinals. A victory in that contest could result in a showdown against Syracuse in the championship game.

IOWA STATE

Toughest: Michigan (Nov. 17), at BYU (Nov. 20), Iowa (Dec. 13)
Next-toughest: vs. Northern Iowa (Dec. 7 in Des Moines), Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-23, 25 in Honolulu)
The rest: UNC-Wilmington (Nov. 10), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 12), UMKC (Nov. 25), Auburn (Dec. 2), Northern Illinois (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- The Cyclones play just one true road game, but it’s a tough one, as BYU touts one of the best home courts in the country. The Cougars should be pretty salty, too, after reaching the semifinals of the NIT last spring. No game on the schedule, though, jumps out quite like Iowa State’s home tilt with NCAA runner-up Michigan, who returns many of the key pieces from last season’s squad. Hilton Magic will have to be in full effect if the Cyclones, who are incorporating a plethora of new faces, are to have a chance against the Wolverines. Iowa State opens the Diamond Head Classic against George Mason and will likely play either Akron or Oregon State in the semifinals. Don’t be surprised if Fred Hoiberg’s squad ends up in the title game against Boise State.

KANSAS

Toughest: vs. Duke (Nov. 12 in Chicago), at Colorado (Dec. 7), at Florida (Dec. 10), New Mexico (Dec. 14), Georgetown (Dec. 21), San Diego State (Jan. 5)
Next-toughest: Iona (Nov. 19), Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 28-30 in Nassau, Bahamas)
The rest: Louisiana-Monroe (Dec. 8), Towson (Nov. 22), Toledo (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 10 -- There may not be a team in America with a slate as difficult as the one staring at Andrew Wiggins and the Jayhawks. Duke and Florida are both top five-caliber teams, and Kansas faces each of them away from home. Even more daunting is that both games occur extremely early in the season, when a team featuring as many as six freshmen in its rotation will still be trying to find itself. New Mexico, Georgetown and San Diego State will each take a minor step back from last season, but they should all still be excellent teams, especially the Lobos. Kansas opens the Battle 4 Atlantis against Wake Forest and will play either USC or Villanova in the second round. Event organizers are surely hoping for a title game featuring the Jayhawks against either Tennessee or Iowa. Even nonconference opponents such as Iona, Towson and Louisiana-Monroe will be in the mix for an NCAA tournament berth.

KANSAS STATE

Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 21-22, 24), vs. Gonzaga (Dec. 21 in Wichita, Kan.)
Next-toughest: Long Beach State (Nov. 17), Ole Miss (Dec. 5)
The rest: Northern Colorado (Nov. 8), Oral Roberts (Nov. 13), Central Arkansas (Dec. 1), South Dakota (Dec. 10), Troy (Dec. 15), vs. Tulane (Dec. 28 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), George Washington (Dec. 31)

Toughness scale (1-10): 4 -- This is a pretty disappointing slate, especially considering how good the program has been over the past five or six years. Other than a tilt with Gonzaga in Wichita -- which will basically be a K-State home game -- the Wildcats don’t have a single opponent on their nonconference schedule that raises an eyebrow. The one exception would be Ole Miss, but the Rebels lost most of the key players from last season’s NCAA tournament team. The Wildcats open the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against Charlotte and will play either Georgetown or Northeastern the following day. Michigan, VCU and Florida State are on the other side of the bracket, so the potential for a game against another top team exists. Still, the defending regular-season Big 12 co-champs should have scheduled a few more marquee games.

OKLAHOMA

Toughest: vs. Alabama (Nov. 8 in Dallas), Coaches vs. Cancer Tipoff (Nov. 22-23 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Next-toughest: vs. George Mason (Dec. 8 in Washington, D.C.), vs. Texas A&M (Dec. 21 in Houston), Louisiana Tech (Dec. 30)
The rest: North Texas (Nov. 11), Idaho (Nov. 13), Arkansas-Little Rock (Dec 29), Mercer (Dec. 2), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 5), Tulsa (Dec. 14), Texas-Arlington (Dec. 17)

Toughness scale (1-10): 3 -- Not a lot of games on this docket that do much for the excite-o-meter. At least not when it comes to nonconference play. That’s probably a good thing for the Sooners, who may be in for a “transition year” following the loss to standouts such as Romero Osby, Steven Pledger, Andrew Fitzgerald and Amath M’Baye. Alabama will be tough to beat, but it’s certainly a game the Sooners could win. Lon Kruger’s squad will also be tested when it travels to Brooklyn for the Coaches vs. Cancer Tipoff. If Oklahoma gets by Seton Hall in the first round, it would likely play Michigan State the following night. Some media outlets have ranked the Spartans No. 1 entering the season.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Toughest: Memphis (Nov. 19), Old Spice Classic (Nov. 28-29, Dec. 1 in Orlando. Fla.), vs. Colorado (Dec. 21 in Las Vegas)
Next-toughest: at South Florida (Nov. 25), South Carolina (Dec. 6), vs. Louisiana Tech (Dec. 14 in Oklahoma City)
The rest: Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 8), Utah Valley (Nov. 12), Arkansas Pine-Bluff (Nov. 15), Delaware State (Dec. 17), Robert Morris (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- This is definitely an improvement from last season, when the Cowboys earned a ranking of “3” in this category. Like Oklahoma State, Memphis is a potential top-10 team with one of the top backcourts in the country. The two squads could actually end up meeting twice, as Memphis is also in the Old Spice Classic. Oklahoma State opens that tournament against Purdue and will face Butler or Washington State in the next round. Beating Colorado on a neutral court also won’t be easy, especially if talented Buffs guard Spencer Dinwiddie can neutralize Marcus Smart. It still would’ve been nice to see a few more high-profile games -- and a few more true road contests -- for a team that features three potential first-round NBA draft picks.

TCU

Toughest: vs. SMU (Nov. 8 in Dallas), at Washington State (Nov. 24)
Next-toughest: Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 27, 29-30), at Mississippi State (Dec. 5)
The rest: Longwood (Nov. 12), Abilene Christian (Nov. 19), Texas Pan-American (Dec. 15), Grambling State (Dec. 19), Tulsa (Dec. 21), Texas Southern (Dec. 29)

Toughness scale (1-10): 3 -- This would be a terrible schedule for a program that was experiencing a moderate amount of success. But considering TCU won just two Big 12 games last season, this is the perfect slate for the Horned Frogs as they try to rebuild. Second-year coach Trent Johnson didn’t schedule the type of Top-25 squads that will shatter his team's confidence. But he also didn't produce a schedule so weak that it wouldn’t challenge his team as it continues to grow. SMU could contend for an NCAA tournament berth and, even though Washington State has struggled in recent seasons, Pullman is a difficult place to play. Tulsa and Texas Southern are both solid teams, and Mississippi State was making huge strides at the end of last season.

TEXAS

Toughest: CBE Classic (Nov. 25-26 in Kansas City), at Temple (Dec. 7), at North Carolina (Dec. 18), Michigan State (Dec. 21)
Next-toughest: Mercer (Nov. 8), Vanderbilt (Dec. 2)
The rest: Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 15), UT-Arlington (Nov. 29), Texas State (Dec. 14), Rice (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- Rick Barnes always puts together one of the toughest schedules in the country, and this season is no exception. Michigan State is an NCAA title contender, North Carolina could open the season in the top 10, and Temple is never easy to beat on the road. The Longhorns will also play high-scoring BYU in the CBE Classic, and with a win, would likely be pitted against Final Four participant Wichita State in the title game. But Texas lost its top four scorers from last seasons’s 16-18 squad and didn’t recruit as well as it has in years past. In other words, this is the worst possible season to be playing such a grueling schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if the Longhorns (and Barnes) can survive.

TEXAS TECH

Toughest: at Alabama (Nov. 14), at Arizona (Dec. 3), LSU (Dec. 18), at Arizona State (Dec. 21)
Next-toughest: South Dakota State (Nov. 21), Legends Classic (Nov. 25-26 in Brooklyn, N.Y.)
The rest: Houston Baptist (Nov. 8), Northern Arizona (Nov. 11), Texas Southern (Nov. 18), Texas-San Antonio (Nov. 29), Central Arkansas (Dec. 15), Mount St. Mary’s (Dec. 30)

Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- First-year coach Tubby Smith can’t be pleased with the schedule he inherited from former Red Raiders coach Chris Walker. This is way too difficult of a slate for a program that’s in rebuilding mode. It clearly wasn’t thought out well at all. True road games against Alabama, Arizona and Arizona State and a home tilt with a vastly improved LSU squad? That’s a daunting chore, especially considering TTU is in the Legends Classic with quality opponents such as Pittsburgh, Stanford and Houston. Texas Tech returns nearly all of its key pieces from last season and could make some huge strides under Smith. Unfortunately, the Red Raiders’ confidence could take a hit before Big 12 play ever begins.

WEST VIRGINIA

Toughest: at Missouri (Dec. 5), Gonzaga (Dec. 10), Purdue (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: at Virginia Tech (Nov. 12), Cancun Challenge (Nov. 26-27), vs. Marshall (Dec. 14 in Charleston, W. Va.)
The rest: Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 8), Duquesne (Nov. 17), Georgia Southern (Nov. 21), Presbyterian (Nov. 23), Loyola (Dec. 2), William & Mary (Dec. 29 in Charleston, W. Va.)

Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- The 2012-13 season was one of the worst of Bob Huggins’ career, but the Mountaineers are hoping a standout recruiting class led by power forwards Devin Williams and Elijah Macon -- as well as the return of leading scorer Eron Harris -- helps change their fortunes. There are certainly some opportunities to build confidence early. Missouri and Gonzaga are both incorporating new pieces and may not be crisp in early December. Purdue should be improved, but West Virginia will have revenge on its mind after last season’s 79-52 embarrassment in West Lafayette, Ind. West Virginia opens the Cancun Challenge against Old Dominion and could play Wisconsin the following day.

Bracket reveal: Legends Classic

July, 16, 2013
7/16/13
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Editor's Note: Over two days, we're releasing the brackets/matchups for 11 of the top early-season events. Starting Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET, we'll unveil the final six: Charleston, 2K Sports, Diamond Head, CBE, Wooden and Maui. A thread of previews and info for all 11 tourneys can be found here.

When and where: Nov. 25-26 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Semifinal schedule for the Legends Classic:

Nov. 25: Pittsburgh vs. Texas Tech (7:30 p.m., ESPN2); Stanford vs. Houston (9:30, ESPN2)
Nov. 26: Consolation game (7 p.m., ESPN3); Championship game (9:30, ESPNU)

Initial thoughts: Three of these four programs are in a state of flux. Texas Tech is in its first season under Tubby Smith. Houston -- although it won 20 games last season -- is still attempting to work its way back into relevancy. And Pittsburgh is dealing with the loss of four of its top players (Steven Adams, Tray Woodall, Trey Zeigler and J.J. Moore). Stanford appears to be on solid footing, as it returns virtually all of the key pieces from a 2012-13 squad that showed flashes of brilliance but could never develop any consistency. It will be a disappointment if the Cardinal doesn't make the NCAA tournament this season.

Matchup I can’t wait to see: Stanford vs. Houston. Don’t sleep on the Cougars. Even though standout shooting guard Joseph Young transferred to Oregon, Houston is hardly short on talent. TaShawn Thomas is a beast down low and wing Danuel House -- a former top-25 recruit -- should make huge strides as a sophomore. Houston's coaching staff is crossing its fingers that Baylor transfer L.J. Rose, a point guard, will receive a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play immediately. It will be interesting to see how the Cougars fare against a veteran Stanford team led by 6-foot-10 forward Dwight Powell and guard Chasson Randle.

[+] EnlargeHouston's TaShawn Thomas
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsHouston's TaShawn Thomas averaged 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season.
Potential matchup I’d like to see: Stanford vs. Texas Tech. I realize a Stanford-Pittsburgh title game may sound a bit more sexy. But the Panthers took such a big hit with offseason departures that I’ll be surprised if Jamie Dixon’s squad is clicking this early in the season. Even though it will be playing for a new coach, Texas Tech returns the majority of a roster that was showing some positive signs toward the end of last season.

Five players to watch:

Jaye Crockett, Texas Tech: Crockett is the leading returning scorer (11.9) and rebounder (6.5) for a Red Raiders squad that went just 11-20 last season. The 6-foot-7 forward shot 49.8 percent from the field. The third-year starter will have to perform even better this season for Texas Tech to take a significant step. Junior Jordan Tolbert is just as big of a threat down low.

Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh: Patterson, who averaged 10 points last season, is the Panthers’ leading returning scorer. The 6-foot-5 small forward attempted nearly half of his shots (111 of 248) from 3-point range. He’ll be the go-to guy on a squad that’s incorporating a lot of new parts.

Dwight Powell, Stanford: Powell averaged 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season on a balanced team. The versatile big man has a nice touch on his shot -- he made 80 percent of his free throws -- that allows him to score from almost anywhere. And he possesses a nice arsenal of moves in the paint.

Chasson Randle, Stanford: The guard averaged 13.6 points per game last season but shot just 40 percent from the field and only 36 percent from 3-point range. His shot selection isn’t always the best, but Randle is one of the most dangerous players in the Pac-12 when he’s “on.”

TaShawn Thomas, Houston: The 6-foot-8 forward was one of the most underrated big men in the country in 2012-13. He averaged 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds and eclipsed the 20-point barrier on 12 occasions. He could do even better as a junior thanks to an improved supporting cast.

Title game prediction: Stanford over Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders will give Tubby Smith his first signature win with a victory over Pittsburgh in the semifinals. But Texas Tech won’t be able to get past a veteran Cardinal club that should be high on chemistry and cohesion. Powell, Randle, Josh Huestis and Aaron Bright will be too much for the Red Raiders.

Who others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Pittsburgh over Stanford
Jeff Goodman: Stanford over Pittsburgh
Seth Greenberg: Stanford over Pittsburgh
Andy Katz: Stanford over Pittsburgh
Myron Medcalf: Pittsburgh over Stanford
Dana O'Neil: Pittsburgh over Stanford

Video: New chapter for Tubby Smith

April, 2, 2013
4/02/13
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Tubby Smith talks about taking over as Texas Tech's men's basketball coach.

Video: Texas Tech's buzzer-beater

March, 14, 2013
3/14/13
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Dejan Kravic's buzzer-beating put-back gave Texas Tech a 71-69 victory over West Virginia in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

March, 8, 2013
3/08/13
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The final game of the regular season will also be the most important one for Kansas and Kansas State. The Jayhawks can clinch at least a share of their ninth straight Big 12 title by defeating Baylor in Waco. And Kansas State can claim at least a share of the conference championship for the first time since 1977 by beating Oklahoma State in Stillwater. A loss by K-State would give KU the outright title, and vice versa. The stakes couldn’t be any higher for both teams. Here is the final edition of the Big 12 power rankings.

1. Kansas. Ben McLemore may be a better NBA prospect, but center Jeff Withey has been the MVP of this team. He ranks first in the nation among active players in blocks with four swats per game. On the season he's averaging 13.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. But in his past eight games those numbers have risen to 16.3 and 9.5, respectively.

2. Kansas State. Just as Withey is the clear choice (at least in my opinion) for league MVP honors, the same can be said about Bruce Weber for Big 12 Coach of the Year. The Wildcats haven't lost since falling to Kansas in Lawrence on Feb. 11. And they're one of the few ranked teams that has gone the entire season without being upset. KSU's losses are against Michigan, Gonzaga, Kansas (twice) and Iowa State (on the road).

3. Oklahoma State. Wednesday's loss at Iowa State marked just the second defeat in 12 games for Travis Ford's squad. The Cowboys have a chance to pick up a good résumé win this weekend when they host Kansas State in Stillwater. K-State defeated OSU, 73-67, in Manhattan on Jan. 5. Marcus Smart should be named freshman of the year, both in the Big 12 and nationally.

4. Oklahoma. Lon Kruger isn't receiving nearly enough credit for the quick turnaround that has taken place in Norman. The Sooners have won six of their past eight games, and both of the defeats have come in overtime. Forward Romero Osby is one of the nation's most underrated players. He averages 15.6 points and seven rebounds per game.

5. Iowa State. Not many leagues in the country boast a fifth-place team as good as the Cyclones, who lost two overtime games to Kansas. It's a shame this team couldn't perform better on the road. Fred Hoiberg's squad is better than a No. 10 or 11 seed in the NCAA tournament. Someone is going to cringe on Selection Sunday when they see themselves matched against Iowa State in the first round.

6. Texas. Texas is 4-3 since Myck Kabongo returned from his 23-game suspension, and three of those wins are against teams (Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor) ranked ahead of the Longhorns in the Big 12 standings. Another victory is possible in Saturday's regular-season finale against Texas Tech in Lubbock.

7. Baylor. The Bears' NCAA tournament hopes are all but gone following back-to-back losses to Kansas State and Texas. Even if Baylor shocks the world and beats Kansas on Saturday, it will still need to win some games in the Big 12 tournament to make the field. It's amazing how far the Bears have fallen since going 30-8 and reaching the Elite Eight last season. Of course, Kentucky won the NCAA title last spring and probably won't make the NCAA tournament this year, either. So the Bears aren't alone.

8. West Virginia. Bob Huggins' team has dropped six of its past seven games, and all but one of the defeats has been by double figures. Not a single player averages double figures in scoring, and the leading rebounder snares just 5.9 boards per contest. Needless to say, West Virginia's inaugural season in the Big 12 has not been pretty.

9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have won just three conference games -- and two of the victories are against TCU. Interim coach Chris Walker has done a nice job of getting the undermanned Red Raiders to play hard most of the time. Still, Texas Tech needs an experienced head coach to turn this program around. One person who needs to be considered is Middle Tennessee State's Kermit Davis, who has done wonders in Murfreesboro.

10. TCU. The season can't end quickly enough for Trent Johnson and the Horned Frogs, who actually showed some positive signs in Tuesday's 79-68 loss at Kansas State. Kyan Anderson scored 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

Video: Kansas 79, Texas Tech 42

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
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Jeff Withey scores 22 points in No. 4 Kansas' 79-42 win over Texas Tech.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

March, 1, 2013
3/01/13
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If the Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats both win the rest of their regular-season games, they will share the Big 12 title. The Jayhawks are seeking their ninth straight league crown. Kansas State hasn't won a conference championship since 1977, so even tying KU for first place would be huge for the Wildcats, especially considering they're playing for a new coach, Bruce Weber.

Baylor has a chance to alter the conference race because it has remaining home games against K-State (Saturday) and Kansas (March 9). The Bears were waxed during their initial meetings with the Jayhawks and Wildcats, but they're talented enough to beat both teams if the stars align and the moon is full. Whatever happens, the final week of the season should be interesting. Here are this week's power rankings.

1. Kansas: Elijah Johnson's 39-point performance in Monday's overtime win at Iowa State marked the best game by a Big 12 player this season. A healthy and aggressive Johnson could be the difference in this team winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament and making the Final Four. Ben McLemore is averaging just 10.3 points in his past four games.

2. Kansas State: The Wildcats have won eight of their past nine games. They look better every time they step on the court. K-State's shot selection is good and they're playing tough defense. Shane Southwell has made 10 of his past 17 attempts from 3-point range. The Wildcats' past six wins have come by nine points or more, including a 20-point thrashing of Baylor on Feb. 16.

3. Oklahoma State: Le'Bryan Nash snapped out of a mini-funk Wednesday and scored a career-high 28 points in the Cowboys' 64-47 drubbing of TCU. Nash is averaging 19.5 points in his past four games. OSU has three tough games remaining against Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State. But only one of those contests (Iowa State) is away from home.

4. Iowa State: The Cyclones (19-9, 9-6) might be the most snakebitten team in the Big 12. Three of their losses have come in overtime and another occurred on a last-second basket at Oklahoma State. Fred Hoiberg's squad ranks fourth in the nation in scoring (80.1), 12th in assists (16.3) and 19th in rebounds (39.3). Saturday's game at Oklahoma will be pivotal in terms of NCAA tournament seeding.

5. Oklahoma: Lon Kruger's squad led Texas by as many as 22 points in the second half Wednesday before wilting down the stretch in a 92-86 overtime loss. The Sooners, who are getting a team-high 15 points per game from Romero Osby, will have a tough chore Saturday against Iowa State, a team they lost to by 19 points earlier this season. Things get easier after that with a home game against West Virginia and a road tilt with TCU to close the regular season.

6. Baylor: If the season ended today, the Bears wouldn't deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. But they still have plenty of opportunities to play their way into the field with remaining home games against No. 13 Kansas State and No. 6 Kansas. Both of those contests are at home. A win at Texas on Monday would also enhance Baylor's résumé. Scott Drew's squad has been a disappointment, but the talent is still there to upset anyone.

7. Texas: Even though the Longhorns have lost to West Virginia twice, I'm still ranking them above the Mountaineers, based on their current play. Overtime home wins against Iowa State and Oklahoma proved that Texas hasn't given up during the worst season in coach Rick Barnes' tenure. Myck Kabongo had 31 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in Wednesday's overtime win against Oklahoma. He's averaging 11.2 fee throw attempts in his past five games.

8. West Virginia: Each of the Mountaineers' six Big 12 wins have come against teams ranked eighth, ninth or 10th in the league standings. West Virginia's leading scorer (Eron Harris) is only averaging 9.3 points. Harris, a freshman, turned in an encouraging performance by scoring 25 points in Wednesday's home loss to Baylor. With upcoming road games at Kansas and Oklahoma and a home game with Iowa State, the Mountaineers may not win again.

9. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are just 2-13 in Big 12 play and haven't won a game since beating Iowa State on Jan. 23. They'll likely be favored at home Saturday against TCU, a team it beat in the conference opener. And there's a chance Texas Tech could sneak up on Texas on March 9 in Lubbock. Freshman point guard Josh Gray (9.7 points, 3.2 assists) is showing positive signs.

10. TCU: The season can't end fast enough for the Horned Frogs, whose only Big 12 victory came in that stunner against Kansas on Feb. 6. Each of TCU's 14 Big 12 losses have come by nine points or more. It will be interesting to see how competitive Trent Johnson's squad is in Saturday's road game against fellow Big 12 bottom feeder Texas Tech.

Video: Kansas St. 75, Texas Tech 55

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
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Thomas Gipson scored 20 points and Angel Rodriguez added 16 to power No. 13 Kansas State over Texas Tech 75-55.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

February, 22, 2013
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A handful of Kansas' eight straight Big 12 titles have come with relative ease. But if the Jayhawks claim the crown again this season, no one will be able to say that they didn't earn it. Bill Self's squad nearly fell out of the picture by losing three games in a row earlier this month. But now KU is tied for the league lead again after Wednesday's double-overtime victory at Oklahoma State. The championship is hardly in the bag, but history suggests it'd be foolish to doubt the Jayhawks this late in the season. Here are the latest power rankings.

1. Kansas. The Jayhawks defeated Kansas State and Texas by an average of 23.5 points before escaping Stillwater with a 68-67 double-overtime win Wednesday. Backup guard Naadir Tharpe hit the game-winner on a night when Ben McLemore scored only seven points. KU's toughest remaining game is Monday at Iowa State.

2. Kansas State. Forget all the talk about the Wildcats hitting their ceiling. Bruce Weber's squad just keeps getting better. Point guard Angel Rodriguez looked like a first-team All-Big 12 guard in his 22-point, 10-assist effort in Saturday's win over Baylor. If K-State wins out it will claim at least a share of the conference title for the first time since 1977.

3. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys nearly defeated KU Wednesday even though Marcus Smart went just 2 of 14 from the field. Small forward Le'Bryan Nash continues to be an enigma. In his past four games, he's scored 14, 6, 26 and 8 points. Oklahoma State plays at West Virginia Saturday and at TCU Wednesday.

4. Iowa State. Fred Hoiberg's squad finally beat a decent Big 12 team on the road. Wednesday's 87-82 victory over Baylor was impressive on a variety of fronts. The Cyclones shot 54.2 percent from the field and got 15 or more points from four players: Melvin Ejim, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee and Georges Niang. Monday's home game against Kansas is obviously huge.

5. Oklahoma. The Sooners have won three of their past four games, with the only setback coming in a road defeat at Oklahoma State. Lon Kruger's squad has a tough upcoming stretch against Baylor, Texas and Iowa State. (The Texas game is on the road). If Oklahoma wins two of those three contests, the Sooners would be a virtual lock to make the NCAA tournament. Wouldn't they?

6. Baylor. If it weren't for West Virginia, the Bears would be the Big 12's biggest disappointment. Scott Drew's squad has lost five of its past seven games, including home setbacks against Iowa State and Oklahoma. Baylor has defeated just one team (Oklahoma State) in the upper half of the league standings. Its other six Big 12 wins have come against Texas, West Virginia, TCU (twice) and Texas Tech (twice).

7. Texas. The Longhorns have gone 2-1 since the return of point guard Myck Kabongo, beating Iowa State at home and TCU on the road and losing at Kansas. Kabongo has been solid, but not spectacular. He's averaging 12.7 points, 4.7 assists and three turnovers while shooting just 38.7 percent from the field. Texas hosts co-league leader Kansas State on Saturday.

8. West Virginia. The Mountaineers are 13-13 overall and 6-7 in league play. They may have the toughest remaining schedule of any Big 12 team, with home games remaining against Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State and road games against Kansas and Oklahoma. West Virginia lost their first meeting with each of those schools.

9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders almost upset West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday before falling 66-64. A few days later, they were blown out at home by Oklahoma 86-71. Texas Tech's next two games (against Iowa State and Kansas State) are both on the road. Things could get ugly.

10. TCU. The Horned Frogs threw a scare into Texas Wednesday before wilting down the stretch in a 68-59 loss. First-year coach Trent Johnson shouldn't be judged on his team's 10-16 record. He simply doesn't have the personnel to compete. At least not yet.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

February, 15, 2013
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Three teams are tied for first place and two others are deadlocked in second. The Big 12 is far from the best conference in the country -- but it's definitely one of the most entertaining. Here are this week's power rankings.

1. Oklahoma State -- The Cowboys have the inside track to the Big 12 title. They've already defeated Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse and will likely be favored in the Feb. 20 rematch in Stillwater. OSU will take a six-game winning streak into Saturday's home tilt with Oklahoma.

2. Kansas -- Monday's 83-62 victory over Kansas State ended the Jayhawks' three-game losing streak. But c'mon ... did anyone seriously think KU was going to lose that game at Allen Fieldhouse? We'll have a better feel for where this team stands after next week's trip to Stillwater.

3. Kansas State -- Kansas State is one of the few teams in the country that hasn't suffered any upsets. The Wildcats' five losses are against Michigan, Gonzaga, Kansas (twice) and Iowa State (on the road). Saturday's showdown against Baylor could be one of the better games of the weekend.

4. Oklahoma -- The Sooners took a major hit when standout freshman guard Buddy Hield went down with a foot injury that will sideline him for four to six weeks. Oklahoma will face a tough test against red-hot rival Oklahoma State on Saturday in Stillwater. Three of OU's next four games are on the road.

5. Baylor -- The Bears have had some tough breaks in road losses at Iowa State and Oklahoma State, but they'll be in the Big 12 title hunt if they can beat K-State in Manhattan this weekend. Brady Heslip appears to have found his outside shooting stroke.

6. Iowa State -- The Cyclones are the Jekyll and Hyde of the Big 12. Great at home and snakebitten on the road. Just think, Fred Hoiberg's squad would be in first place if not for road losses to bottom-feeders Texas Tech and Texas. That has to be disheartening for Iowa State fans.

7. Texas -- The return of suspended point guard Myck Kabongo gave the Longhorns a boost in Wednesday's double-overtime victory against Iowa State -- although, to be fair, it was Javan Felix running the show after Kabongo fouled out down the stretch. Still, a nice win for UT against a talented Cyclones team.

8. West Virginia -- This just isn't the Mountaineers' year. Baylor pummeled Bob Huggins' squad 80-60 in Waco on Wednesday, snapping WVU's three-game winning streak. West Virginia hosts Texas Tech on Saturday. After that, it may not win another conference game.

9. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders' last two losses (to Baylor and Oklahoma State) have come by an average of 25.5 points. With three of the next four games on the road, things probably won't get better anytime soon. It will be interesting to see who is interested in this job -- assuming, of course, that athletic director Kirby Hocutt chooses not to retain interim coach Chris Walker.

10. TCU -- So how did the Horned Frogs respond to last week's upset of Kansas? By losing their next two games by an average of 20 points. It's amazing to think that TCU could finish 1-17 in Big 12 play, with its only victory coming against the Jayhawks.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

February, 8, 2013
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A week ago it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Kansas would win a ninth straight Big 12 title. The Jayhawks were 19-1 overall and 7-0 in conference play, while every other team had at least two league losses.

Now the landscape has changed.

Four days after losing to Oklahoma State in Lawrence, KU suffered one of the biggest upsets in recent college basketball memory -- and easily the biggest in school history -- when it fell to last-place TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth. Just like that, the race for the Big 12 title is wide-open, with six teams in the mix for the trophy.

Here are this week's power rankings. And remember, these rankings are based on how teams are playing at the moment. Kansas, for instance, touts the best record in the league at 19-3. But the Jayhawks have been terrible lately, which is why they're at No. 4.

1. Kansas State. The Wildcats have done a good job of winning the games they are supposed to win, but we'll find out what this team is truly made of in the next three days. K-State hosts a red-hot Iowa State team on Saturday before traveling to Lawrence to face Kansas on Monday. The Cyclones and Jayhawks handed K-State its only two Big 12 losses this season, so Bruce Weber's players should be foaming at the mouth for these two games. If the Wildcats come out in attack mode, they can win both of them -- and perhaps even a Big 12 title.

2. Oklahoma State. What a stretch this has been for the Cowboys. On Jan. 30 they beat Iowa State on a Marcus Smart layup with three seconds remaining. Three days later OSU became just the second team in 104 games to defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, and then on Wednesday it toppled Baylor in overtime. The schedule sets up nicely for Travis Ford's team the rest of the way.

3. Iowa State. In Monday's win over Oklahoma, six Cyclones made 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes of the game. That's how potent this Iowa State offense can be. The problem with Iowa State is that it hasn't been able to win on the road. Fred Hoiberg's squad is 1-3 in league games away from Hilton Coliseum, although it's worth pointing out that ISU played well in losses at Kansas (97-89 in overtime) and Oklahoma State (78-76). Three of the Cyclones' next four games are on the road starting with Saturday's tilt at K-State.

4. Kansas. To put Wednesday's loss to TCU into perspective ... Jerry Palm, who crunches basketball numbers for cbssports.com, said TCU's victory marked the biggest upset in RPI difference in the 20 years he's been tracking numbers. Kansas entered the game No. 7 in RPI, TCU No. 237. KU's field goal percentage (29.5) was its worst in the Bill Self era, and so was its first-half point total (13). The Jayhawks hadn't lost consecutive games since 2006. And they haven't lost three straight since 2005. Kansas plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.

5. Oklahoma. The Sooners have lost four of their past six games, but they'll be catching Kansas at the perfect time this weekend. Oklahoma needs to get more out of Romero Osby, who is averaging 13.8 points on the season but only 10.5 points in his past four games. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday. A sold-out arena would certainly help OU's chances.

6. Baylor. The Bears have lost three straight games by an average of 4.3 points. They are 2-7 in games decided by single digits, mainly because they make horrible decisions and shoot ill-advised, forced shots at the end of close games. And often it's the wrong player taking those shots. Baylor's next two games (against Texas Tech and West Virginia) are at home. Isaiah Austin is averaging 14 rebounds in his past three games.

7. West Virginia. The Mountaineers have won two in a row -- and there's a significant chance they could stretch that streak to four. Bob Huggins' squad plays at TCU on Saturday and then returns to the Lone Star State on Wednesday to face struggling Baylor. As a team West Virginia shoots just 40.3 percent from the field, a mark that ranks 303rd in the country.

8. Texas. The Longhorns host a hot Oklahoma State team on Saturday before welcoming back suspended point guard Myck Kabongo for Wednesday's game against Iowa State in Austin. Beneficial as it will be to get Kabongo back on the court, it may not make much difference in UT's season. The Longhorns are 10-12 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12. Barring a miracle, they'll miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in Rick Barnes' 14 seasons.

9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders may be improving, but it's not showing up on the scoreboard. Texas Tech is 2-7 in league play, with the seven losses coming by an average of 19.8 points. Baylor and Oklahoma State each beat Texas Tech by 34 points. Those are the Red Raiders' next two opponents.

10. TCU. The Horned Frogs' victory over Kansas on Wednesday is even more amazing when you consider that they shot 39.1 percent from the field, shot 30.8 percent from 3-point range and lost the offensive-rebound battle 17-6. TCU also missed 16 free throws but still won 62-55.

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