Monday, January 2, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: Big 12
By Jason King
Not much has changed in this week’s Big 12 power rankings. But with each school beginning conference play, next week’s list could look quite a bit different. Be sure to check back.
1. Baylor: The Bears are off to their best start in school history at 13-0, and no one can say they accomplished the feat because of a weak schedule. Baylor touts wins against five top-50 teams, with the most recent triumph coming in a two-point victory Wednesday against Mississippi State. The Bears open Big 12 play Monday against struggling Texas A&M in Waco.
2. Missouri: The Tigers had to come from behind in the final two minutes Friday to beat an Old Dominion team with a 6-7 record. Still, all road wins are big, and the close win against the Monarchs will help the Tigers down the road. Missouri faces a pesky, well-coached Oklahoma squad in Tuesday’s conference opener in Columbia.
3. Kansas State: The Wildcats have won six in a row since an overtime loss to West Virginia on Dec. 8. But tough times could lie ahead. Kansas State opens Big 12 play at Kansas on Wednesday before hosting Missouri and Baylor. Then comes a tough road game at Oklahoma. Does any school in the country have a tougher league-opening stretch than the Wildcats?
4. Kansas: An eighth straight Big 12 title isn’t out of the question -- especially if forward Thomas Robinson continues the dominance he displayed in Saturday’s win over North Dakota (30 points, 21 rebounds). But the Jayhawks’ bench continues to struggle, as Connor Teahan was the only non-starter to score against the Fighting Sioux.
5. Texas: J’Covan Brown is averaging 19 points for a team that got back on the winning track Saturday against Rice. The Longhorns could establish a ton of momentum by beating Iowa State on the road in Wednesday’s Big 12 opener, especially considering they have what should be two home wins after that against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. A 3-0 start is definitely possible.
6. Oklahoma: The Sooners dropped their second game of the season Thursday when they squandered a 12-point lead with six minutes remaining in a 56-55 loss at Cincinnati. Still, with a 10-2 record, Oklahoma has been the league’s biggest surprise thus far. Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby is averaging 9.1 rebounds for a team that opens Big 12 play Tuesday at Missouri.
7. Iowa State: The Cyclones survived a scare Saturday before pulling off a two-point home win against Mississippi Valley State. But it should be noted that leading scorer Royce White (flu-like symptoms) played just three minutes. Iowa State has been mildly disappointing thus far. The team appears to lack chemistry.
8. Texas A&M: Highly touted freshman Jamal Branch announced last week that he was leaving the team, which certainly wasn’t a good thing for an already struggling program. The Aggies had gone nine straight games without breaking the 70-point barrier before Saturday’s 76-58 win over Arkansas Tech.
9. Oklahoma State: This team is bad. The Cowboys needed double overtime to defeat SMU in Dallas last week before suffering a home loss to Virginia Tech on New Year’s Eve, their second to the Hokies this season. It will be interesting to see what Oklahoma State’s administration decides to do with fourth-year coach Travis Ford if things don’t get better.
10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have won four of their past six games and are steadily getting better. They’re playing weak competition, sure. But that’s just what this rebuilding program needs as new coach Billy Gillispie attempts to instill discipline and confidence in his players. Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma State will be interesting.