Friday, February 1, 2013
Conference Power Rankings: Big 12
By Jason King
Thank goodness for Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU. The decision to rank the Jayhawks, Red Raiders and Horned Frogs Nos. 1, 9 and 10, respectively, is the only thing that's easy about the weekly Big 12 power rankings. The league continues to be as unpredictable as it has been in years. But that also makes it more interesting. Here is the latest attempt to rank the conference.
1. Kansas. While KU's defense has been outstanding, its offense continues to sputter. The Jayhawks are averaging 62 points in their past six games, and three of their past four wins have come by five points or less. Kansas' guard play has been sloppy at times.
2. Kansas State. The Wildcats' 83-57 thrashing of Texas Wednesday is even more impressive considering the minimal contributions made by Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling, who combined for 12 points. KSU plays at Oklahoma -- a team it defeated 69-60 last month -- on Saturday.
3. Oklahoma. The Sooners pulled off one of the more impressive Big 12 wins of the season thus far by defeating Baylor 74-71 in Waco Wednesday. Amath M'Baye and Steven Pledger each scored 20 points for a team that shot 52.7 percent. OU's only two Big 12 losses are against Kansas and K-State, both on the road.
4. Baylor. The Bears were lifeless in the first half of Wednesday's 74-71 home loss to Oklahoma. They deserve credit for fighting back from a 16-point deficit, but it should've never gotten to that point. Isaiah Austin was a bright spot with 19 points and 20 rebounds. Baylor now has back-to-back road games at Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Uh-oh.
5. Oklahoma State.Marcus Smart's layup with 3 seconds remaining propelled the Cowboys to a 78-76 win over Iowa State Wednesday. Oklahoma State hopes to capitalize on that momentum in Saturday's game at Kansas, where the Jayhawks have won 102 of their past 103 games at Allen Fieldhouse.
6. Iowa State. I never thought I'd rank the Cyclones this low, but their inconsistency has been maddening. How do you go from coming within 1 second of beating KU in Lawrence to losing at Texas Tech? Five days after beating K-State at home, Iowa State lost at Oklahoma State. Fred Hoiberg's squad won't get an NCAA tournament bid if it can't win a few road games.
7. West Virginia. Bob Huggins' squad has lost four of its past five games, with the only win in that stretch coming against TCU. Huggins and talented transfer Aaric Murray can't seem to get on the same page. Games against Texas Tech, TCU and Texas are up next, so the potential for a three-game winning streak exists.
8. Texas. The Longhorns looked like the Big 12's worst team in Wednesday's 83-57 loss at Kansas State. Point guard Myck Kabongo becomes eligible in three games, but it may not matter. Sheldon McClellan averages a team-high 14.8 points.
9. Texas Tech. Three of the Red Raiders' next four games are at home, and Saturday's tilt with West Virginia at United Spirit Arena looks like their best chance at a win during that stretch. Jaye Crockett averages team-highs in points (12.7) and rebounds (7.7).
10. TCU. The Horned Frogs' past two losses (to Baylor and West Virginia) have come by an average of 23.5 points. TCU plays at Texas Saturday before hosting Kansas on Wednesday. That one could get ugly. Arkansas transfer Devonta Abron is averaging only 6.6 points.