TCU lost to Tulsa, West Virginia couldn’t beat Duquesne, and Texas floundered down the stretch against a struggling UCLA squad. Poor Big 12. What’s happened to you? Here are this week’s Power Rankings:
1. Kansas: The Jayhawks are the league’s lone Final Four contender. No one was surprised that KU beat Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse. But a 36-point win over a Buffaloes team that’s been in the Top 25? Wow. Belmont will provide a tough test Saturday.
2. Oklahoma State: Billionaire booster T. Boone Pickens swept up the remaining 4,000 tickets to the Cowboys’ Dec. 31 game against Gonzaga and plans to distribute them for free. Even if they had to pay, fans would find Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart to be worth the price of admission.
3. Kansas State: Rodney McGruder finally seems to be breaking out of his funk. The senior is averaging 17.7 points in his past three games for the Wildcats, which face a tough test against Gonzaga in Seattle on Saturday. Bruce Weber’s squad barely escaped with a victory at George Washington last weekend.
4. Baylor: Remember that College of Charleston team that beat the Bears in Waco? On Thursday, that same squad lost 65-49 -- at home -- to Division II Anderson. Baylor led Lamar by three points with 10 minutes remaining Thursday before pulling away. But that’s OK. It’s not like Lamar is 1-9 or anything. Oh wait ...
5. Iowa State: Just when I was starting to get a little excited about the Cyclones, Fred Hoiberg’s team turned in a clunker -- an 80-71 loss at Iowa last Friday. This is still a good enough team to finish as high as second in the league, but it may be awhile before we see the Cyclones mesh.
6. Oklahoma: It may not be saying much, but the Sooners are the most improved team in the Big 12 and are capable of beating any school in the conference. Romero Osby, Amath M'Baye and Steven Pledger are high-quality players, although Pledger’s scoring average (10.1) is the lowest since his freshman season.
7. West Virginia: It appeared the Mountaineers were turning the corner when they defeated previously unbeaten Virginia Tech in the final seconds Saturday. But three days later, they coughed up a 13-point halftime lead and lost 60-56 at Duquesne. Things could get ugly Saturday against Michigan.
8. Texas: Even if Myck Kabongo were playing, I’m not sure the Longhorns would be very good. Texas was up by as many as eight points late in the game against UCLA before choking it away in the final minutes. Freshman forward Cameron Ridley (14 points, 10 rebounds) had his best game to date as a collegian. North Carolina visits Austin on Wednesday.
9. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are better than they were last season, but they were exposed a bit earlier this month in an 85-57 home loss to Arizona, the first decent team they’ve played. Upcoming games against Alabama and Arizona State will be tough.
10. TCU: The Horned Frogs, which haven’t played since losing to Tulsa on Saturday, have lost three of their past five games. Trent Johnson’s team is averaging just 54.5 points per game. Kyan Anderson leads the team in points (13.3) and assists (3.7).