Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
9:00
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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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