We are now three weeks into the season and we have enough games to now accurately see how Big 12 conference games will play out. We get to see the first games this week with Kansas State and Iowa State tipping off tonight at 9:00 PM EST. Everyone is also looking forward to seeing the first matchup of teams at the top when #5 Kansas takes on #14 Texas Tech. For the breakdown, I will give my conference power rankings and what I’ve seen from each team so far.
- Kansas (6-1)
Let’s get the debate started early. Yes, Baylor is ranked #2 in the country and had an impressive win over Illinois. But they have not played enough meaningful games to get a real good grasp on who they are. Kansas already has two wins over ranked opponents (Kentucky and Creighton) and their only loss comes in the opener against #1 Gonzaga. Number of games played is going to be a factor as the season plays out. Baylor will have their chances to re-gain the top spot. Bill Self has shown that he can find different ways to score as they are averaging over 81 points per game so far through 7 games. The small ball line up has worked so far, shooting an impressive 40% from 3. Almost half of their made field goals against Creighton were from behind the arc. Jalen Wilson has shown he can be the leader down the stretch of games and could possibly be the best player in this conference. The one question mark is how this team will compete against size as the season goes along.
2. Baylor (4-0)
Baylor’s only game against a difficult opponent was a convincing 82-69 win against Illinois. The team seemed to take over after getting Cockburn in foul trouble. The four wins have been a committee approach as they’ve reached four players in double digits twice and five players in double digits in the other two games. Jared Butler has led the Bears, averaging over 15 points per game so far this season but a key player for them comes off the bench. Adam Flagler, a transfer from Presbyterian, has scored in bunches and lighting it up from three. The four headed monster of Butler, Flagler, Mitchell, and Teague make them a very difficult team come tournament time as guard play really shines in March.
3. West Virginia (6-1)
Another team that only has one loss to the number one team in the country comes in at our third spot. West Virginia was rumored to have a much improved offensive squad this year but it wasn’t seen in games until this past Sunday. Everybody came to play as West Virginia beat #19 Richmond 87-71. We saw a little bit of Press Virginia as they were able to speed the Spiders up and create turnovers during a 29-8 run to end the first half. We talked about Baylor’s four guards but if the guards for West Virginia can shoot 8-9 from three like they did in that game, watch out. No one expects them to shoot that lights out but that did prove what Bob Huggins talked about during the offseason. Add that in with Culver growing in to a consistant scorer down low and continued dominance on the boards, this is one of the top teams in the country.
4. Texas (5-1)
I was really looking forward to what this Texas team could do against Baylor on Sunday. Matt Coleman may be the most improved player in the conference as he has taken the leadership role for this team. He led the Longhorns to a 69-67 victory over UNC with 22 points. He has had some electric dunks so far this year that would get the crowd going if fans were allowed in the arenas. One player that has been highly disappointing is Jericho Sims. He has only reached double figures once so far this year and hasn’t nearly been the presence on the defensive end that he should be. The guards will carry this team and as we’ve seen up above, all the top teams have guards who can match up with the Longhorns.
5. Oklahoma State (6-0)
I expected to have fun watching Oklahoma State and Cade Cunningham this season but I did not expect them to be one of the last undefeated teams in the conference. They haven’t had the tough schedule like the teams above them which is why they end up at five. I was impressed with the wins against Marquette and Wichita State as they found other guys to step up with Cunningham only scoring 15 and 10 respectively in those games. The Cowboy’s roster has 8 freshman and 5 sophomore. If they can get the types of contributions from from other young guys adjusting to the college game, they will compete with the top teams in the conference.
6. Texas Tech (6-1)
This may be low for them as the Red Raiders are still ranked 14th in the country. I just haven’t seen enough from them to put them in front of the other five teams. In their loss to Houston, they were only able to scrape out 19 points in the first half. Mac McClung was supposed to lead this offense but he has struggled to make shots at times. He’s 0-6 on his last 6 three point attempts and shot 0-6 in that Houston loss. They will need more from him in Big 12 play.
7. Oklahoma (3-1)
Oklahoma had struggles with COVID to start the season but they were able to secure the only Big 12 win so far against TCU. They have a bad 22 point loss to Xavier and two other wins that aren’t very impressive outside the fact they hung 105 on UTSA. We won’t really know what this season has until the end of the year and into the first few weeks in 2021. Oklahoma will play four straight games against Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor, and Kansas.
8. TCU (5-2)
The only Big 12 game to be played so far was an Oklahoma win over TCU. The other loss for the Horned Frogs came against Providence. They did turn things around with an 18 point win against Texas A&M. RJ Nembhard has been impressive. He has improved more from his freshman year than anybody else in the conference. He won the conference player of the week last week, averaging 20.5 points, 8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in two games.
9. Iowa State (1-2)
Iowa State is another team that doesn’t have many games under their belt. Their last game was a 28 point loss to Iowa but they can rebound quickly playing against the bottom dweller for this year, Kansas State.
10. Kansas State (2-4)
There isn’t much to say here. Kansas State has losses to Drake, Colorado, UNLV, and Fort Hays State. This team is really missing the leadership from Xavier Sneed and Cartier Diarra.