The Kansas Jayhawks are the No. 1 powerhouse in Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s basketball after the 7th full week of Big 12 Conference action. Our power rankings appear every Monday.
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1. KANSAS (22-5, 10-4: last week — 3)
I guess it must be Kansas now, right? The Jayhawks have now swept Baylor and own a win over Texas. The streak of three consecutive defeats is nothing but a memory now. Kansas has now won six of its last seven. But the No. 1 seed in Kansas City is still not secured, not with two more games against ranked teams, both on the road.
2. BAYLOR (20-7, 9-6: last week — 2)
This is where I will look at losses more than wins. A road loss to Kansas, to me, is better than a road loss to an unranked team. The Bears were red-hot going into Lawrence and Kansas cooled them off, albeit after Baylor took a sizable halftime lead. The prowess of Baylor’s guards, led by Adam Flagler, cannot be overstated. They’ll dictate how far Baylor will go in March.
3. TEXAS (21-6, 10-4: last week — 1)
Losing to Lubbock was enough for me to knock the Longhorns off the No. 1 perch this week. If you’re in the table and you go towards a team with two league wins, that’s a game you should win, honestly. Beating Oklahoma at home, albeit in overtime, kept the Longhorns in first place for the time being. But I have to convince myself that they are playing better than Baylor, even with the win in hand. The two will settle it on Saturday in Waco.
4. KANSAS STATE (20-7, 8-6: last week — 6)
Kansas State and Iowa State are kind of in the same neighborhood right now — the leaders of second-tier teams in the Big 12. The Wildcats could definitely win the Big 12 Tournament (I’m pretty sure anyone can at this point). The Wildcats get a boost with a head-to-head victory over Iowa State on Sunday. Nothing more.
5. STATE OF IOWA (17-9, 8-6: last week — 5)
Iowa State and Kansas State turn around this week, thanks to the Cyclones’ loss to the Wildcats. But we should point out that the Cyclones ran TCU well in the midweek game. It’s also worth noting that guard Caleb Grill didn’t play against K-State on Saturday. He is turning out to be as important a player to the Cyclones as guard Mike Miles is to the Horned Frogs.
6. TCU extension (18-9, 7-7: last week — 8)
I couldn’t justify moving the Horned Frogs any higher than that after a week of being split. The loss to Iowa State may have been TCU’s nadir, because the jolt it got from the return of Miles made the Horned Frogs special again. Miles can’t get hurt again. If he’s around, the Horned Frogs are a team you won’t want to mess with in March.
7. STATE OF OKLAHOMA (16-11, 7-7: last week — 4)
As soon as Oklahoma State rose, the Cowboys fell. Losses at home to Kansas and on the road to TCU kept the Cowboys from solidifying their bona fides in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike Boynton said the lopsided loss to TCU was more about the Horned Frogs than the Cowboys. We’ll find out if that’s the case when Oklahoma State faces a now-desperate West Virginia en route to two days off.
8. TEXAS TECHNOLOGY (15-12, 4-10: last week — 9)
The Red Raiders are such an interesting team now. They won back-to-back games over Texas and West Virginia and now own three wins over AP Top 15 teams in the past three weeks. In fact, Texas Tech has won three in a row and is playing forward Fardaws Aimaq. Also, Jaylon Tyson is playing special basketball right now. The only questions left are how much runway is left for this team to race at March Madness and does it come at someone else’s expense?
9. WEST VIRGINIA (15-12, 4-10: last week — 7)
I suspected West Virginia would lose to Baylor on the road. But five days off and then a loss to Texas Tech at home? This is a potential NCAA bid killer. The Mountaineers are still on the bubble, and recent history says seven Big 12 wins are a good indicator of making the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers need three in the next four. Two are at home. Is WVU ending at the wrong time?
10. OKLAHOMA (13-14, 3-11: last week — 10)
We might be looking at the one Big 12 team that finishes under . 500 for the season, and it might just be a game or two below the mark. Still, the Sooners beat Kansas State at home last week and nearly beat Texas in overtime on the road. I still think a team of .500 Sooners is a NIT block.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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