Each week Heartland College Sports will rank the men’s basketball team’s in the Big 12 Conference, based on play from Feb. 11-16.
1. Iowa State (19-6) (Last Week: 2)
K-State may still have the lead in the Big 12, but the nod, at least for this week, has to go to Iowa State, which beat the Wildcats rather soundly on Saturday. The two teams split their season series, with ISU losing to K-State by a point in January and winning on Saturday by 14 points. So the Cyclones may be a smidge better right now. But, of course, this race isn’t nearly over.
2. Kansas State (19-6) (Last Week: 1)
The loss to Iowa State is a little troubling. The injury to Dean Wade — even though it doesn’t appear to be serious — is more troubling. The Wildcats drop a spot this week due to the ISU loss, but with a game lead on the field they still control their own destiny. This is not the week to lose focus. West Virginia and Oklahoma State look like wins on paper. But the Wildcats can’t afford a slip to either before their re-match with Kansas.
3. Texas Tech (21-5) (Last Week: 3)
For this week I’m keeping Tech and Kansas where they are. Both had similar weeks. Tech had two monster wins and their offense looks like it’s working toward a peak. Now the Red Raiders get a week off before facing Kansas.
4. Kansas (20-6) (Last Week: 4)
Bill Self loves what he’s getting out of Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji right now. But the unsung hero this week was K.J. Lawson, who hit big baskets against TCU and had another fine game against West Virginia. With Kansas’ depth issues, Self needs Lawson to keep it rolling.
5. Texas (15-11) (Last Week: 6)
Texas played K-State tough and took care of business against Oklahoma State. Head coach Shaka Smart has found a solid eight-man rotation and sliding Courtney Ramey into the starting lineup has really helped. The coming two games are huge for Texas’ NCAA Tournament chances.
6. Baylor (16-9) (Last Week: 5)
The problem right now is that Makai Mason and King McClure aren’t on the floor (Mason played on Monday against OU, but he wasn’t there on Saturday vs. Texas Tech). Without them the Bears are sinking in the Big 12 standings. And, without them, I think Texas is actually a better team right now.
7. Oklahoma (16-10) (Last Week: 8)
OU needed a win badly and got it Saturday against TCU. So they move up a spot. But it’s time for the Sooners to prove they’re out of their doldrums and their home game against Texas on Saturday would go a long way toward proving that. If not, they could dip back below the Horned Frogs.
8. TCU (18-7) (Last Week: 7)
It’s hard to punish the Horned Frogs for an overtime loss to Kansas. So we’ll punish them for a home loss to OU instead. That’s a game the Horned Frogs should have won to bolster their NCAA Tournament hopes. More importantly, a first-day bye at the Big 12 Tournament appears to be slipping away.
9. Oklahoma State (9-16) (Last Week: 9)
Like West Virginia the Cowboys are several men down. What keeps them at No. 9 is the fact that their Top 3 players — Cam McGriff, Lindy Waters III and Thomas Dziagwa — are a cut above West Virginia’s Top 3 players.
10. West Virginia (10-15) (Last Week: 10)
With the departures of Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris, the Mountaineers really don’t have any depth left. The future is next season. All that’s left now is to end this lost season in Kansas City next month.
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