The sixth week of Big 12 basketball action saw some February NCAA seeds, a milestone win for Bill Self and TCU fall on some hard times. Here is this week’s Good, Bad and Ugly for Big 12 men’s basketball.
THE FIRST ‘SEEDS’ ARE IN
For the past few years the NCAA has done a February seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Think of it like the weekly rankings the College Football Playoff comes out with every Tuesday starting in November. They’re designed to give everyone an idea of what the committee is thinking as we enter the final six weeks of the season. In this case, the February seeding is done by the NCAA Tournament committee and only seeds the Top 16 teams, and then arranges them by region.
Those seedings came out during action on Saturday.
Here is the NCAA Bracket Reveal projected 16 teams: pic.twitter.com/FOyf5fEDmn— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 8, 2020
If you’ve been following along with Bracketology at both ESPN.com and CBSSports.com (by Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm, respectively), the Big 12 seedings are not a huge surprise. Baylor, being the No. 1 team in the nation, is the No. 1 overall seed. Kansas, with just three losses — all to Top 25 teams — is another No. 1 seed. West Virginia, for the moment, is a No. 2 seed, though these came out before their loss to Oklahoma. Still, I don’t believe that loss would have dropped the Mountaineers that much.
So on Monday when the AP poll comes out we should see Baylor and Kansas in the Top 3 again. For Baylor, it would be their fourth week at No. 1 and tie Gonzaga for the longest stint on top this season.
OKLAHOMA GETS THE WIN IT NEEDED
The Oklahoma Sooners have been working the outskirts of the Big 12 all season. I believe they’re the best team that isn’t in the Top 4 among Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Entering Saturday’s game with West Virginia, the Sooners didn’t have a win over a ranked team nor a win over the league’s Big 4. Well the Sooners changed that with a 69-59 win over the Mountaineers. Kristian Doolittle had a mammoth game — 27 points and 12 rebounds — which was so much fun to watch when I caught the replay on Sunday morning.
I’m not sure that this is the ‘win’ that solidifies the Sooners as an NCAA Tournament team. At the moment they have 15 wins and matchups with each of the ‘Big 4’ left. However, I’ve felt since the start of league action that they’re the best team outside of that Top 4. Now, with a win over one of those Big 4, and a win over a ranked team to boot, the Sooners seem pointed toward a 20-win season that should impress the committee. I’ll be writing more on the Sooners next week.
EXPECT TECH BACK IN THE TOP 25
I suspect we will see Texas Tech back in the Top 25 this week for a few reasons. First, the Red Raiders went 2-0 this week, including a home win over Oklahoma (which coupled with the Sooners’ win over West Virginia should impress voters). Plus, there could be movement in the Bottom 5 of the poll. No. 20 Illinois absorbed back-to-back losses in Big 12 play and No. 23 Arizona lost to UCLA on Saturday. Tech was the No. 26 team in the country last week, basically. So if, say, Illinois slides out, it would seem only natural that Tech slides in and gives the Big 12 a fourth ranked team.
SELF HITS 700
I was there for Bill Self’s 700th career victory on Saturday in Fort Worth, and I’ll writing a bigger piece on the accomplishment in the next few days. Until then, here is Self, after the game, talking about the accomplishment and what the program did for him to celebrate.
Plus, don’t forget my post-game piece from Fort Worth on Kansas’ postseason chances, which hinge on the play of two players.
OKLAHOMA STATE WINS A GAME
While the Oklahoma State Cowboys couldn’t upset Baylor on the road on Saturday, we need to point out that the Cowboys ended their 0-8 start to Big 12 action earlier in the week with a win over TCU. It helped avoid the Cowboys matching an 0-9 start to league action that is the worst in program history.
Plus, there was this awesome bit of sportsmanship by Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton Jr. after being tossed against Baylor on Saturday.
This is class.— ESPN (@espn) February 9, 2020
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton Jr. was ejected in the final seconds. Before leaving the arena, he went and shook the hands of everybody on Baylor’s bench 🤝 pic.twitter.com/18JFkPR4N0
WEST VIRGINIA’S ROAD WOES
Usually defense travels well. But the Mountaineers’ woes on the road are starting to get ridiculous.
West Virginia lost to Oklahoma, 69-59, on Saturday. It was the Mountaineers’ fourth loss in Big 12 action, all of which have come on the road. If you’re wondering, WVU’s only road win in Big 12 action came against Oklahoma State a month ago. And while it’s good to hold serve at home, you’re not going much of anywhere if you can’t win at least some of your league games on the road.
And there are trends that make it clear that the Mountaineers don’t play close games, either at home or on the road.
Let’s start at home. The Mountaineers are averaging 77.2 points per game in five Big 12 games and giving up 56 points per game. That’s a huge disparity, 21 points. The closest league game West Virginia has played at home was against Texas Tech. It won by 12.
On the road the gap flips. The Mountaineers are averaging 63.2 ppg and giving up 68.6 ppg. Now, that’s not nearly as significant a gap as the home schedule (just five points). But look at the results. The closest margin of loss was the seven-point loss to Kansas. So the Mountaineers, home or road, have not played a league game in which the outcome was decided by three points or less. That’s nuts after 10 league games. Plus, the Mountaineers are offensively challenged away from Morgantown, scoring 14 fewer points per game in league action.
It’s led some fans to try and describe the yin and yang nature of West Virginia at home and on the road. This one, frankly, is the best.
WVU at home vs away pic.twitter.com/sV20V7ZC3x— WVU Barstool (@WVUBarstool) February 8, 2020
Meanwhile, the loss on Saturday left head coach Bob Huggins one win behind Dean Smith on the all-time list. Here’s my piece from last week about Huggins moving past Adolph Rupp for No. 7 all-time.
TCU’S NOT IN A GOOD PLACE
TCU feasted on a rather easy schedule in non-conference and then unexpectedly started 3-0 n Big 12 action. Well, the Horned Frogs have fallen to earth with a five-game losing streak (and seven losses in their last eight games). I was at TCU’s loss to Kansas on Saturday, a game in which it only scored 46 points, including an 18-point first half. The Horned Frogs are an outfit searching for answers right now.
What was most troubling to head coach Jamie Dixon was that the Horned Frogs were only down four points in the second half and short-circuited with four turnovers in a two-minute stretch that allowed the Jayhawks to secure the game. It was one of the worst stretches of basketball I’ve seen this season.
TCU is 13-10 overall now and their hopes of making the NIT are in jeopardy.
FARMAGEDDON SHOWS HOW FAR ISU, KSU HAVE FALLEN
The Farmageddon showdown between Iowa State and Kansas State saw the Cyclones beat the Wildcats, 73-63. The win allowed the Cyclones to move to three league wins and avoid falling behind Kansas State in the Big 12 standings for ninth place. But in context to last season it shows just how quickly things can turn in one year.
Last year Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament.
Last year Kansas State won the Big 12 regular-season title, sharing it with Texas Tech.
Now both are at least three games under-.500 and searching for any way to make themselves eligible for the NIT. And it won’t be easy with eight league games left.
BIG 12 NOW GAMES THIS WEEK
On Wednesday there is one game on ESPN Plus and Big 12 Now, and it’s a big one — Kansas at West Virginia. So if you don’t have the subscription to ESPN Plus, here’s the link. We’ve made it really easy to sign up.
|BIG 12 STANDINGS||Conf.||All|
|West Virginia (13)||6-4||18-5|
Monday, Feb. 3
Baylor 73, Kansas State 67
Kansas 69, Texas 58
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Texas Tech 69, Oklahoma 61
Wednesday, Feb. 5
West Virginia 76, Iowa State 61
Oklahoma State 72, TCU 57
Saturday, Feb. 8
Kansas 60, TCU 46
Oklahoma 69, West Virginia 59
Texas Tech 62, Texas 57
Baylor 78, Oklahoma State 70
Iowa State 73, Kansas State 63
NEXT GAMES (all times CST unless noted)
Monday, Feb. 10
Baylor at Texas, 8 p.m., ESPN
TCU at Texas Tech, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Tuesday, Feb. 11
Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 8 p.m., ESPNU
Wednesday, Feb. 12
Kansas at West Virginia, 7 p.m. EST, ESPN+
Iowa State at Oklahoma, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday, Feb. 15
Oklahoma at Kansas, 11 a.m., ESPN
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, noon, CBS
Texas at Iowa State, 1 p.m., ESPN2
West Virginia at Baylor, 3 p.m., ESPN+
Kansas State at TCU, 4 p.m., ESPN+
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