Baylor remained a steady No. 1 in the Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings as of Feb. 8. But there was quite the shake-up starting at No. 2. A full week’s worth of games — with one notable exception — led to some chaos from Nos. 2 through 6.
1. Baylor (17-0, 9-0) (Last Week: 1)
Results this past week: def. Texas, 83-69; vs. TCU, postponed.
We hyped the match-up with Texas going in, and the Bears were up to the challenge. There doesn’t seem to be much standing in the way of the Bears finishing off a Big 12 regular-season championship. An undefeated conference slate is another matter, because Baylor has several ranked teams ahead. The Bears are on another COVID-19 pause, which postponed their game with TCU on Saturday and with Oklahoma on Saturday. But, even with just one game last week, the Bears stay at No. 1. But the pause does make the opportunity to schedule a game with Gonzaga that much harder.
2. West Virginia (13-5, 6-3) (Last Week: 4)
Results this past week: def. Iowa State, 76-72; def. Kansas, 91-79
We slide the Mountaineers up two spots this week on the strength of their wins over Iowa State and Kansas. The Mountaineers have now won four of their last five games, which stretches back to their two-week COVID-19 pause. So I think it’s safe to say the Mountaineers are on the right track. And the 1-2 punch of Miles McBride and Taz Sherman at guard is going to be tough to contend with down the stretch. The Mountaineers will need it, too. The next four games are against ranked teams.
3. Texas Tech (14-5, 6-4) (Last week: 5)
Results this past week: def. Oklahoma, 57-52; def. Kansas State, 73-62
The Red Raiders move up two spots this week, as well. Beating the Sooners was a nice feather, but it also meant a season-sweep of the Sooners for the Red Raiders, and that may come in handy at Big 12 Tournament time. In beating the Sooners, the Red Raiders cooled off one of the hottest teams in the country. Tech has now won three straight games, and the play of Kevin McCullar is galvanizing the team going into a pair of games this week against West Virginia and Baylor.
4. Oklahoma (12-5, 7-4) (Last week: 2)
Results this past week: lost to Texas Tech, 57-52; def. Iowa State, 79-72
The Sooners take a two-spot drop this week, but the Sooners have still won five of their last six, and the way they played against Iowa State on Saturday leads me to believe they could fluctuate up and down from Nos. 2 to 4 the rest of the season. Austin Reaves is back and had a big game. Elijah Harkless had a career game. Umoja Gibson has emerged as one of the deadliest threats from the 3-point line. And, guess what? Brady Manek is finally starting to play like Brady Manek. The Sooners get a one-week break, thanks to Baylor’s COVID-19 pause, so the Sooners won’t play until facing West Virginia next Saturday.
5. Oklahoma State (12-5, 5-5) (Last week: 6)
Results this past week: lost to TCU, 81-78; def. Texas, 75-67 (2 OT)
The Cowboys were kicking themselves after that loss in Fort Worth. They were a better decision from Cade Cunningham away from winning that one. Against Texas, the Cowboys didn’t let it get away, though it took two overtimes to do it. Kalib Boone had a huge game for the Cowboys, his second double-double in three games. It’s just another example of the young, talented roster that head coach Mike Boynton is building while the entire country is focused on Cunningham.
6. Texas (11-5, 5-4) (Last week: 3)
Results this past week: lost to Baylor, 83-69; lost to Oklahoma State, 75-67 (2 OT)
It’s now time to deal with the fact that Texas has lost four of its last five games, dating back to its loss to Texas Tech on Jan. 13. In between, the Longhorns lost two games to COVID-19 pauses at Iowa State and TCU, and another game to a Kentucky COVID pause. Now, three of those losses have come to ranked teams. But the loss to Oklahoma State is one the Longhorns were in position to avoid, but their uneven play is catching up with them. Andrew Jones is carrying this club and they need more from the frontcourt.
7. Kansas (12-7, 6-5) (Last week: 7)
Results this past week: def. Kansas State, 74-51; lost to West Virginia, 91-79
This is who Kansas is now — a team that is going to beat the teams it SHOULD beat, but there aren’t that many teams the Jayhawks SHOULD beat in the Big 12 right now. Dispatching Kansas State easily made sense. So did losing to West Virginia on the road. With back-to-back games against Iowa State this week, after a rematch with Oklahoma State, Kansas has a chance to pad its win total — or truly end up in big trouble.
8. TCU (10-7, 3-5) (Last week: 8)
Results this past week: def. Oklahoma State, 81-78; vs. Baylor, postponed.
The Horned Frogs won their first game since Jan. 2 when they beat the Cowboys on Feb. 3. That snapped a five-game losing streak, and the only reason it wasn’t worse was because the Horned Frogs had to go on a three-game COVID-19 pause and, well, all three of those games were against ranked teams (West Virginia, Texas Tech and Texas). There’s no temptation to move them up this week, and the road ahead is treacherous — four of their next seven scheduled games against ranked teams. And that’s BEFORE the COVID-19 games are rescheduled.
9. Kansas State (5-14, 1-9) (Last week: 9)
Results this past week: lost to Kansas, 74-51; lost to Texas Tech, 73-62
Nijel Pack is back, and that’s good news for the Wildcats. It just hasn’t translated into a win for them. The Wildcats haven’t won in 2021. Neither has the No. 10 team on this list. What’s kept the Wildcats ahead of the Cyclones is my gut instinct that the Wildcats were playing better than the Cyclones. And they have been. But, the Cyclones are catching up. And it’s unclear if the Wildcats will get a shot at the sweep, since their rematch was postponed due to COVID-19.
10. Iowa State (2-11, 0-8) (Last week: 10)
Results this past week: lost to West Virginia, 76-72; lost to Oklahoma, 79-72
Yes, the Cyclones are in the cellar again. But we shouldn’t ignore that they’re playing better. The Cyclones had perhaps their best game from the 3-point line against Oklahoma, and Javan Johnson is finally starting to round back into form. I’m not saying the Cyclones are suddenly going to be world-beaters or anything like that. But their chances of ending this winless run through Big 12 play, at some point, have gotten significantly better.
READ MORE: Big 12 Mailbag: What’s Wrong with Iowa State.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard. Send him a tweet with your question to be included in this week’s Big 12 Basketball Mailbag, which appears each Friday during the conference season.
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