The Oklahoma Sooners slide up to No. 1 in the Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings as of Feb. 15. Of course, it comes with a caveat. With Baylor not playing a game this week, the Bears are not part of the power rankings, as per my policy. If you don’t play, you don’t get ranked.
1. Oklahoma (13-5, 8-4) (Last week: 4)
Results this past week: vs. Baylor, postponed; def. West Virginia, 91-90.
Just one game this week, but it was a doozy and it moves the Sooners up to No. 1 for this week because they beat West Virginia on the road. But, now the Sooners have the season sweep of the Mountaineers, a key tiebreaker if we’re talking about the Big 12 Tournament. Lon Kruger has this ENTIRE team moving in the right direction now. I do have to acknowledge here that the Sooners were swept by Texas Tech. But that’s the nature of this conference right now. Everyone below Baylor is slugging it out. Right now, all things considered, I think the Sooners are playing the best of the bunch. But it would be ridiculous to think the gap between the Sooners and the next four teams on this list is significant. The Sooners host Texas on Tuesday and then travel to Iowa State on Saturday.
2. West Virginia (14-6, 7-4) (Last Week: 2)
Results this past week: def. Texas Tech, 82-71; lost to Oklahoma, 91-90.
The Mountaineers played in two of the best games of the week. Heck, let’s be honest. The BEST two games of the week. WVU defeated Texas Tech on the road behind Sean McNeil’s huge game in place of Taz Sherman. Then, the Mountaineers came home and slugged it out with Oklahoma in double overtime, but lost. McNeil had another huge game, but so did Derek Culver and Miles McBride. Sherman is back now, and he gets a week to rest up. The Mountaineers aren’t in action until next Saturday at Texas, thanks to the Baylor COVID-19 pause. The Mountaineers were scheduled to play the Baylor Bears twice in four days this week. But those games will need to be rescheduled. With or without Baylor in action, the Mountaineers are a formidable force in this conference.
3. Texas Tech (14-6, 6-5) (Last week: 3)
Results this past week: lost to West Virginia, 82-71; vs. Baylor, postponed.
This is where missing a game due to the COVID pause hurts. We only have the Red Raiders’ loss to West Virginia to go on, and that’s why they maintain the No. 3 spot here. Texas Tech played a quality game against West Virginia, only to lose. The thing is, I think the Red Raiders are in a good place right now. They’re a deeper team than they were a month ago. I feel like they’re building toward something at the right time. And there’s a lot of that going around in the Big 12. The Red Raiders face TCU twice this week — Monday and Wednesday — before traveling to Kansas on Saturday.
Oh, and just in case you missed (though I can’t imagine how) …
4. Texas (13-5, 7-4) (Last week: 6)
Results this past week: def. Kansas State, 80-77; def. TCU, 70-55.
Texas absolutely needed a week like this. The wins over Kansas State and TCU may not have been pretty, but these were two teams they SHOULD beat, if they’re a Top 15 team. Going into the week the Longhorns had lost three straight and had three other games either postponed or canceled. So, they’ve struggled in finding some consistency. But this is the type of week that can help a team like Texas turn a corner, as they have three ranked teams left on the schedule, at least for now. Plus, Texas is about to embark on a three-game week, facing Oklahoma on Tuesday, Iowa State on Thursday, and West Virginia on Saturday.
5. Kansas (15-7, 9-5) (Last week: 7)
Results this past week: def. Oklahoma State, 78-66; def. Iowa State, 97-64; def. Iowa State, 64-50.
Speaking of a team that needed a week like this … the Jayhawks won three games, including one against a ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. The best thing about it is that redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson had a double-double in all three games. After a sluggish January, the young Jayhawk is starting to come around. Kansas looked better this week, but they’ve been so inconsistent all season that it’s hard to say if it’s a sign or fool’s gold. Kansas gets one more game it SHOULD win, against Kansas State on Wednesday, before rolling into three straight games against ranked teams (Texas Tech, Texas, and Baylor).
6. Oklahoma State (13-6, 6-6) (Last week: 5)
Results this past week: lost to Kansas, 78-66; def. Kansas State, 67-60.
Oklahoma State missed a shot at sweeping Kansas for the second time under head coach Mike Boynton Jr., but holding off Kansas State was a sign that the Cowboys are able to handle the teams they should handle in Big 12 action. Cade Cunningham had another strong week, but he’s doing plenty to bring these young players along, too. The Cowboys have two games coming up this week, facing Iowa State on Tuesday and Baylor on Saturday, and the Cowboys would be catching the Bears after two weeks off, as the Bears have been on a long COVID-19 pause.
7. TCU (11-8, 4-6) (Last week: 8)
Results this past week: def. Iowa State, 79-76; lost to Texas, 70-55.
The Horned Frogs beat Iowa State, but it took until the final seconds to do it. Then, falling to Texas, TCU at least got Mike Miles back, who had missed the Iowa State game due to a non-COVID illness (we have to write that these days). They’re ‘that team’ that just isn’t quite there yet, and probably won’t be there by season’s end. One player worth watching the next few weeks is freshman Terren Frank, who had eight points in each of those games off the bench. Now, TCU has back-to-back games with Texas Tech on Monday and Wednesday, before ending the week against Kansas State.
8. Kansas State (5-17, 1-12) (Last week: 9)
Results this past week: lost to Texas, 80-77; lost to Oklahoma State, 67-60.
Two losses this week, but the Wildcats continue play better, though it’s incremental. The loss to Texas was a missed opportunity, as they had a chance to catch a Top 15 team sleeping and just couldn’t close the deal. Against Oklahoma State they fell behind on the road, but went on a 16-0 run at one point and closed the lead to four before the Cowboys rode away. Antonio Gordon had a great game against OSU. This team has a lot of great, young pieces. It’s just not going to come together this year. Next week Kansas State tries to break its 12-game losing streak against Kansas and TCU. The Wildcats move up a spot by virtue of Baylor dropping out since it didn’t play.
9. Iowa State (2-14, 0-11) (Last week: 10)
Results this past week: lost to TCU, 79-76; lost to Kansas, 97-64; lost to Kansas, 64-50.
Three games, three losses. I’m not sure Cyclone fans want me to belabor that at this point.
NR. Baylor (17-0, 9-0) (Last Week: 1)
Results this past week: vs. Oklahoma, postponed; vs. Texas Tech, postponed.
The Bears, of course, were on a COVID-19 pause all week, and they will continue that pause to start the week, as both of their games with West Virginia have been postponed. As of now, the Bears are set to play Oklahoma State on Saturday. But we’ll see. By now you know the rules — if you don’t play, you’re not ranked. Though I don’t think anyone disagrees with the idea that the Bears are the best team in the conference unless, say, you live in Morgantown … or Lubbock … or Austin … or Norman … or even Lawrence, if you’re in denial.
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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