The Big 12 Conference is done with Week 5 of the 2021-22 men’s basketball season. Just some of the things that happened last week:
Iowa State won the Cy-Hawk Series game with an incredible defensive performance against Iowa.
Baylor staked its claim to the nation’s No. 1 ranking by blowing out No. 6 Villanova.
We broke down the initial NET ratings for men and women.
Kansas obliterated Missouri in the renewal of the ‘Border War.’
Baylor would be the nation’s No. 1 seed if the NCAA Tournament started today (per ESPN).
Also check out our Big 12 Basketball Tracker for updated men’s and women’s news every day.
That, and so much more, happened in Week 5. Here are our three takeaways.
The Defensive Reminder
Last week the Big 12 reminded everyone how defensive-minded this conference is and you didn’t need analytics or KenPom rankings to get the message.
Iowa State drilled Iowa by 20 points in the Cy-Hawk Series game and it was one of the best defensive performances you’ll see in non-conference action. Iowa State held Iowa, which scored 90 points per game going in, to just 53 points. They also shut out the nation’s leading scorer, Keegan Murray, for the first 28 minutes. He finished with just nine points.
Baylor hosted Villanova on Sunday and held the Wildcats to 22.2 percent shooting. The Wildcats scored 36 points, one of the lowest outputs of the Jay Wright era. As great as Villanova has been — it has won two national titles since 2016 — the Wildcats are 0-3 against Baylor under Wright.
Texas Tech took its vaunted defense on the road and held Tennessee to 52 points in a 57-52 overtime victory at the Jimmy V Classic. The Red Raiders held Tennessee to 26.8 percent shooting and used their defense to overcome 15 turnovers on offense.
West Virginia slugged it out with UConn like it did back in the Big East days and held the ranked Huskies to just 53 points.
Kansas obliterated Missouri, and while the Tigers shot well, they also had 20 turnovers as Kansas won, 102-65.
Oklahoma defeated Arkansas by 22 in a neutral-site game in which the Sooners held the Razorbacks to 27.3 percent shooting in the second half.
Even, Texas, in its loss to Seton Hall, held the Pirates to 64 points and their defense kept the Longhorns in a game during which they failed to score a point for nearly eight minutes in the second half.
Now, if YOU’RE into analytics, well Baylor is No. 2, Texas Tech is No. 6, Iowa State is No. 11, Oklahoma State is No. 13 and Texas is No. 22 in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy. That’s just the Top 25.
But sometimes you just need trust what you see.
A (Nearly) ‘Big Win’ Week
This was a high-value week for the Big 12, in terms of opponents and potential ‘statement’ wins. And the Big 12 won on nearly every front.
The Big 12 was 4-1 against ranked teams last week. Texas Tech defeated No. 13 Tennessee, 57-52, in overtime. West Virginia hosted No. 15 UConn and won, 56-53. Oklahoma beat No. 12 Arkansas by 22 points in a neutral site game, and No. 2 Baylor hosted and defeated No. 6 Villanova, 57-36.
Texas failed to make it a clean sweep over Top 25 teams, falling to Seton Hall, 64-60.
There were some important non-ranked wins, too. Iowa State dominated Iowa at home. Kansas beat Missouri at home.
Kansas State COULD have scored a big win for itself against Marquette but lost by a point at home.
The Big 12 made statements all over the place last week. To me, they remain a solid seven-bid league for the NCAA Tournament. And, if any of the non-NCAA Tournament picks can remain above-.500, they should slide into the NIT.
So … What’s Up With TCU?
TCU is, perhaps, the most perplexing team in the Big 12. I’m not sure what their identity is, but perhaps they’re finding it.
Last week the Horned Frogs scored two significant wins over teams from Power 5 conference. TCU defeated Utah, 76-62, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, and then beat Texas A&M, 68-64, in Houston on Saturday. Both of these are wins that significantly helped TCU’s overall NET rating.
This is HOW helpful it was. The Horned Frogs were No. 102 in NET at the start of the week. The two wins pushed them to No. 64 by Sunday.
A few weeks ago when I checked in on TCU, it seemed like the Horned Frogs were Mike Miles Jr. and Emanuel Miller and a bunch of other pieces. But now the other pieces may be starting to fall into place.
In the A&M win, Chuck O’Bannon tied his career high with 18 points. Sophomore center Eddie Lampkin Jr., someone head coach Jamie Dixon has stuck with despite some struggles, put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. In the Utah win, Miles tied his career high of 28 points, while JaKobe Coles had a career-high 10 points and tied four other career highs.
So while Miles and Miller still lead this team, O’Bannon, Damion Baugh, Micah Peavy, Lampkin and Coles are all averaging at least five points per game. Miller, Peavy and Lampkin are averaging at least five rebounds per game.
At this point, most of the Big 12’s team have that ‘third option’ lined out. I think it’s O’Bannon here. But the Horned Frogs appear to be cultivating enough depth for that ‘third option’ to rotate a bit. And, when that happens, as a season progresses, multiple third options can go off at the same time. If that happens, TCU becomes an intriguing team.
TCU has three games left. The one at Georgetown next Saturday is the big one. If the Horned Frogs win that one, there’s no reason they can’t go 11-1 going into Big 12 play. And they need those wins. With Kansas, West Virginia and Baylor to lead off league play, TCU will have its hands full.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.