The Kansas Jayhawks are No. 1 in the Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings after Week 7 of the 2022-23 season. Our Power Rankings will appear every Monday.
It’s a holiday week, and there are only four more non-conference games before Big 12 play tips off on Dec. 31. Given that every Big 12 team won all of its games last week, there won’t be many changes here. But, check out Heartland College Sports for thoughts on every team, men’s and women’s, going into Big 12 play, right up until tip-off on Saturday.
1. KANSAS (11-1: Last Week — 1)
Remember the team that followed after the Jayhawks won their first title under Bill Self in 2008? They had seven new recruits come in after losing eight players to eligibility and the NBA Draft. That team fell out of the Top 25 for nearly two months before returning, winning the Big 12 and going to the Sweet 16. This team following last April’s national championship team is already better than that 2008-09 team and ranked in the Top 10. Kansas looks like the team to beat in the Big 12.
2. TEXAS (10-1: Last Week — 2)
Texas is one of four Big 12 teams with a non-conference tune-up before their Big 12 opener, which is at arch-rival Oklahoma. It’s going to be a charged environment. I totally expect OU’s fans to give it to the Longhorns over the allegations levied against suspended head coach Chris Beard (allegations that his fiancé retracted on Friday). Texas would do well to compartmentalize all of that from the team and acting head coach Rodney Terry. The fewer distractions the better for a team that has Final Four talent and aspirations — and has nothing to do with Beard’s alleged behavior.
3. BAYLOR (9-2: Last Week — 3)
Baylor gets one more game before starting Big 12 action. The Bears’ two losses are against ranked teams, so there’s little reason to be worried about this team going into league action. The difference between beginning a legitimate league contender and one that will have a good league season will be how well their interior plays.
4. KANSAS STATE (11-1: Last Week — 4)
I was asked on Big 12 Radio recently why Kansas State isn’t getting enough love nationally. It’s hard to say. The Wildcats have a great feel-good story in Keyontae Johnson, a tremendous point guard in Markquis Nowell, who already has 100 assists, and a team that has taken to new coach Jerome Tang’s infectious energy. K-State doesn’t have a Top 25 win. That could be the only reason. But that chance is coming soon. Win a couple of those games and the Wildcats will get ranked.
5. IOWA STATE (9-2: Last Week — 5)
The weather stole the Cyclones’ last shot at a non-conference game before Christmas, so they’ll be well-rested for the game with Baylor. Coach T.J. Otzelberger has built a team similar to last year’s — a great defensive team that, at times, has difficulties on offense. In walks Tre King, who hasn’t played in more than a year due to transfer rules but returned to the floor in the Cyclones’ final game before the break. Can he give Iowa State’s offense additional juice?
6. TCU (10-1: Last Week — 6)
TCU gets a tune-up at mid-week before hosting Texas Tech to start Big 12 play. Center Eddie Lampkin Jr. played in the Horned Frogs’ last game at Utah. Forward Emanuel Miller had a season-high in points against the Utes. The Horned Frogs are completely healthy for the first time this season. Perfect timing.
7. TEXAS TECH (9-2: Last Week — 7)
Tech will get one more tune-up before TCU. Fortunately forward Daniel Batcho is back after a minor injury. No word on when exactly forward Fardaws Aimaq will be back. Thank goodness for forward Kevin Obanor. The defense, as always, will be great in Lubbock. Can the offense come through?
8. WEST VIRGINIA (10-2: Last Week — 8)
If I’m the Mountaineers, I’m not counting on guard Jose Perez’s waiver appeal getting heard this season. That would be a shame because he would give the Mountaineers some firepower going into Big 12 action. They could use it. They’re an above-average offensive team now and play quality defense. The rebounding has to get a little bit better. Bob Huggins has said it. He also called out work ethic after the Mountaineers’ last win. Is that Bob being Bob or is something up?
9. OKLAHOMA (9-3: Last Week — 9)
Oklahoma’s win over Florida at the Jumpman Invitational was a really good one for the Sooners. They needed it. Grant Sherfield has been the best guard that no one in the Big 12 is talking about. That will change once the league gets a look at him in Big 12 action. Now, can the Sooners generate enough offense and defense in the paint?
10. OKLAHOMA STATE (8-4: Last Week — 10)
The Cowboys are the last Big 12 team to lose a game. That was back on Dec. 11 against Virginia Tech. The Cowboys have certainly challenged themselves this non-conference, and it’s hurt their record (but not their NET rating). The Cowboys have the most work to do in order to reach March Madness. The good news is they have the talent and the motivation to do it.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.