Baylor Bears

Houston Reclaims the Throne in Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings for Week 16

Jan 27, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars forward J'Wan Roberts (13) controls the ball as Kansas State Wildcats forward David N'Guessan (1) defends during the first half at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 men’s basketball season is now 16 weeks old and we’re coming down to the final two weeks of the regular season.

Then, after that, we head to Kansas City for what could be the best Big 12 Basketball Tournament. It will certainly be the biggest — at least until next year when it the league swells to 16 teams.

 

After 16 weeks, we present our latest Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings for the 2023-24 season with four games remaining in conference play.

Tier One

1. Houston (24-3, 11-3) – Last Week — 2

2. Iowa State (21-6, 10-4) – Last Week — 1

Any questions? Not anymore. The Cougars have won five straight and can make a case as the country’s top team. The win over Iowa State showed Houston is the league’s best team right now. Barring injury or some kind of unexpected collapse, the Cougars will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and their path will likely take them through Dallas in the Sweet 16, assuming they’re not upset in the first two rounds.

The Cyclones became the first team to lose to Houston at home this season by single digits. That’s actually an accomplishment. Iowa State did not play poorly in the loss. The better team just won. Here’s hoping for a neutral court rematch in a few weeks. Only a loss to West Virginia at home would have necessitated a drop to the second tier. But the Cyclones, like the Cougars, remain undefeated at home.

Tier Two

3. Kansas (21-6, 9-5) – Last Week — 5

4. Texas Tech (19-8, 8-6) – Last Week — 4

 

5. TCU (19-8, 8-6) – Last Week — 6

6. BYU (19-8, 7-7) – Last Week — 7

7. Baylor (19-8, 8-6) – Last Week — 3

I was hesitant to move Kansas up to the top of this tier, even after blowing out Texas. The status of Kevin McCullar Jr. doesn’t sound good, as coach Bill Self isn’t sure when McCullar will return. But it’s about what happens on the court and not off, so the Jayhawks move up after an impressive win over Texas.

After that? The only thing that was clear was that Baylor had to drop after losing two games, albeit to ranked teams. That allowed TCU and BYU to move up a spot. Texas Tech held at No. 4, in spite of the road loss to UCF. The fact is each team on this tier, aside from Kansas, lost last week. And Kansas only played one game. I’m convinced if you put these five teams on a neutral floor and had them all play each other in a round-robin everyone would finish 2-2.

Tier Three

8. Oklahoma (19-8, 7-7) – Last Week — 8

So why leave Oklahoma out here on its own? Good question. The Sooners are stuck in the in between right now. I don’t believe they’re good enough to be on the second tier. But the Sooners are definitely not bad enough to be on the next tier. The emergence of Rivaldo Soares over the last month has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the conference. If OU makes noise in Kansas City and beyond, he’ll lead the charge.

Plus, the Sooners, I believe, are locks to go to the NCAA Tournament. The teams below them? Not so much.

Tier Four

9. Texas (17-10, 6-8) – Last Week — 9

10. Kansas State (16-11, 6-8) – Last Week — 12

 

11. Cincinnati (16-11, 6-8) – Last Week — 10

This is the bubble. At least one of these teams isn’t making the NCAA Tournament. There is enough runway left for them to win three more games and get to nine league wins, which would be beneficial in making a case for March Madness (thought it’s not a pre-requisite). Fewer than nine league wins and any of three teams may need to make a run in Kansas City. Or else, the NIT beckons.

Tier Five

12. Oklahoma State (12-15, 4-10) – Last Week — 11

13. UCF (14-12, 5-9) – Last Week — 13

14. West Virginia (9-18, 4-10) – Last Week — 14

This is the group that is basically done. Their only realistic shot to reach the NCAA Tournament is to win the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. UCF could sneak into the NIT (remember the Top 2 non-NCAA teams in the NET ratings get invitations). But the Knights’ loss to West Virginia was probably the final blow.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

To Top