Big 12 Power Rankings: A new No. 1, and a new threat, emerge

There’s a new top dog in the Big 12, and a new squad threatening to play spoiler for the entire league.

Texas Tech claimed sole possession of first place in the conference following Saturday night’s win over Kansas State.

As for the new threat? The Baylor Bears seemed to have turned a corner following a 2-0 week that was punctuated with an upset of Kansas.

With 6 games left in Big 12 play, pure anarchy is sure to ensue over the last few weeks. As all 10 teams rev up towards the finish line, here’s how Big 12 stacks up:

1. Texas Tech

Record: 21-4, 9-3 Big 12

Last Week: def. Iowa State 76-58, def. Kansas State 66-47

This Week: vs. Oklahoma (Tuesday, 6 p.m. CT), @ Baylor (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CT)

One of just two teams in the Big 12 to go 2-0 this past week, the Red Raiders are the new sole possessors of first place in the league.

Texas Tech earned that right with a 66-47 win over Kansas State Saturday night — that win was the fourth time the Red Raiders held a Big 12 team under 60 points.

If defense does indeed win championships, the Red Raiders can feel good about heading into two tough games this week as they rank No. 5 nationally in scoring defense (62.0).

2. Kansas

Record: 19-6, 8-4 Big 12

Last Week: def. TCU 71-64, loss to Baylor 80-64

This Week: @ Iowa State (Tuesday, 6 p.m. CT), vs. West Virginia (Saturday, 5 p.m. CT)

They Jayhawks have never had four Big 12 losses this early in the year under Bill Self until this season.

Yet, Bill Self has still been here before in the conference standings and come away with Big 12 titles every time.

Kansas gets an opportunity to prove its a championship-caliber team this week if it can win at Ames — a place that has seen Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas Tech walk away from in defeat — then at home against West Virginia.

3. West Virginia

Record: 18-7, 7-5 Big 12

Last Week: def. Oklahoma 75-73, loss to Oklahoma State 88-85

This Week: vs. TCU (Monday, 8 p.m. CT), @ Kansas (Saturday, 5 p.m. CT)

The Mountaineers continue to be one of the most perplexing teams in the conference.

The week started out with a road win at Oklahoma — where West Virginia survived 32 points from Trae Young — before dropping a home game late to Oklahoma State.

West Virginia hasn’t had a 2-0 week since the very first week of January — that inconsistency has ultimately defined a team that looks like world-beaters one day then shows extreme vulnerability the next.

If there was any bright side to the Mountaineers’ loss to the Cowboys, it’s that Jevon Carter scored a career-high 33 points. If he can add that type of offensive production to his already stellar defensive presence, that could spark West Virginia down the stretch.

4. Kansas State

Record: 17-8, 6-6 Big 12

Last Week: def. Texas 67-64, loss to Texas Tech 66-47

This Week: @ Oklahoma State (Wednesday, 6 p.m. CT), vs. Iowa State (Saturday, noon CT)

K-State’s placement in these power rankings — and the actual Big 12 standings for that matter — is the easiest to discern.

The Wildcats are 0-6 against Texas Tech, Kansas and West Virginia — the three teams above them. But they’re also 6-0 against the six teams below them.

Bracket Matrix lists Kansas State as a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats’ last six games of Big 12 play are all against teams below them in the standings.

If Bruce Weber and Co. want to improve their footing on the bubble, it’ll be imperative for them to finish the season strong.

5. Oklahoma

Record: 16-8, 6-6 Big 12

Last Week: loss to  West Virginia 75-73, loss to Iowa State 88-80

This Week: @ Texas Tech (Tuesday, 6 p.m. CT), vs. Texas (Saturday, 11 a.m. CT)

Oklahoma’s Red River Rivalry companion, Texas, was the only other team in the league to go 0-2 last week.

Trae Young continues to be an enigma despite putting up big numbers. The star freshman point guard hasn’t shot over 40% on the road once in Big 12 play, and the Sooners are 1-5 on the road within the Big 12.

A brutal road trip to Lubbock kicks off the week for Oklahoma before they host the Longhorns. The Red Raiders will be looking to maintain control of the league, while Texas is now fighting for its life on the bubble.

6. Baylor

Record: 15-10, 5-7 Big 12

Last Week: def. Oklahoma State 67-56, def. Kansas 80-64

This Week: @ Texas (Monday, 8 p.m CT), vs. Texas Tech (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CT)

The Bears have turned over a new leaf, going 3-1 over their last four games. That mark includes wins over Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Kansas and just a 2-point loss to Oklahoma.

A big reason for the revival of the Bears is the emergence of Nuni Omot, a perfect complement to Manu Lecomte on the perimeter and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. in the post.

Baylor is on the very fringes of any NCAA Tournament bubble conversations. Its best non-conference win is against Creighton — certainly a quality victory but not earth-shattering. Still, an upset over Kansas gives reason to believe the Bears could do damage if they go on a late run to make the tourney.

7. Oklahoma State

Record: 15-10, 5-7 Big 12

Last Week: loss to Baylor 67-56, def. West Virginia 88-85

This Week: vs. Kansas State (Wednesday, 6 p.m. CT), @ TCU (Saturday, 7 p.m. CT)

Quick, who has the two biggest road wins over the last week-and-a-half in the Big 12?

It’s definitely the Cowboys, who are 2-1 over their last three games. The two wins were at Kansas and at West Virginia — putting a particular sting on that home loss to Baylor.

The Cowboys have a better overall NCAA Tournament resume than the Bears — but Baylor has beaten Oklahoma State twice.

This week is almost a mirror of last week for the Cowboys as they host Kansas State — a quality Big 12 team on the bubble — before traveling to TCU for another chance at a marquee road win.

8. TCU

Record: 17-8, 5-7 Big 12

Last Week: loss to Kansas 71-64, def. Texas 87-71

This Week: @ West Virginia (Monday, 8 p.m. CT), vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, 7 p.m. CT)

The Horned Frogs put together their fourth-straight 1-1 week with a road loss to the Jayhawks before a wire-to-wire victory over Texas.

Part of TCU’s struggles heading into the Texas game was the lack of Jaylen Fisher out on the floor, leading to issues with ball security.

TCU gets a big opportunity to bolster its resume with a Big Monday showdown against West Virginia before hosting a bubble-hunting Oklahoma State team.

9. Texas

Record: 15-10, 5-7 Big 12

Last Week: loss to Kansas State 67-64, loss to TCU 87-71

This Week: vs. Baylor (Monday, 8 p.m. CT), @ Oklahoma (Saturday, 11 a.m. CT)

Just over a week removed from the Longhorns’ upset of Oklahoma, Texas now finds itself reeling from an 0-2 week that could have popped its bubble.

Kansas State, a team that had just lost by 38 points to West Virginia, but the Longhorns in Austin before TCU won in wire-to-wire fashion.

It only gets harder for the Longhorns this week as they host a resurrected Baylor then travel to a revenge-seeking Oklahoma.

10. Iowa State

Record: 13-11, 4-8 Big 12

Last Week: loss to Texas Tech 76-58, def. Oklahoma 88-80

This Week: vs. Kansas (Tuesday, 6 p.m. CT), @ Kansas State (Saturday, noon CT)

You know the Big 12 is brutally tough beyond any measure when a team with wins over Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma is dead last in the standings and power rankings.

But that’s reality for Iowa State.

The Cyclones are a dangerous team that has a bona fide star in Lindell Wigginton. The Canadian is averaging 16.3 points per game and has dropped double digits in each of his last nine games against Big 12 opponents.

Hilton Magic gets another opportunity on Tuesday against Kansas before the Cyclones get to replay Farmageddon in Manhattan.

The post Big 12 Power Rankings: A new No. 1, and a new threat, emerge appeared first on Diehards.

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