Big 12 basketball power rankings: Assessing teams before Christmas


1. No. 8 Texas (7-1)

The Longhorns are the highest-ranked Big 12 school. They utilize their big bodies down low in the post to get second opportunities and their athletic guards in the backcourt to get the open shots around the arc.

A lot of their success can be attributed to 6-foot-8 senior forward Jonathan Holmes, who is averaging over eight rebounds per game while being the team’s active scoring leader with 12.9 points per game.

2. No. 10 Kansas (7-1)

Kansas has definitely not been playing the best basketball, at least for the standards that they are held to. After starting the season and getting routed by 30 points by No. 1 Kentucky, the Jayhawks have slowly started to get their legs under them.

They have won five-straight since that loss to the Wildcats, including beating a then-ranked Michigan State to win the Orlando Classic. Junior forward Perry Ellis finally has his shot to be the pivotal piece for the Jayhawks and he has done well, averaging 14.6 points per game and 6.7 rebounds.

3. No. 14 Iowa State (6-1)

After being shocked in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic championship game by Maryland, the Cyclones have managed to bounce back. Last week, they got their first victory against a ranked team when they beat then-ranked Arkansas by nearly 20 points. Part of the Cyclones success is the multitude of scoring threats, having four players in the double-digits.

Junior forward Georges Niang is the Big 12’s leading scorer, averaging 18.0 points per game. Niang has proven that he can make a team pay either when he gets the ball down low or when he is fouled, netting 92 percent of his free throws.

4. No. 22 West Virginia (8-1)

The Mountaineers started their season on fire, winning seven-straight games including a win over then-No. 17 Connecticut. That win pushed them into the top 25.

With 126 steals, which are the most in the country, the Mountaineers have made a name for themselves with their ability to force bad decisions. They also don’t turn the ball over, having a +12 turnover margin, which leads to nothing but success.

5. No. 16 Oklahoma (5-2)

The Sooners came into the season being touted as one of the conferences best and have came through with having one of the best schedules. Oklahoma has an easy stretch remaining in their nonconference schedule before facing only one challenging opponent, No. 17 Washington.

The Sooners have relied on a very active frontcourt, averaging 42.3 rebounds per game. Junior forward Ryan Spangler creates mismatches, averaging 10 points and just under nine rebounds per game.

6. Baylor (7-1)

Like many of the other teams in the conference, the Bears have a lot that needs to be improved upon before conference action starts. Their only loss on the season came against a very hot Illinois team in the Las Vegas Invitational championship.

Baylor has put heavy emphasis on its defense in games, leading the conference in scoring defense with 52.6 points per game. With junior forward Rico Gathers in the low post, the team has come to expect to win the rebounding battle. Gathers is averaging a near double-double with over 10.3 rebounds and nine points a game.

7. Oklahoma State (7-1)

The games have been getting harder and harder for the Cowboys, who, after their first few games, have been getting to the real meat of the nonconference schedule.

Oklahoma State has a tough road ahead of them before conference play and after losing to South Carolina, they need to come back together before their last two nonconference game against No. 19 Maryland and Missouri.

Fortunately for the the Cowboys, they have two of the best scorers in the conference in senior forward Le’Bryan Nash and junior guard Phil Forte III who are averaging 17.6 and 17.5 points per game, respectively.

8. TCU (9-0)

In the case of the undefeated Horned Frogs, the record doesn’t tell the whole story. TCU has managed to play one of the easiest schedules in the conference. They have been tested this season by Washington State, Mississippi State and Ole Miss and they’ve won those games by an average of 16 points.

Not to put down programs like McNeese State, Grambling State or Furman, but TCU’s first real competition comes with their conference opener against West Virginia.

9. Texas Tech (5-1)

The Red Raiders do have wins over Air Force and Auburn and competed until the end in their overtime loss to LSU, but more is needed to be seen from the Red Raiders in order to move up the rankings.

While they do have quality wins, they don’t do it in a dramatic fashion. While these one-point wins count in the win column, they could be disastrous against opponents in the conference. Unfortunately, this team probably won’t know who they really are until the Big 12 season opens.

10. K-State (4-4)

The Wildcats knew what they were going to face when their 2014-15 schedule came out. Unlike other programs in the conference, K-State has a schedule that is full of competitive teams. While they have dropped games to opponents that they shouldn’t have lost to, they also haven’t won any games against opponents that have put up a real challenge.

The Wildcats biggest issues have come in fighting adversity at the end of games. In these contests, consistency becomes an issue. Also, 3-point shooting has been a crutch for this team and in games when they aren’t falling, like against Long Beach State and Pittsburgh, they struggle immensely.

Emilio Rivera is a sophomore in mass communications.