For the first time in a while, we have a new No. 1. With the craziness that the Big 12 offers, we may have a new No. 1 before the week is out. In addition to the new team on top, another new team has flopped gracefully to the bottom. Read on to figure out who is where.
1. West Virginia* (19-4, 8-2) Last Week: 2
The Mountaineers are kings of the Big 12 for at least two and a half days. They can maintain their spot on the mountaintop by fending off Kansas and Oklahoma. They had Kansas on Tuesday and Oklahoma in a little over a week. This is a big opportunity for Bob Huggins’ bunch.
2. Oklahoma (20-3, 8-3) Last Week: 1
Another loss to K-State in Manhattan means that the Sooners lose their top spot, not only in my rankings but also in the national polls. They rebounded very nicely in one of the more entertaining Red River Rivalry games in recent history. Now, in order to stay in striking distance of that Big 12 Championship, the Sooners must take down Kansas in Norman, Oklahoma.
3. Kansas* (19-4, 7-3) Last Week: 4
The whole season could come down to this week. If the Jayhawks want to win the Big 12 again (and God knows they do), they can essentially do it this week. They can also lose it this week. Beating West Virginia and Oklahoma gives Kansas a lead in the Big 12 once again. This next week is what it’s all about. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
4. Texas (16-8, 7-4) Last Week: 3
The hottest team in the country fell like so many teams have: at the hands of Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield. Yes, the Longhorns led for the majority of the matchup, but it doesn’t matter when you let Hield score the final 12 points for the Sooners — all with under four minutes left in the game — including a three to take the lead with a second left. The Horns’ toughness will continue to be tested as they take on Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, and then West Virginia.
5. Iowa State (17-6, 6-4) Last Week: 5
Jameel McKay’s suspension has not helped an already shallow Iowa State team. The Cyclones got around a plummeting Oklahoma State fine, but four of their final seven games are against ranked teams. They will have to figure something out if they don’t want to see more losses pile up.
6. Baylor (17-6, 6-4) Last Week: 6
The Bears have banked up enough goodwill with their strong conference start that their two-game losing streak hasn’t caused much of a to-do; however, a loss to K-State on Wednesday will definitely start to raise some eyebrows in Waco, Texas. With a loss to Texas Tech after that, melt-down mode might be in effect.
7. K-State (14-9, 3-7) Last Week: 7
Talk about lighting a fire under your season. K-State’s win over No. 1 Oklahoma has been huge for refocusing the entire Wildcat community on the possibility of March Madness. For that to happen, the Wildcats must continue their momentum by knocking off No. 21 Baylor. K-State can’t let the ship sink now that it is pointed in the right direction.
8. Texas Tech (13-9, 3-7) Last Week: 8
The longer the season goes on, the better Texas Tech’s win over Texas looks. The Red Raiders are eighth solely based on the fact that they are better than TCU and Oklahoma State but not better than K-State. Sometimes life just works like that. It’s not about the Red Raiders, it’s about everyone around them.
9. TCU (11-13, 2-9) Last Week: 10
Revenge, thy name is SuperFrog. After an embarrassing 20-point loss in Stillwater, Oklahoma, TCU head coach Trent Johnson and his team mustered up enough vigor and might to round up a seven-point win over Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs still have to win five of their final seven games to finish with a winning record. It is a tall task, but anything can happen. (Except for TCU finishing with a winning record. That’s not happening.)
10. Oklahoma State (11-13, 2-9) Last Week: 9
How much more bad basketball will the denizens of Stillwater, Oklahoma, stand before they riot? This was never supposed to be a banner year for Oklahoma State, and with the injury to Phil Forte II early in the season, perception got worse. But I think Cowboy fans would agree that no one expected it to be this bad. The Cowboys’ loss to TCU marks a new low for a flailing Oklahoma State team.
*This article was written before West Virginia at Kansas Tuesday night but published after due to the publishing schedule of the Tip-off guides. Sorry for any confusion.