Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings: The final stretch

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Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler attempts a layup around K-State senior forward Stephen Hurt in the first half of the then-No. 1 Sooners' 69-80 loss to the Wildcats Feb. 6, 2016, in Bramlage Coliseum. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

1. Kansas (26-4, 14-3) Last ranking: 1

Kansas is playing its best basketball at the right time, but I’m still tentative to go all in on the Jayhawks come tournament time. Their lack of a consistent inside presence does not bode well for a deep run. Great Kansas teams that have made deep runs in March in the past several years have had strong post presences: In 2008 they had Sasha Kaun and Cole Aldrich, and in 2012 they had Jeff Withey. But who knows? Maybe freshman Cheick Diallo comes alive in the tournament. Time will tell.

2. West Virginia (22-7, 11-5) Last ranking: 2

West Virginia has little to gain and a lot to lose in the final week. Beating Tech and Baylor guarantees the Mountaineers a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and probably a nice three seed in the NCAA Tournament. Two losses, however, could see the Mountaineers fall from the top tier of the conference all the way down to the bottom half. Head coach Bob Huggins and company must finish strong and validate a really nice season for the fans in Morgantown, West Virginia.

3. Oklahoma (22-6, 10-6) Last ranking: 3

Oklahoma is just limping its way to the finish line after playing a stretch of incredible basketball. I still think Oklahoma could make a deep tournament run, but head coach Lon Kruger needs to find a way to get senior guard Buddy Hield some help. It would be a shame if this Oklahoma team makes an early exit come tournament time. The Sooners have to find that high-level gear they were operating at early in the season.

4. Texas (19-11, 10-7) Last ranking: 4

The Longhorns had a chance to move into my top three, but top three teams don’t lose by 30 at home, no matter how good the other team is. What head coach Shaka Smart has done this season in Austin, Texas, has been fantastic and it shows great promise for the future. Unfortunately, the Longhorns’ big Monday loss against the Jayhawks looked like a real step backward.

5. Baylor (21-8, 10-6) Last ranking: 6

The Bears have a chance to get two top-25 wins to close out the season against Oklahoma and West Virginia. Baylor can really put a nice topper on a fairly successful season by just splitting, and winning both would be huge. Losing both may see Baylor drop down to sixth place (or seventh if Tech finishes strong).

6. Iowa State (21-9, 10-7) Last ranking: 7

I don’t know what to do with the Iowa State team. The Cyclones still are so talented, and if they are hitting shots they can beat almost anyone in the country. Unfortunately, their depth is a huge Achilles heel. A big win over Kansas to close out the season can give them momentum in their hunt to win another Big 12 Tournament.

7. Texas Tech (18-10, 8-8) Last ranking: 5

A 20-win season in Lubbock, Texas, is totally possible, which is kind of a miracle considering how bad the Red Raiders have been. A NCAA Tournament appearance seems imminent, and skies are officially brightening in west Texas.

8. K-State (15-14, 4-12) Last ranking: 8

The Wildcats are barely breathing. A loss to TCU kills their season for good, but wins over the Horned Frogs, Texas Tech and a good showing in the Big 12 Tournament will really allow K-State to put a good face on what has been a very disappointing season in Manhattan.

9. Oklahoma State (12-18, 3-13) Last ranking: 9

Rumors are circulating out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, that the Pokes will be coach shopping this summer. Head coachTravis Ford has a chance to make a plea for his job in the final stretch of the season. A last-chance win over Texas to close out the regular season and a solid tournament effort may go a long way in making the final decision.

10. TCU (11-18, 2-14) Last ranking: 10

TCU also may be looking to trade in head coach Trent Johnson for a more successful model. I like Trent, but the Horned Frogs have seen little improvement since they joined the Big 12 four seasons ago. It might be a good idea for TCU to try something new come next year.

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Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.