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Big 12 Men's Basketball Rankings, 12/16/08

I'm taking a short break from studying to catch up on what's happened thus far in the Big 12 men's basketball season.  With a few exceptions, most of the teams have played the best of their non-conference schedule and will face cupcakes throughout the winter break in preparation for conference play, which begins on Saturday, January 10th.  Here's how I see it, thus far.

1.  Oklahoma

Record: 10-0

Best Win: Davidson

Worst Loss: None

Best Loss: None

Blake Griffin is dominating and, even when he isn't, the Sooners are still winning.  Jeff Capel is building a beast in Norman.  Any chance Coach K retires soon so we can get him out of here?

2.  Texas

Record: 8-1

Best Win: UCLA

Worst/Best Loss: Notre Dame

Texas is off to a very good start given that they lost D.J. Augustin, one of the best college point guards I've ever seen.  A little slip against Notre Dame in Maui and OU's general dominance keeps them out of the top spot.  The Horns are playing a killer non-con, having already taken on UCLA, Notre Dame and Villanova, with tilts against Wisconsin and Michigan State pending.  Rest assured, this team will be battle tested come conference play.

3.  Missouri

Record: 10-1

Best Win: USC

Worst/Best Loss: Xavier

I've been impressed by the Tigers thus far.  Even in their loss to Xavier, they played well most of the game, then bounced back to knock off USC.  By getting to play the North teams twice this season, they have an excellent chance to stay near the top of the conference standings.

4.  Baylor

Record: 8-1

Best Win: Arizona State

Worst/Best Loss: Wake Forest

After the top two, it gets muddled.  I'm giving the Bears the nod because of their experience, athleticism, and having a slightly better loss than Texas A&M.  The Bears, like several teams in the Big 12, are a team that could push for the conference title/first-round bye...or finish 8-8.  Looking forward to seeing more of this team in the near future, as I only caught about a half of their game against Washington State.

5.  Texas A&M:

Record: 8-1

Best Win: Arizona

Worst/Best Loss: Tulsa

A slug it out, grind it out team that's not going to light up the scoreboard but will probably win its share of games.  If you're an Aggie, you have to be a bit concerned about the defense -- giving up 64 points/game thus far -- but this team is picking up wins.  The game against Arizona looked like a lost cause, but the Aggies found a way to come back and win.  Probably a team that could push for a first-round bye in OKC or finish 7-9.

6.  KU

Record: 7-2

Best Win: Washington

Worst Loss: Massachusetts

Best Loss: Syracuse

Pretty much what I expected to see out of a young team thus far.  Had Syracuse down in KC but couldn't finish the deal, then played a wretched game against UMass in the same building three weeks later.  This team has a lot of good athletes, but it hasn't all come together for them yet.  If it coalesces, this could be a solid team by February.  If not, we'll be able to hear the bitching from Manhattan.

7.  K-State

Record: 7-3

Best Win: Cleveland State

Worst Loss: Oregon

Best Loss: Kentucky

The Cats narrowly get the edge over Nebraska becacuse I consider the Best Win category a wash, while Nebraska's worst loss is worse than the Cats' and despite having one more loss, the Cats have been very close in every loss.  Oh, but for a couple buckets in Vegas and a better start to the second half against Oregon.  Still, this team shows a lot of potential when they play together and run an offense.  Like the chickens, if they come together in the next few weeks, they could be a pretty good team by February.

8.  Nebraska

Record: 6-2

Best Win: Creighton

Worst Loss: Oregon State

Best Loss: Arizona State

After the win against Creighton, the Huskers surely had to think they were setting up a nice non-conference showing.  That all unraveled in two games against the Pac-10, as NU got manhandled by Arizona State and then dropped a decision to an Oregon State team that is probably going to be 10th in the 10-team Pac-10.  The way they play defense, the Huskers will probably be able to hang around and give some better teams problems, but their lack of inside scoring is going to kill them when conference play starts.

9.  Texas Tech

Record: 7-2

Best Win: Mississippi State

Worst Loss: Lamar

Best Loss: Pitt

The Red Raiders get the nod over Oklahoma State because they have a better win and because Oklahoma State has lost Ibrahima Thomas to discliplinary problems.  Probably going to be a struggle this winter for Pat Knight's boys, as the loss to Lamar shows, but with that little bastard Alan Voskuil (yes, I'm still bitter) shooting threes, they might have a puncher's chance to pick up an upset or two.

10.  Oklahoma State

Record: 8-3

Best Win: Tulsa

Worst Loss: Washington

Best Loss: Gonzaga

As previoulsy mentioned, this team is in trouble without Ibrahima Thomas in the middle.  Also get dinged for having a first-year coach, as first-year coaches rarely have good seasons in conference play.  Another team that I want to see on TV a little bit, so I can get a better idea of how they stack up.

11.  Iowa State

Record: 6-3

Best Win: Northern Iowa

Worst Loss: Drake

Best Loss: Iowa

Gregg McDermott is in yet another "rebuilding" year.  At some point he's going to have to produce, or the natives up in Ames are going to get restless.  The Cyclone fans are without a doubt the most fanatic fans who don't really have anything to be fanatic about, and dealing with bad basketball winter after frigid winter on the Iowa corn plains isn't going to go over well.

12.  Colorado

Record: 4-3

Best Win: Colorado State

Worst Loss: Montana State

Best Loss: Stanford

Who knows what it is, but Montana State just seems to have the Buffs number, no matter the game.  Jeff Bzdelik is probably a pretty good coach, but after losing Richard Roby he's going to have a tough road this season.  Battling the basketball apathy that is Boulder doesn't help, either.