Kansas State went 2-0 last week. Do any of the other games really matter?
Well, I guess Texas did erase an 11-point halftime deficit to come back and beat Kansas. That was cool. It also helped me decide who deserves the No. 3 spot with so many teams losing.
Mostly, though, KANSAS STATE WENT 2-0.
1. No. 2 Baylor (18-0, 10-0)
Look who finally played a game! The Bears are very fortunate they got to come back from their long Covid hiatus against Iowa State, since they looked terrible early while falling behind by 17 (!) to the Cyclones. However, ISU is still bad, Mark Vital is still good, and Baylor survived. Then, the Bears caught another break when the Big 12 canceled their first game against West Virginia originally scheduled for tonight. Apparently when you’re the league’s best team you get special consideration so you don’t have to play too many games and risk suffering from fatigue. Must be nice.
NEXT UP: Saturday at Kansas
2. No. 10 West Virginia (16-6, 9-4)
Speaking of the Mountaineers, they moved into second place with a pair of wins at Texas and TCU. Normally I could tell you what West Virginia must do to clinch the No. 2 seed, but honestly, given all the postponements and different numbers of games for teams, I have no idea. West Virginia will finally get a chance to knock Baylor from its unbeaten perch next Tuesday in Morgantown, ideally with a chip on their shoulder after a shocking loss to Kansas State. I’ll be rooting for Huggy Bear and you should, too.
NEXT UP: Saturday vs. Kansas State.
3. No. 13 Texas (14-6, 8-5)
Yes, Texas is jumping up three spots this week, due in part to the strength of an impressive comeback win against Kansas to complete the season sweep. However, the Longhorns also got some help from the 3 teams above them (who combined for 4 losses) and the fact that they honestly should have beaten West Virginia last Saturday. But they blew a huge lead plus several late opportunities and the refs didn’t call an obvious foul at the buzzer, so Texas ended up with an L. Still, last week I said they needed to prove they were still good, and they did. Don’t sleep on this team in March.
NEXT UP: Saturday at Texas Tech
4. No. 17 Kansas (17-8, 11-6)
KU’s defense proved formidable enough to beat Texas Tech 67-61 last Saturday, but the Jayhawks’ continued offensive woes resulted in a 23-point second half and a choke job against Texas. Plus, Jalen Wilson hilariously dropped the ball out of bounds as he was looking up for a wide open layup to tie the game in the final seconds of overtime. I will give a sincere kudos to Kansas for being the only team set to complete its full 18-game conference schedule on Saturday. Their reward? A cupcake buy game next Tuesday against 10-10 UTEP, who hasn’t played since Feb. 13 due to its own Covid issues.
NEXT UP: Saturday vs. Baylor
5. Oklahoma State (15-6, 8-6)
Another big night from Cade Cunningham propelled Oklahoma State to an overtime win over Texas Tech, despite a very quiet return from injury for Isaac Likelele. It’s worth noting that Oklahoma State would be 17-4 overall and all alone in second place if not for two somewhat inexplicable losses to TCU that were decided by a total of four points. Of course, OSU has also benefited from postponements against OU, West Virginia and Baylor, so we’ll see what happens when the Cowboys have to actually play those games next week.
NEXT UP: Saturday at Oklahoma
6. No. 7 Oklahoma (14-6, 9-5)
You lose to Kansas State, you drop significantly in the power rankings. These are the rules. The Sooners didn’t exactly look impressive on Saturday, either, when they jumped out to a 30-9 lead only to let Iowa State come all the way back to go ahead briefly in the second half. Oklahoma’s got some issues to work out, and two straight Bedlam games followed by a matchup with Texas should tell us a lot about where the Sooners are heading into the postseason.
NEXT UP: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State.
7. No. 18 Texas Tech (14-8, 6-7)
I said two weeks ago that it felt like Texas Tech was overachieving again, and reality may have caught up to them this week. Consecutive losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State dropped the Red Raiders under .500 in league play and they haven’t won since beating KSU on February 6. Then again, maybe Tech just needs to regroup after three Covid-related postponements and they’ll be just fine by the time they get to Kansas City. Matchups with TCU and Iowa State next week should help.
NEXT UP: Saturday vs. Texas
8. Kansas State (7-18, 3-13)
Would I put Kansas State in this spot if I wasn’t wearing my purple-colored glasses? Who cares? You’re not reading this because you value neutrality in your power rankings. Either way, a vastly improved defense suddenly has the Wildcats thinking about even more wins, although I personally don’t see any reason for the Big 12 to schedule next Saturday’s game against Iowa State. But hey, maybe it will help Kansas State earn the right to wear white jerseys on Wednesday at the Sprint Center.
9. TCU (11-10, 4-8)
Take away those two aforementioned close wins against Oklahoma State and TCU’s only conference victories are against Iowa State and Kansas State, by a combined 10 points. That is not impressive. Maybe these power rankings are neutral after all. Saturday’s game in Ames looks very dangerous for a Horned Frogs team that has seen its star point guard, Mike Miles, hit a bit of a freshman wall while averaging just 10 points per game and shooting 29% from the field in his last 3 games.
NEXT UP: Saturday at Iowa State
100. Iowa State (2-17, 0-14)
Iowa State remains 27 spots ahead of Kansas State in the latest KenPom rankings, which seems kind of silly. Clearly, this is a case where the usually valuable emphasis on how well a team actually scores and defends throws things a bit out of whack, since K-State had some really, really bad lows and Iowa State keeps doing weird stuff like leading Oklahoma and Baylor in the second half. At some point, though, winning matters, and ISU’s been consistently not good enough. Perhaps that will change Saturday? If not, it’s conceivable this could be a completely broken team by the time it arrives in Manhattan on March 6 for its 4th game in 7 days.
NEXT UP: Saturday vs. TCU