I’m running a bit late this week, but there was a lot that happened. There are four more games this weekend, including possibly the most meaningless game in Big 12 history. Seriously, can anyone remember a game with less relevance than a March matchup between Iowa State and Kansas State?
Meanwhile, it’s as clear as ever that there’s a huge gap between the top 7 and bottom 3 teams in the league, despite the Sooners’ best efforts to make their way towards that bottom group over the past 10 days. I’m not entirely sure TCU, Iowa State and K-State even deserve to go to Kansas City, while the other 7 teams should be wearing white in their first NCAA games.
1. No. 2 Baylor (20-1, 12-1)
Baylor is officially back. After a stumble against Kansas, the Bears needed overtime but completed their season sweep of West Virginia. Then they cruised past Oklahoma State, showing off some impressive depth and versatility along the way. Clearly, this is a No. 1 seed, but it’s equally clear they don’t have the same top talent as Gonzaga’s starting lineup. Could Baylor win a seven-game series against the Zags? I doubt it. Could they beat them in a national championship game? Absolutely.
NEXT UP: Sunday vs. Texas Tech
2. No. 6 West Virginia (18-7, 11-5)
West Virginia had the rare week in which they actually lost a game but probably improved their stock. That’s because the Mountaineers nearly knocked off Baylor in a phenomenal basketball game in between easy, expected wins against TCU and Kansas State. The guard play of Miles McBride and Sean McNeil combined with the inside dominance of Derek Culver will be a tough out for anyone this March. Let’s not forget West Virginia is the only team to get within single digits of Gonzaga all season. Expect the Mountaineers to get at least a 3 seed.
NEXT UP: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State
3. No. 13 Kansas (19-8, 12-6)
I must reluctantly give Kansas credit for handing Baylor its first defeat, even if the Bears were perhaps still a little rusty. The Jayhawks still mostly dominated, which made it all the more puzzling when they nearly lost to UTEP Thursday night. Alas, Marcus Garrett picked up his team’s intensity on the defensive end and they did just enough. Look for KU to get a 3 or 4 seed on Selection Sunday.
NEXT UP: Big 12 quarterfinals next Thursday
4. Oklahoma State (17-7, 10-7)
No, the Cowboys couldn’t keep up with Baylor, but they pulled off an impressive season sweep of Oklahoma in just three days. This is still one of the best-looking teams in the league right now, especially after Cade Cunningham showed he can take over a game with 40 points in Norman. Oklahoma State’s matchup with West Virginia Saturday should be fascinating, and OSU would legitimately be in the discussion for a 1 seed if it had only avoided those two losses to TCU. Instead, the Cowboys are probably looking at a 4 or 5 seed depending on how they fare over the next 8 days.
NEXT UP: Saturday at West Virginia
5. No. 15 Texas (16-7, 10-6)
Texas recovered nicely from a tough loss to Texas Tech, knocking off first Iowa State and then Oklahoma. The Longhorns have some great athletes, but do they really have what it takes to reach the second weekend, let alone further? I’m not so sure. At the moment they’re probably looking at a 4 or 5 seed. We’ll see what happens.
NEXT UP: Sunday at TCU
6. No. 15 Texas Tech (17-8, 9-7)
The Red Raiders relied on their elite defense to knock off Texas and then took care of business with blowouts of TCU and Iowa State. Is that enough to get Texas Tech ready for another deep postseason run? I’m skeptical. But I’ve also learned it’s foolish to underestimate Chris Beard. Tech’s probably headed for a 4 or 5 seed as well, unless they can pull a stunner in Waco tomorrow.
NEXT UP: Sunday at Baylor
7. No. 16 Oklahoma (14-6, 9-8)
The Oklahoma losing streak that started in Manhattan reached four games, but I don’t actually think the Sooners are in quite as much trouble as some people say they are. After all, they took Oklahoma State to overtime and then only lost by 4 in the second game against the Cowboys and against Texas. Sure, Lon Kruger needs Austin Reaves to start shooting well again, but don’t count the Sooners out just yet. Their resume and especially that season sweep of West Virginia is probably still good enough to get at least a 6 seed and it could get better if they can win a couple games in KC.
NEXT UP: Big 12 tournament first round Wednesday or quarterfinals Thursday
8. Kansas State (7-19, 3-14)
Kansas State’s winning streak ended as the Wildcats played more dismal offense against West Virginia. On the plus side, the Cats could pick up two more wins against Iowa State and TCU before....well, we don’t need to talk about what happens after that.
UP NEXT: Saturday vs. Iowa State
9. TCU (12-12, 5-10)
TCU will always have its season sweep of Oklahoma State, but wow the Horned Frogs have looked bad lately. They’ve lost 5 of 6 now and really looked like they might lose to Iowa State for a while last Saturday. Fortunately for them, the Cyclones are very good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Perhaps TCU can put together one more impressive performance for seniors Chuck O’Bannon and Owen Aschieris’ against Texas, but I kind of doubt it.
NEXT UP: Sunday vs. Texas
100. Iowa State (2-20, 0-17)
It’s becoming more and more difficult to put into words how bad this season has been for Iowa State. I can’t see Steve Prohm surviving, even if the Cyclones take advantage of more cold shooting from Kansas State and pull off an upset on Saturday. It’s going to be really tough for ISU fans when they can’t even pack the bars to drink away their sorrows in Kansas City.
NEXT UP: Saturday at Kansas State