For the second year in a row, the Big 12 Conference looks to be the class of college basketball. Though their showing in last season's tournament wasn't great, the body of work that the conference put together was the best in the nation.
This year appears to be the same story. Fifty percent of the league's squads are currently in the AP top 25, and the top two teams according to KenPom are from the Big 12. With conference play right around the corner, every team is at least three games over .500, and half the teams have 1 or 0 losses.
Kansas has owned the league forever, but we start the rankings this year with a different team at the top. Let's get to it.
1. Oklahoma Sooners, 11-0
The Sooners have all the makings of a final four team. They are top 15 nationally in both adjusted offensive and defense efficiency (per KenPom), they have experience, and they have a player of the year candidate in Buddy Hield. They also have one of the most impressive wins of the season, pounding Villanova by 23. They survived a scare from a surprisingly good Hawaii team last week, and kick off conference play with a great matchup with Iowa State.
Last week: Won vs. Washington State (88-60), Won @ Hawaii (84-81 OT), Won vs. Harvard (83-71)
This week: Vs. #11 Iowa State (1/2)
2. Kansas Jayhawks, 10-1
The Jayhawks' only defeat was at the hands of the #1 team in the nation. Their frontcourt is absolutely stacked with 4 bigs that could start on just about any team in the country. They are shooting the lights out from three this season, with a 45.4% mark that ranks third in the country. They easily took care of San Diego State on Tuesday, led by 20 points from 38 year old Perry Ellis.
Last week: Won @ San Diego State (70-57)
This week: Vs. UC Irvine (12/29), Vs. #23 Baylor (1/2)
3. West Virginia Mountaineers, 10-1
West Virginia lost by 16 to their only legitimate opponent this season, but their first half against Virginia showed that when things are clicking, they can beat anyone. For the Mountaineers to contend for the conference championship, Esa Ahmad is going to have to start producing more on the offensive end. The highly touted freshman is averaging just over 5 points per game in 20.7 minutes.
Side note: Jonathan Holton is first in the NATION in offensive rebounding percentage, pulling down 23% of the team's misses when he's on the floor.
Last week: Won vs. Eastern Kentucky (84-59)
This week: @ Virginia Tech (12/30), @ Kansas State (1/2)
4. Iowa State Cyclones, 10-1
The Cyclones are without reliable guard Naz Mitrou-Long for the season after lingering issues from hip surgery he had in the offseason. They're still a contender for the conference title though, and already have quality wins over Iowa and Cincinnati.
Last week: Won @ #22 Cincinnati (81-79)
This week: Vs. Coppin State (12/30), @ #3 Oklahoma (1/2)
5. Texas Longhorns, 8-3
Shaka Smart has taken over in Texas, and although they have three losses, they also have a hugely impressive win over #7 North Carolina. The offense this season has ran mostly through Isaiah Taylor and Cameron Ridley, the team's top 2 scorers.
One thing to watch when the Longhorns match up with West Virginia later in the season: Texas is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country (337 out of 351 teams) and are making only 61.1% of their attempts at the line.
Last week: No games last week.
This week: Vs. UCONN (12/29), @ Texas Tech (1/2)
6. Baylor Bears, 9-2
Baylor currently has four players averaging double-figures, led by senior Taurean Prince at 16.4 PPG. Prince had 34 in their win on Wednesday against New Mexico State. Rico Gathers is still wreaking havoc, ranking 3rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.
Last week: Won vs. New Mexico State (85-70)
This week: Vs. Texas Southern (12/29), @ #2 Kansas (1/2)
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders, 9-1
It's a pretty deep league when the 7th best team is 9-1. Texas Tech has been winning with their defense, with an adjusted defensive efficiency that ranks in the top 25 in the country, per KenPom. Devaugntah Williams leads the team so far with 14.2 PPG.
Last week: Won vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (65-53)
This week: Vs. Richmond (12/29), Vs. Texas (1/2)
8. Kansas State Wildcats, 9-2
K-State had an opportunity for a huge win earlier in the season, leading North Carolina at halftime before falling by 10. Justin Edwards and Wesley Iwundu tie for the team high in points per game at 13.3.
Last week: Won vs. North Dakota State (63-49)
This week: Vs. Saint Louis (12/29), Vs. #19 West Virginia (1/2)
9. Oklahoma State Cowboys, 7-4
The Cowboys have had some trouble adjusting to life without Le'Bryan Nash, and losing Phil Forte to injury in November (with no timetable to return) didn't make things any easier. Oklahoma State already has losses to George Mason, Tulsa, Missouri State, and Florida.
Last week: No games last week.
This week: Vs. UMKC (12/29), Vs. TCU (1/2)
10. TCU Horned Frogs, 7-4
TCU is again at the bottom of the conference, but Trent Johnson did have a nice pickup this offseason in transfer Vladimir Brodziansky from Pratt Community College in Kansas. Brodziansky currently leads the team with 14.5 PPG.
Last week: Won @ Bradley (53-49)
This week: Vs. Delaware State (12/29), @ Oklahoma State (1/2)