Editor’s Note: This article has been updated. The original version incorrectly indicated that Kansas lost both games at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Really they lost one in a de facto home game in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. We apologize deeply for this mistake.
Hello and welcome to our first edition of the 2017-18 Big XII Power Rankings. Some house keeping: power rankings are subjective — feel free to complain in the comments, but they are what they are; rankings are based on where teams are now and what they’ve done so far, not where I think they’ll finish.
The non-conference portion of the season has been pretty good the for the Big XII with seven teams in the Top 25 as we hit the end of non-conference play. Though they went 8-8 vs AP Top 25 teams, they recorded big wins against Kentucky (Kansas), Wichita State (Oklahoma), Florida State (Oklahoma State) and Virginia (WVU).
This sets up for an exciting conference portion of the season, and while Kansas should always be your prohibitive favorite to win the regular season crown, back-to-back losses have shown this team is far from perfect.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (9-1) —After dropping their opener in Germany to a solid Texas A&M, the Mountaineers look to enter conference play on a 11-game win streak (Copin State may be worse than Wheeling Jesuit, and Fordham has won 4 games.) They’ve done all of that without one of their best players in Esa Ahmad who remains in NCAA limbo.
- Oklahoma Sooners (8-1) —You could absolutely make a case for the Sooners as the best team in the conference. Like WVU they did drop a game to an SEC opponent on a neutral court (Arkansas) and they have one of the best wins of anyone in the conference in Wichita State on the road. This is a WVU blog though, and I am going to be a huge homer and rank the Mountaineers above them. Still this is a very good Sooner club and Lon Kruger is one of the most underrated coaches in the country.
- Texas Christian University Hornfrogs (11-0)—People laughed when Jamie Dixon fled Pitt to Ft. Worth; I wasn’t among them. Dixon has turned the Hornfrogs from dormat to respectable in just two seasons at the helm. Last year they won the NIT, this year they’re gunning for the NCAA tournament and an 11-0 start has them in strong position.
- Kansas Jayhawks (9-2)— The Jayhawks always have the most talent of any team in the conference. That continues to be true, but to this point they have not shown they are the best team. Outside of a win over a young Kentucky team, they have under-performed losing back-to-back games versus an improved, but still middling Washington team and an Arizona State team that is definitely good but I am not sold they’re the third best team in the country. Is this the year someone else wins the conference?
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (9-1)—Like TCU, Tech should not be a surprise to anyone who watched them last season. They have quality wins over Boston College, Northwestern and Nevada with their only blemish coming to a solid Seton Hall.
- Oklahoma State (9-2)—I am going to be honest, this is one of the more surprising starts of any team this season, especially after a tumultuous off-season that saw Brad Underwood bolt for Illinois, a Tennessee-like coaching search that resulted in hiring an unproven assistant, and revelations that a former assistant was caught up in the FBI-probe of college basketball. Their two losses are to very good teams (Texas A&M, Wichita State) and the true-road win again previously unbeaten FSU ranks as one of the best of any team in the conference. I am skeptical this team is in it for the long-haul, but so far so good for the Cowboys.
- Baylor Bears (9-2)—I am really not clear why the Bears are ranked, let alone #18 in the latest poll. Their best win is against an overrated Creighton team. Outside of that? Not much else. They lost both games against then-top 25 teams (Wichita State and Xavier), and beat a down Wisconsin on a neutral court by 5. The rest of their wins have come against a buffet of RPI basement dwellers.
- Iowa State Cyclones (8-2)—The halcyon days of the Fred Hoiberg era are behind the ‘Clones, but after a rough start that included back-to-back losses to Missouri and Milwaukee, Steve Prohm has gotten this team back on track with wins over instate rivals Iowa and UNI, and a sneaky good win over Mountain West contender Boise State.
- Texas Longhorns (8-3)—Texas has to feel like they are close to being a top 25 team. The Longhorns took then #1 Duke to overtime (after blowing a lead late), played Gonzaga tough, and fell just short against a decent Michigan team. But in this league, coming close isn’t good enough and they need to find consistency on offense if they’re going to make a run at a tournament bid.
- Kansas State Wildcats (8-2)—There is nothing particularly impressive about the Wildcats resume; their best win is uh— squints—uh—squints harder—I guess a 3-7 Vanderbilt team? No really. I’ve heard people say WVU played an easy schedule. Let me know when our SOS is 307th. The Wildcats also have an ugly loss to middling Tulsa. I guess they can take some solace in playing Arizona State close?