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Big 12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings Week 4: Commentary Receives A Technical Foul

The top three remain unchanged, shuffles in the middle, and oh hey Bubble Watch is Back.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Texas Tech
Jan 29, 2020; Lubbock, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins in the first half during the game agains the Texas Tech Red Raiders at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I got nothing. No really. Anything I have to say about the loss to Tech will just be some incoherent rambling about Big XII officiating.

To be fair, it’s not just the Big XII — though the Big XII’s officiating is extremely terrible — it’s a problem endemic to college basketball. Every offseason, without fail, there is a period of discourse wherein Very Smart People will discuss why there is such a huge disconnect between the viewership of the NCAA Tournament and the regular season. Sometimes they make good points: the early season games compete against college and NFL; there’s a lot of games.

There is, however, another strain of criticism: that the product just kind of sucks. Normally this particular version says the game is bad because too many players are bouncing to the NBA or something something three point line and shot clock. (Disclaimer: I haven’t been able to watch an entire NBA game in one sitting in like 10 years.)

I don’t think that’s really true. I think the problem is that collegiate officiating sucks the life out of so many games that it’s not even funny. Officials have a tough job, don’t get me wrong. And outside of playing at Kansas, I don’t think they honestly try to screw people over. *BUT* the rules of the current game make their job more difficult.

The current rule book basically puts the officials in a position of adjudicating the flow of the game by fiat, which is bad. What’s worse is that you’ve got a bunch of old dudes (average age of NCAA basketball officials was 53 in 2017) officiating 4-6 games a week (we won’t let 20-year old college kids play more than 3) and traveling all over the country to do so. No wonder they make shitty judgement calls.

What makes the Big XII particularly bad though, is we don’t have a set of officials who are dedicated to the conference.

That, of course, does not explain Doug Sirmon, who has officiated a number of WVU games this season and absolutely friggen knows better.

Oops. I just got a technical, so we’ll move on to Power Rankings and our first Bubble Watch.

Big XII Power Rankings Week 4

  1. Baylor Bears, 18-1 The Bears took care of business and look to continue their march towards a number 1 overall seed.
  2. Kansas Jayhawks, 17-3 Not much to see here. Even without a few players following their suspension, Kansas continues to cruise. This weekend features home games against Tech and Texas, both of which are coming off big wins.
  3. West Virginia Mountaineers, 16-4 WVU hasn’t lost two in a row all season and should have revenge on their minds when Kansas State comes to Morgantown.
  4. Texas Tech Red Raiders, 12-7
  5. Texas Longhorns, 13-7
  6. TCU Horned Frogs, 13-7
  7. Oklahoma Sooners, 13-7
  8. Iowa State Cyclones, 9-11
  9. Kansas State Wildcats, 9-11
  10. Oklahoma State Cowboys, 10-10

Bubble Watch January Edition:

The Selection Committee no longer uses RPI, so we’ll be using their NET rankings this season.

  • Locks: Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia
  • Should be In:
  • Work Left To Do:
  1. Texas Tech (NET Ranking: 28; SOS: 48): Tech desperately needed Wednesday’s victory over WVU to help a resume that is lacking in quality wins outside of the Louisville’s win. Their SOS is a real drag, but wins against Louisville and WVU set them apart from the other bubble contenders. A win against Kansas would move them into “Should Be In.”
  2. Oklahoma (NET Ranking: 50; SOS: 11): On numbers alone, Oklahoma has the best “total” resume of the four teams in contention for a bubble spot, which is why they’re rated higher here than in power rankings. The Sooners had the second toughest non-conference schedule (behind Kansas) but still need a signature win to feel remotely safe. They also have two bad conference loses against Iowa State and Kansas State hanging around their necks.
  3. Texas (NET Ranking: 63; SOS: 33): Texas got a much needed win against TCU to keep them in the bubble conversation, and will continue to pretend the 4 point win against Purdue back in November is important, but when you look past the the decent NET rankings and SOS, it’s hard to ignore the ugly loses to WVU and more importantly Providence. Shaka Smart’s future could easily depend on getting into the tournament at this point.
  4. TCU (NET Ranking: 64; SOS: 104): After finally getting a quality win against Texas Tech, TCU stumbled this week with a double digit loss to Arkansas and a close loss at home to Texas. Given the weak NET and three figure SOS, TCU desperately needs a big win, which good news — a road trip to Baylor is on the menu.
  • OUT: Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State

WVU Weekly Awards

  • MVP Miles McBride Deuce remains the only guy on the team who can consistently make his own shot. If this team is going to go deep into March, they will need him to continue.
  • Hustle Award Gabe Osabouhein Gabe just works harder than any guy on the floor and is being rewarded with play time.
  • Most Improved Player Jermain Haley For the first time since November Haley has been in double figures for three straight games. I said last week that WVU desperately needed Haley (and Matthews) to find their scoring touch again, and at lest one of them looks like he has.