February 1, 2008

Fritch's Big 12 Tour: Moving on up

What does a few shakeups in the Big 12 mean? A few changes in the power rankings, of course. A loss by previously undefeated No. 2 Kansas coupled by a dominant win by No. 23 Texas A&M against No. 10 Texas on Wednesday exemplifies what the league coaches preach every week: This conference is good. Could there be a new No. 1 on the board this week? D. Scott Fritchen reveals his rankings heading into Saturday's games.

Big 12 Power Rankings > > >

A look at the Big 12 teams heading into Saturday.





Kansas State
(15-4, 5-0)
Streak: Won 6

No, these power rankings aren't based on national rankings. Nobody looked more powerful than Kansas State on Wednesday night. A sign in Bramlage Coliseum read, "WE PLAY FOR KEEPS" and No. 22 K-State keeps getting attention -- this time with a milestone win at home against No. 2 Kansas. The streak? No more. Suddenly, these Wildcats are atop the standings in the Big 12 and own the longest winning streak (six games) in the league. After going winless against eight Top 10 opponents in the previous three years, the Wildcats beat two in 11 days. No player in America is playing better than Michael Beasley. No coach in the Big 12 has impressed more than Frank Martin in his first year.

Coming up: at Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech, Missouri, at Nebraska


(20-1, 5-1)
Streak: Lost 1

Knocked from the unbeaten, the No. 2 Jayhawks should take their aggressions out at Colorado. Their 3-point defense took a beating from the Wildcats' perimeter (12 of 26 for 46.2 percent) but shouldn't be a problem as the Buffaloes have hit just 35.3-percent from behind the arc in six league games. Brandon Rush remains steady from the outside (20-for-37) and Mario Chalmers led with 19 points against K-State. He scored as many points as Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson combined. They're still one of the nation's best teams, but getting outplayed by No. 22 K-State knocks them down a notch this week.

Coming up: at Colorado, Missouri, Baylor, at Texas, Colorado, at Oklahoma State


(16-3, 4-1)
Streak: Lost 1

A week removed from a 77-71 loss at home to Oklahoma, the 25th-ranked Bears face a big one at No. 10 Texas, where they have lost 20 straight. In need of a rebound, Baylor will likely rely on steady Kevin Rogers, who has three straight double-doubles and has connected on 24 of 28 free throws in his last six games. No free meals in the league: Baylor plays four of its next six on the road. We'll learn a lot about the Bears as a date at Allen Fieldhouse won't be kind in the midst of the most challenging stretch of the season.

Coming up: at Texas, Texas Tech, at Kansas, at Oklahoma State, Texas, at Oklahoma


Texas A&M
(17-4, 3-3)
Streak: Won 2

You knew the talented No. 23 Aggies wouldn't be down for long. A rugged win at Oklahoma State culminated with an 80-63 blowout of No. 10 Texas puts them squarely back into the mix. Texas A&M has beaten 10 ranked teams in the last four years, including four against Top 10 powers, but thumping the Longhorns was as big as they come in regaining some fire. Oklahoma will provide a test, but behind Josh Carter and his two double-doubles in the last three outings, things seem to be getting back on track.

Coming up: Oklahoma, at Iowa State, at Missouri, Oklahoma State, at Texas, Nebraska


(16-4, 3-2)
Streak: Lost 1

Demolishing Texas Tech by 26 at home? Good. Losing by 17 at No. 23 Texas A&M? Bad. How bad? We'll see. The schedule in the upcoming stretch isn't doing the Longhorns any favors, especially the last three contests listed below, which could help reveal whether they contend for their projected No. 2 finish in the league. Fortunately, D.J. Augustin continues to bring it every night. His seven 20-point performances in the last 11 games show why the sophomore is one of the best players in the league. The question: Can his teammates shoulder their part of the load the rest of the way?

Coming up: Baylor, at Oklahoma, at Iowa State, Kansas, at Baylor, Texas A&M


(15-5, 3-2)
Streak: Won 3

Since returning from a left knee injury, Blake Griffin has just picked up where he left off in averaging 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games. Griffin's shooting touch (52.4 percent) also remains intact. The Sooners have won their last three by 3.6 points with a big win at No. 25 Baylor. Facing No. 23 Texas A&M on the road and then No. 10 Texas at home is as tough as it comes in the South, though. Wins over both would propel this promising team into the upper half of the league.

Coming up: at Texas A&M, Texas, at Colorado, Iowa State, at Texas Tech, Baylor


Iowa State
(13-8, 3-3)
Streak: Won 1

With Wesley Johnson questionable - he left Colorado with a sprained ankle after missing the first four games of the season with an ankle sprain - the Cyclones, too, could be ailing. A loss at Nebraska would cripple Iowa State's tough road ahead.

Coming up: at Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas, at Oklahoma, Nebraska, at Texas Tech


Texas Tech
(11-8, 2-3)
Streak: Lost 1

Wanna see an irate Bobby Knight? Lose by 26 at Texas. The Red Raiders didn't play during the week but there's no telling where this team is headed. They have yet to win back-to-back Big 12 games despite some sizzling efforts from Martin Zeno[db], who averaged 20.1 points with 23 assists and 10 steals in January. A rebound game against ice-cold Oklahoma State makes no guarantees Texas Tech will earn consecutive league wins anytime soon.

Coming up: Oklahoma State, at Baylor, at Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma, at Colorado


(12-9, 2-4)
Streak: Lost 1

It appears suspended seniors [db]Jason Horton, Marshall Brown and Darryl Butterfield, and junior Leo Lyons will be back for No. 22 Kansas State. But Stefhon Hannah won't return soon. Losing to Nebraska 66-62 without five players isn't bad. Except it was at home and the Tigers could lose their next two home games as well while a loss at No. 2 Kansa would mark their fifth loss in six road outings.

Coming up: Kansas State, at Kansas, Texas A&M, at Nebraska, at Kansas State, Colorado


(12-6, 1-4)
Streak: Won 1

Finally Nebraska got on the board. It took four losses before the Huskers earned their first league win - just don't tell anyone it was against a Missouri team with only six scholarship players. Aleks Maric rebounded well after going scoreless at No. 2 Kansas. He had 13 points and 13 boards against the Tigers. This team still has a ways to go, though.

Coming up: Iowa State, at Kansas State, Texas Tech, Missouri, at Iowa State, Kansas State


(9-11, 1-5)
Streak: Lost 4

Richard Roby is averaging 19.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in his last 11 games, but the Buffaloes haven't beaten No. 2 Kansas in five years - and never in Allen Fieldhouse since the start of the Big 12. The climb remains steep for Colorado, which will seek its first league road win at Oklahoma State.

Coming up: Kansas, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, at Kansas, Texas Tech, at Missouri


Oklahoma State
(10-10, 1-5)
Streak: Lost 5

What's worse than losing four straight (see Colorado)? Losing five in a row if you're Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were a perfect 17-for-17 on free throws against Oklahoma, becoming the first Big 12 team to go perfect from the line during a league game this season. Too bad Oklahoma State still lost. Obi Muonelo was a highlight against Oklahoma with a career-high 25 points for his third career 20-point performance. However, the sliding Cowboys are plummeting quickly and it might only get worse.

Coming up: at Texas Tech, Colorado, at Kansas State, Baylor, at Texas A&M, Kansas

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!