Around the Big 12: Week 10 (Basketball)
The Big 12 has been holding up as one of the more competitive conferences in all of college basketball.
With six teams in the top-25 and an additional team receiving votes, the conference stands out to have multiple NCAA tournament teams. As it stands, those seven teams are currently favored to make the big dance in Indianapolis this year.
Starting with the top team in the undefeated Baylor Bears, it starts with guard Jared Butler, averaging 17. 1 of the teams 86.1 points per game. His on-court aura allows the offense to shoot lights out, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 42.6 percent from beyond the arc. The defense causes chaos for opposing guards to create shot opportunities.
No. 5 Texas has surprised teams this season as it has two conference losses, all thanks to the guard play for Shaka Smart’s team. Those two losses were in close games to two lower ranked opponents, but the ball movement the Longhorns utilized kicking it out from the paint is effective among the rest of the competition.
The No. 24 ranked Oklahoma Sooners got fans excited come tournament time after impressive wins over No. 9 Kansas, No. 5 Texas and No. 11 West Virginia. It starts and ends with guard Austin Reaves, who leads the team in three statistical categories: points, rebounds and assists. His production will determine the outcome for their games in the later months of the season.
Bob Huggins’ No. 11 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers have been making noise recently, specifically taking down the No. 10 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, 88-87. Ever since the team lost forward Oscar Tshiebwe to the transfer portal, they started to find themselves back as a blue blood with the help of star players like Miles McBride and Derek Culver, who both lead the team in five statistical categories.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have put themselves in the minds of the casual college basketball fan, all in part of freshman sensation Cade Cunningham. Cunningham has been contact traced, causing him to sit out indefinitely and team production has taken its toll. A close game against Baylor ended up spiraling out of control near the end of the game.
The No. 15 Kansas Jayhawks have been somewhat an outlier when it comes to the downfall of the blue bloods this season, but their production on the court has declined recently on their three-game skid. The starting five may produce an average of double-digit scoring all season, but the bench production is not helping Bill Self’s team take the Big 12 crown.
The No. 10 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders have relied on guard Mac McClung, the Georgetown transfer, leading the way for the team to cause some mayhem in the conference. Amid the two-game losing streak, their loses have been close throughout the entire length of the games, even in earlier defeats as well, which gives Final Four hopes to Lubbock once again.
TCU may be struggling to keep up with the rest of the conference, but the Horned Frogs’ overall record may keep them in the hunt for a spot in the tournament. A current bubble team according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the Horned Frogs need a boost to get a shot at March Madness and that may have to fall on the role players since guards RJ Nembhard and Mike Miles are carrying the scoring load for the team.
The Kansas State Wildcats have lost their last seven Big 12 matchups after defeating the Iowa State Hawkeyes. The team is struggling to score over 65 points per game, not preventing turnovers and having a rough time making defensive stops.
The Iowa State Hawkeyes trail the rest of the conference, as the team has yet to win a conference game. The Hawkeyes are trying to make a name for themselves, but the center position is lacking in Ames, which leads to struggles on both sides of the floor.
As teams gear up for the Big 12-SEC Challenge this weekend, the tournament contenders can take the next step towards securing a spot in Indianapolis. Afterwards, the battle for the title continues.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com.