After about two months of college basketball, each conference within the Power Five is starting to claim its own identity in the league. Each conference has its commercial powerhouse team, as well as its doormat used by every other team for easy wins. What separates the Big 12 from the other four is its depth.
Going into the conference’s headliner matchup on Saturday between No. 17 Iowa State and No. 14 West Virginia, six of the conference’s 10 teams were in the AP Top 25.
Prior to the release of the updated rankings yesterday, Texas was No. 10, Kansas was No. 12, West Virginia was No. 14, Oklahoma was No. 16, Iowa State was No. 17 and Baylor was No. 21.
Of the conference’s unranked teams, there has still been a great deal of success. Even though TCU is 0-3 conference play after its loss to then-No. 21 Baylor, the Horned Frogs made an appearance in the Top 25 after a season in which they went 0-18 in the Big 12 last year. Granted they didn’t play anyone that would be making a run for the title at any point in the next 20 years, but wins are wins and a 13-0 start is a good one no matter who’s sharing the floor.
While teams like Texas Tech and Kansas State have struggled at times thus far, they’ve also shown they can compete when they show up ready to play. Regardless of the struggles each squad has endured, the 10-6 Red Raiders and the 9-7 Wildcats look pretty tough for two teams at the bottom of a heavyweight conference.
Oklahoma State will likely also find a spot in the Top 25 after its 69-68 victory over then-No. 10 Texas, a game in which the Cowboys let the rest of the conference know they also belong in the mix.
Kansas and Iowa State appear to be the front runners right now, as neither squad has suffered a loss in conference play despite a handful of nail-biters.
While both of these teams look like they could take the conference title in Kansas City in March, don’t look past the middle of the conference. While they haven’t been touched in the conference at this point, it has been clear that other teams are going to give them a fight, such as when Baylor took the Jayhawks all the way down the wire last week. But, that’s where the Big 12 differs from everyone else. There is no untouchable team, and there are no easy wins. Every team is a contender.