Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder hits the game-winning 3-pointer over Baylor’s Gary Franklin on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

With three teams in contention for the Big 12 title and five teams in good standing for NCAA bids, let’s jump into the league power rankings:

1. Kansas (25-4, 13-3)
RPI: No. 4
By winning six straight games, the Jayhawks have resurfaced as a potential NCAA No. 1 seed, and at 9-3 against the RPI top 50, they’re deserving of top-line consideration.

KU’s hopes of wrapping up a ninth straight Big 12 championship likely boil down to Saturday’s game at Baylor, but first comes Big Monday’s matchup against Texas Tech on Senior Night. The Jayhawks will recognize the accomplishments of Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson and Kevin Young.

“These guys have paid their dues,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “You’re talking about four guys who are all two-year starters, and they’ve been contributors, but they’ve never been ‘the guy.’ None of them have scored 1,000 points in their career … but they’ve kept great attitudes and saw the big picture, and I think this will be a special group that I’ll remember forever.”
 
2. Kansas State (24-5, 13-3)
RPI: No. 18
Rodney McGruder’s buzzer-beating 3 at Baylor — off an inbounds pass with 1 second left — kept the Wildcats tied with Kansas for the conference lead. Bruce Weber’s team seems likely to land as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, though it could climb into a No. 2 by winning at Oklahoma State this weekend and reaching the finals of the Big 12 tournament.

“Anybody on our team can step up and make a play, but if you ask me which guy would you want to give the ball to in that situation I would say Rodney,” said point guard Angel Rodriguez, who triggered the inbounds pass to McGruder. “He has been here the longest. He is our go-to guy.”

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart is a candidate for Big 12 player of the year.

3. Oklahoma State (22-6, 12-4)
RPI: No. 26
The Cowboys, safely in the NCAAs as an at-large team, still have a chance to tie for the Big 12 regular-season title if they can win at Iowa State on Wednesday and beat K-State in Saturday’s home finale.

As the conference player of the year race winds down, Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart remains a top candidate. “I don’t know if anyone impacts as much as he does when you look at rebounding, assists, defense, diving after loose balls,” coach Travis Ford said. “He just affects the game, not just better than any player in our league, but better than any player I’ve ever seen.”

4. Oklahoma (19-9, 10-6)
RPI: No. 22
The Sooners blew a 22-point lead in the final eight minutes of a loss at Texas but recovered to bury Iowa State 86-69 three days later (breaking an NCAA record with 34-of-34 shooting at the foul line). Ironically, OU found itself leading the Cyclones by 22 with about eight minutes left.

“A couple of the Iowa State players were reminding me on the free-throw line,” said OU forward Romero Osby, ho scored 22 points. “It was just something that we wanted to make sure we didn’t let happen again.”

Mock brackets have Oklahoma anywhere from a No. 7 to a No. 10 seed, so Lon Kruger’s should be dancing.

5. Iowa State (19-10, 9-7)
RPI: No. 53
Yes, the Cyclones were robbed in last Monday’s home loss to Kansas (the second time they should have beaten the Jayhawks this season), but they came out flat at Oklahoma and were manhandled. That leaves Iowa State on the NCAA bubble and needing wins over Oklahoma State on Wednesday and at West Virginia on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get ourselves right — it’s an important stretch,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.

6. Baylor (17-12, 8-8)
RPI: No. 60
For now the Bears aren’t deserving of being in the NCAA field. They’re 1-8 against the RPI top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100. Obviously, Baylor squandered a chance at a signature win with Saturday’s home heartbreaker agains K-State.

“That’s a tough game to get over, but 18- and 20-year-olds tend to get over things quicker than grownups do,” said coach Scott Drew, whose team likely needs to win at Texas Monday and upset Kansas on Saturday in Waco. “We have opportunities.”

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah Johnson and Kansas routed West Virginia 91-65 on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

7. West Virginia (13-16, 6-10)
RPI: No. 111
The Mountaineers must upset Oklahoma and Iowa State this week, then reach the semifinals of the conference tournament to avoid a losing record.

“We’re going to prepare as best as we can prepare,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “I think you’ve seen that we’re prepared when the game starts — I hunk we’ve started pretty well in every game here of late. Our problem comes when (opponents) do some different things and make adjustments. We don’t adjust when other people adjust.”

WVU led 16-9 at Kansas on Saturday before the Jayhawks got cranked up in what turned out to be a 91-65 romp. Kansas shot 56 percent, leading Huggins to say: “When they shoot the ball the way shot the ball, we don’t have a chance.”

8. Texas (13-16, 5-11)
RPI: No. 122
With wins over Baylor and Texas Tech, combined with WVU losses to Oklahoma and IowaState, the Longhorns could climb into seventh place in the Big 12 standings (thereby securing a league tournament opener against TCU).

Looking deeper into the postseason, Rick Barnes said a lesser tournament like the CBI could be appealing to a team like Texas. “I think you want to play all the games you can play,” he said. “If you love what you do, I can’t imagine not wanting to play games.”

9. Texas Tech (3-13, 10-17)
RPI: No. 221
Though never a factor in the NCAA at-large discussion, at least the Red Raiders kept themselves out of the Big 12 cellar. Texas Tech defeated TCU 72-63 for its first season sweep of a Big 12 opponent since 2010.

10. TCU (10-19, 1-15)
RPI: No. 236
Did the Frogs really beat Kansas? I mean, that actually happened, right? Outside of the KU stunner, none of TCU’s losses have come by fewer than nine points.

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Comments

  • rattle snake

    wow, lots can be said about this season. All the rumors about huggins and is drinking problems at just that. His buddy while he was at Kstate certainly didn't do his reputation any favors , that for sure, talking about all the drinking till the wee hours of the morning after home games, and huggie being the last one to call it a night, well, we knew he had problems when we hired him.. Has he improved... well i haven't heard of him falling down lately so maybe he's overcome his balance problems.
    anyway, i really don't care if he's a drunk as long as we win games, and we aren't doing that , are we?
    if you look at trends, it's pointing downward, but let's give him one more yr. and then we need a change if we don't improve... i think that's fair enough, and maybe that $10,000 a day salary should be donated to poor people's fund until he proves he has earned it at wvu...

  • Alum

    Just think, only two more games and then bball season is over. Then lil' larry, billy, and tommy can focus on smearing the baseball coach. Negative types are never satisified unless they have someone else in their sights to criticize.

  • polarbear

    Jethro you do understand that WVU is not a catholic school. They are going to be the catholic league for a reason.

    • jethro

      we can only pray lol

      • The Wisetalker

        At this point even "prayer" cannot help this train wreck. An old fashioned house cleaning starting with Oliver Luck all the way down to the equipment managers is in order. You cannot fix stupid. You have to replace it and then start all over.

  • Jethro

    It's the curse

  • bille

    we can only hope it will be different next season, what else can anyone really do any way except not buy tickets.

    i truely hope the coach does not have a drinking problem or has become complacent.

  • john

    Travel will effect recruiting? Really? Do the travel math for #1 Gonzaga who travels as many miles as we do. Why are they #1 having not only beat the crap out of us, but are 5-0 this year against the Big 12. The excuse of travel is only used because we are having a terrible season. Also the team travels by charter so they fly in and out of Clarksburg. If Huggins could recruit any kids with pro potential he would be doing them a favor by showing them a "little" glimpse of what life in the NBA would be.

  • Hank

    All this talk of Huggs screaming and cussing turning players off has obviously NOT seen Coach K at Duke. That man would make Huggs blush with the things he says...
    I think we can all agree that Coach K is well respected. So the Fbombs aren't the problem, the windbreaker isn't the problem, he'll the booze isn't even the problem. THIS TEAM is BAD. Period.
    Gale Catlett had 20 years of this crap before he left. Chill out everyone.

  • Bob

    Huggin's recruiters have let him down. Are new asistants in the future? Maybe people don't want to be cussed out for 4 years. The Honor Roll type of players [had 11 of 13 on the list one year] who JB attracted are not attracted to BH style.

  • jethro

    actually except for this year the other seasons records werent that bad for wv. who would want to come to this state and deal with all the travel.
    i think the travel will affect recruiting, also gpa's on the student athelete. should have stayed and joined the catholic schools for basketball

  • Larry

    The separation of powers shows WVU down near the bottom...why?

    The WVU Women’s basketball team drew 13,447 in their last home game against Baylor. In contrast, the WVU Men’s basketball team drew 6,588 in their last home game against Baylor.

    This shows just how far the program has fallen in the past four years under Bob Huggins. The women’s team drew twice as many fans as the men’s team. What on earth is going on up there in Morgantown?

    Everyone keeps saying “Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach so he is entitled to one (1) off season.” Let’s see if that is true…

    2009–2010 31– 7 Beilein’s recruits
    2010–2011 21–12 Huggin’s recruits
    2011–2012 19-14 Huggin’s recruits
    2012--2013 13-16 Huggin’s recruits

    How much farther will this downward spiral continue? I think that the “Free Passes” for Huggins inability to win are finally over. 3 straight years of Mediocrity is enough already!

    Will things improve next season? No. With a roster full of street players, only the two freshmen (Harris & Henderson) have shown any promise for the future. Are the new incoming freshman going to come in and save the day? No.

    WAKE UP!

    • TBone Porterhouse

      And to think that Huggins was so upset that his team was a pre-season pick for 6th place. The way things are shaping up, an 8th place finish seems more likely.
      Thank you Oliver Luck for the mediocrity you have brought to Morgantown, WV in football and basketball. No more ungodly fees, concession prices, season ticket package prices, or club level increases will be paid by me and my family. Oliver I have gotten your message, I will stay home from now on. I am not buying into what you are selling anymore. Your product in football and basketball is very mediocre and below standard. The coaches of these sports are mediocre at best. Huggins is a has-been and a never-was at WVU and Holgorsen is the definition of a never-was.

    • Jerf

      Sensor ship at its worst.

    • Jeff

      Reality check. WV fans are spoiled with what's happened the last few years. Fact is, it's back to reality. What blue chip player really wants to come to a nasty town like Morgantown? Huggins is a great coach, but I'm afraid his antics won't work anymore with this generation of non-disciplined, self first kids that he is able to recruit.

      • Hop'sHip

        Jeff: I am curious as to what makes Morgantown "a nasty town"

    • william

      Why would any WVU fan support JUMPSUIT HUGGINS? Tell me what he does on the court that he does well? Do you support Huggins because of the language he uses all the time, like yelling at the referee> F-YOU, F-YOU in front of kids and fans? Do you support the way he treats his players and screams at them with all types of lanuage? Or how he yanks his players in and out of games if they make one mistake? Do you support him for what he did at the NIKE CLINIC last year at Robert Morris?(goggle it to see what happened) Do you support the way this coach THROWS HIS PLAYERS UNDER THE BUS ALL THE TIME with his comments, also post game comments? Do you support him because of his PSU SWEATSUIT? WAKE UP WVU FANS! WVU FANS DESERVE BETTER!

      • shawn

        Yes I support Bob Huggins!

      • bille

        the nike clinic affair has been swept under the rug. i bet he makes a lot of money from nike to wear those silly jumpsuits.

        • Shawn

          Who cares what he wears? The only thing people can find wrong with him is a Nike pullover. HAHA give me a break people!

    • Shawn

      Its hard to predict the future.

      If you really don't like how things are going then why don't you submit some of your coaching tactics and techniques to Huggs. And yes...he is entitled to a bad season. Would he trade it for a 20 win season? You bet your A** he would. Its not like he started out the season thinking...."man i sure hope we lose 18 games this year because i'm entitled one bad year."

      All of us can sit on here and act like we know the ins and outs of College sports when we really don't know any more than what we see on TV and read about on the internet.

      Social Media grabs us and makes us think we could step right into a coaches shoes and take over. We need to get over ourselves and stand behind our team and root them through the good and bad.

      Am I happy about this year? No i'm not but i'll be right there til the end and come April 20th i'll be in Morgantown supporting our football team during the Blue Gold game.

      • william

        POLL QUESTION? Which coach was dressed very nice and looked professional? 1. Bill Self in a suit and tie. 2. BOB 'Sweatsuit HUGGINS' in a black and silver jumpsuit. What a embarrassment

      • Larry

        If you want to know what’s wrong, or if something is wrong, just look at the won/loss this year and then over the last three years, because its staring right back at you.