MORGANTOWN, W.Va. —  Now that the nation’s attention finally has turned away from the Heart of Dallas Bowl, league play is set to begin in college basketball, and it’s the Big 12 sporting the top conference RPI.

How’s that possible? Well, Kansas restocked with freshman phenoms, Oklahoma State has out-Smarted almost everyone and Baylor portends to be more than a football school. Then there’s Iowa State, which still hasn’t lot since the refs allowed Aaron Craft to make a mockery of the block/charge call last March.

All in all, first-semester Big 12 basketball was far better than anticipated. And with conference play starting Saturday, here’s a look back:

No. 2 Kansas (9-3)
No. 6 Iowa State (12-0)
No. 10 Baylor (9-1)
No. 14 Oklahoma State (12-1)
No. 32 Texas (11-2)
No. 43 Oklahoma (11-2)
No. 84 Kansas State (10-3)
No. 118 West Virginia (8-5)
No. 150 Texas Tech (8-5)
No. 153 Texas Christian (8-3)

Baylor vs. Kentucky 67-62: At Jerry World, the Bears rallied from nine points down in the final 13 minutes against then-No. 3 Kentucky: Said Baylor center Cory Jefferson: ”It wasn’t no hype to us. We’re a great program just like they were a great program.”

Kansas vs. Duke 94-83: At the Champions Classic in Chicago, Andrew Wiggins enjoyed a strong debut to what figures to be his only college season, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half.

Oklahoma State vs. Memphis: 101-80: OSU rolled in Stillwater behind Marcus Smart’s 39 points, leading Memphis coach Josh Pastner to assess: “When (Smart) scores like that, he could be the best player in college basketball.” Memphis, currently No. 17 in the RPI, took revenge 73-68 when the teams met two weeks later in Orlando.

Texas at North Carolina 86-83: The Tar Heels (now 33rd in the RPI) had beaten Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State but couldn’t handle the Rick Barnes Boys. The upset in Chapel Hill instantly vaulted Texas into NCAA contention.

Kansas State vs. Gonzaga, 72-62: Yes, the Bulldogs played with Sam Dower (back injury) in the second half, but give the Wildcats credit for holding Gonzaga (No. 16 RPI) to 21 points below its season scoring average.

Virginia Tech vs. WVU, 87-82:  West Virginia built a 17-point first-half lead and then blew it … against a Hokies team that currently sits 159th in the RPI.

Northern Colorado at Kansas State, 60-58: The Bears landed a blow for the Big Sky by knocking off the defending Big 12 champs. Northern Colorado now owns an RPI of 168.

Longwood at TCU, 82-79: The Lancers sank the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left. For Longwood, ranked 305th in the RPI, it remains the only win against a D-I foe this year.

Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma, 102-98: On Monday night the Sooners had six players in double figures, but lost in overtime, snapping a seven-game win streak.

Michael Cobbins tears Achilles: The Oklahoma State forward had started all 13 games before Monday’s season-ending injury. Though his 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game look easily replaceable, Cobbins provided interior toughness and defense to the Cowboys’ loaded backcourt. His absence could cost OSU a shot at the league title and an NCAA No. 1 seed.

NCAAs (with seeding): Oklahoma State (2), Kansas (2), Iowa State (4), Baylor (4) and Texas (10).

NIT: Oklahoma and Kansas State

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  • madhatter

    i may be jumping the gun a bit, but imo, these two games coming up, will decide wvu basketball for this season.
    One think for sure, we're not rebounders, and it seems our whole team can go cold at once.
    On the other hand , we do have some shooters if they can score big pts. we could finish near the .500 mark in the big 12

  • USN

    This team is improved and is young. They will lose games yes. But they will get better each game.

    By the end of the year no one is going to want to play them. A lot of hostility for no reason.

  • leroy j gibbs

    Based on our nonconference play Allan is spot on .I hope he ends up wrong but reality bites

  • WV Grad

    Allan's a top-notch writer and tells it the way it is, like it or not.

    • Hop'sHip

      He's still not going to get you that media pass for the Oklahoma State game.

  • rekterx

    You ... Have "YOU" seen the B12's RPI ratings?

  • rekterx

    For WVU to play .500 ball in the B12 will be a minor miracle.

    I have no problem at all with what Allan wrote. Don't take my "swipe" at Allan as anythng more than good natured ribbing.

    This year's conference schedule may be the toughest that WVU has ever played. Period. Exclamation Point!

    We play EVERYBODY twice. Have seen the B12's RPI ratings?

  • Rich

    WVU needs some upsets just to qualify for a NIT bid. WVU will have to sweep TT & TCU (no small feat for this group). UT, OK, KSt are must win games @ home. That gets WVU to 7 wins in Big 12. They need at least 2 more to ensure winning record and NIT bid. Can they go on road and upset UT, OK, KSt? I like their chances of gettig 2/3 there as oppossed to beating KU, OK St, Baylor, Iowa St. Could we possibly upset Iowa St at home?

  • Hop'sHip

    Cmon Mr. Alabama. Couldn't you at least pick WVU for the CIT? I think any team with five breathing players qualifies for that. Give us some hope!

  • Master of One

    Very good assessment at the end.

    It is what it is. Whether or not you are willing to accept it, this basketball program under Bob Huggins has fallen into the Abyss.

    And No...there will be no NCAA bid this year...

    And No...there will be no NIT bit this year.

    It will take 18-20 wins to get an NIT bid and WVU is simply not going to win 18-20 games this season.

    The Bob Huggins Trolls understand this. However the sympathizers do not understand and never will understand.

    Look for WVU to win 15 games and then like the rest of us, watch the tournaments on TV.

    • Will

      16 wins will probably get an NIT. They take nearly any power conference team with a winning record. WVU is 8-5 now. If they were to go 8-10 in Big12 play, that would put them at 16-15 going into the Big12 Tournament. Even with a 16-16 record if they lose in the first round, I think they would be in the NIT. 9-9 in Big12 play would be more assured of NIT. Not that I think NIT should be acceptable, nor am I saying they will get 8 or 9 wins, I'm just saying I don't think they need to win 18-20 just to get in the NIT.

      • Master of One

        Just wait and see...13 wins last season never put them think 3 more is going to make a difference with NO non-conference signature wins?

  • pghmountaineer

    Allan, I agree with your assessment. I think you're right on. It is what it is. We have a long way to go before we improve.
    The bar over the last couple of sesaons has been set so low, we can only go up from there.

  • Old Coach

    WVU, Will need to win 12 games in the Big 12 to make it to the big dance .... That will not be easy, but for the NIT maybe 8 games ... Iam hoping for at least 12 wins .... At the present time the big 12 is the best league it won't be easy but they can do it....

    • madhatter

      i find it hard to believe that anyone would expect 12 conf would be more likely that we get 12 wins total

      • Old Coach

        @madhatter go back up and look at my post or maybe you can't comprehend what you read.. I wasn't making predictions I was making a statement that possibly that's what it would take to be in the tournaments comprehended ??It would nice if WVU could win that many games...

  • squad

    yeah I agree with the last dude. I think we should earmark this article. coach should post it on the board in the locker. that our own media essentially takes as dire of a lookout as you can. sure we could have half the team walk off and finish poorly but everyone knows this will passed off as "realistic"..i have a new term how bout whipped-billy pessi-realistic??

    I hope anyone on the team is reading this-print it and put it up on the lockers...he says 8th....

    and a losing record obviously.....

    I like that he COULD have done this article and completely left the last part out..but after last year, looking at what we are like and the competition, our report felt the need to additionally predict, essentially, failure this year...

    hey where do we rate your articles or your obliviousness to be able to even disguise your "mission". what is most funny is that you think people don't see.. 8th.... and a losing where I can get more of this realism???

    ...and at the end of the what if you're right..can we then give you some credit? would say so, ass....

  • Old Coach

    There is an old saying when I was a kid ( set milk out in a glass and the cream will come to the top ) there is a lot and anti-WVU people on the web and in the media then you realize... ( And there is an other old saying lump it or like it ) not much a person can do when the media has all of the control..

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Look for us (WVU) to finish strong.

  • rekterx

    Allan ... you didn't have to go out of your way and write that whole piece in order to indirectly tell us that you believe the Mountaineers will not even be an NIT team.