With only one game remaining in the Big 12 regular season, a surprising amount of business remains unsettled.
We know that Kansas has clinched the regular-season conference title for the 15th time in the past 16 years, and that’s about it. There’s still a chance Baylor will clinch a share of its first conference crown in the past 69 years. And behind the Bears, there’s a massive jumble.
Since it’s our job to sort out that jumble, our final Big 12 Power Index of the season will come with a highly explanatory twist.
1. Kansas (27-3, 16-1) Last week: 1
The traditional center is becoming a dinosaur, but Udoka Azubuike is apparently one of those Jurassic Park dinos who is doing just fine in the modern age. He celebrated his senior night by dropping 31 on TCU.
2. Baylor (26-3, 15-2) Last week: 2
The Bears need to beat West Virginia, then have Kansas lose at Texas Tech if they are to clinch a share of their first regular-season conference championship since 1950. Even in that scenario, Baylor is locked in to the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.
3. Texas (19-11, 9-8) Last week: 6
Over the course of two weeks, the Longhorns have gone from NIT-bound to a legitimate argument as the third-best team in the Big 12.
With a win over Oklahoma State and a Texas Tech loss to Kansas, the Longhorns will be the No. 3 seed in Kansas City. However, they would fall to the fourth seed if the Red Raiders beat Kansas on the merit of the Big 12’s tiebreaking procedure.
4. West Virginia (20-10, 8-9) Last week: 5
It’s only Iowa State, but Tuesday’s win over the Cyclones was the nerve tonic the Mountaineers were desperately seeking. WVU is now an NCAA tournament lock and can still play its way into a better NCAA tourney seed than many people may think.
The Big 12 tourney seed, on the other hand, remains somewhat dicey.
If WVU loses to Baylor and TCU beats Oklahoma, the Mountaineers will open the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday as the No. 7 seed.
But if the Mountaineers beat Baylor while Texas Tech loses to Kansas and Texas loses to Oklahoma State, then West Virginia could jump all the way to the No. 3 seed by merit of a win over the second-seeded Bears. The missing piece to that puzzle would be TCU beating Oklahoma, as the Sooners have a head-to-head tiebreaker over West Virginia. If Oklahoma beats TCU in that scenario, the Sooners would earn the three-seed while West Virginia would be No. 4.
5. Oklahoma (18-12, 8-9) Last week: 3
The Sooners’ loss to Texas was very fluky — a great free-throw shooter misses for Oklahoma, then Texas banks in a three at the buzzer — but it’s still a loss.
As highlighted above, there is still a path to the No. 3 seed for the Sooners, who are guaranteed a tiebreaker over WVU if both teams have the same record.
6. Texas Tech (18-12, 8-9) Last week: 4
It’s suddenly must-win territory for last year’s national runners-up.
The Red Raiders are a lackluster 3-9 against Quad 1 teams in the NCAA’s NET system. A win over Kansas or in the Big 12 quarterfinals would clinch an NCAA bid, but if Texas Tech goes 0-2, it could (and should) be a hard sell.
Pending Saturday’s results, Texas Tech will be anywhere between the third and sixth seed in the Big 12 field.
7. TCU (16-14, 7-10) Last week: 8
The Horned Frogs are the Big 12’s oddest team, starting the season with a bang before fading and now resuscitating themselves at the right time.
TCU assured itself of an NIT bid with a win over Baylor that guaranteed no worse than a .500 finish, but it’s possible this team could get hot enough to take the Big 12 tourney and steal an NCAA bid from some poor bubble team.
Rooting against Jamie Dixon shouldn’t be hard for West Virginia fans, but they’ll definitely need to do it if the Mountaineers fall to Baylor.
8. Oklahoma State (16-14, 6-11) Last week: 7
Jubilant Oklahoma State fans chanted “N-I-T! N-I-T!” after the Cowboys clinched eligibility for that tournament by beating Kansas State on Wednesday.
Really, that’s a thing that happened. And deservedly so considering how bad this team looked in January. The Pokes could give Kansas a bit of a game in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
9. Iowa State (12-18, 5-12) Last week: 9
The Cyclones have looked better than most teams would without their best player, but the problem is they weren’t very good in the first place. Iowa State is locked into the 8-9 game against Oklahoma State, and might have a shot in that one just because it will be a virtual home game.
10. Kansas State (9-21, 2-15) Last week: 10
The Wildcats haven’t won a game since January. Yet this is not a team West Virginia wants to face in the opening round of the Big 12 tourney. Bruce Weber’s roster seems handpicked to be a difficult matchup for the Mountaineers and little else.