Big 12 standings close, tournament seeding unsure


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Senior guard DeAndre Kane dunks the ball during Iowa State’s 87-72 win over Baylor on Jan. 7 at Hilton Coliseum. Kane had 30 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals.

Alex Halsted

The standings in the Big 12 are tight, and the conference tournament picture remains foggy as the final stretch of the regular season begins and ends this week.

Want to figure out where teams might be seeded in Kansas City come next week? Good luck solving that messy picture.

“It’s too hard,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “You can drive yourself nuts looking at all of the different things that can potentially happen going into Kansas City. We feel you have to go out there and do what you can control.”

No. 16 Iowa State (22-6, 10-6 Big 12) could finish as high as second in the conference and as low as sixth. Realistically, they’ll finish somewhere in between.

With a victory against Kansas State during the weekend, Iowa State could have moved into sole possession of second place by one full game. A 7-point loss instead had the Cyclones in a four-way tie for second with Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma entering the week behind first-place Kansas at 10-6.

So, what then?

“I know it’s pretty tight and there’s a lot of tiebreakers and stuff like that,” said ISU forward Melvin Ejim. “I figure the best way for us is to try and win the next two. We just have to take care of our own business.”

Tiebreakers will eventually ensue to determine seeding for the conference tournament. Those numerous scenarios are confusing, too. There’s head-to-head records first, then records against Kansas and so on and so forth.

Hoiberg has talked to his team some about where it currently sits and where it could end up. Even that message begins and ends with what lies ahead this week.

“He said we’re in fourth place right now [with tiebreakers],” said ISU guard DeAndre Kane of the message from the fourth-year coach. “We could still climb our way up, other teams are going to play, guys are going to lose. For us, we’re just trying to win these next two games and see where they put us.”

That begins Tuesday when Iowa State travels to Waco, Texas to face Baylor. When the Bears (19-10, 7-9) traveled to Ames in early January, they did so for a matchup of top-10 teams. Kane scored 30 points to go along with nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals in a 15-point win.

A lot has changed since then.

Baylor is currently in the bottom portion of the Big 12 standings, still fighting for more victories and a late push for an NCAA tournament bid.

“When you feel like your back is up against the wall like Baylor does, you’re definitely going to come out fighting,” Ejim said. “This is their big chance to make it to the tournament. Just as important as it is for them, it’s important for us because we need these two.”

The Cyclones will follow Baylor up with its season finale at home Saturday against Oklahoma State, another fringe NCAA tournament.

That only makes a confusing Big 12 picture more interesting.

“It’s going to be a competitive finish to the season,” Hoiberg said. “But I think also a fun one.”