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Big 12 Rankings: Week 5

Iowa+State+player+Tamin+Lipsey+guards+Dajuan+Harris+Jr.+of+Kansas+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Kansas+match+on+Jan.+27%2C+2024+in+Hilton+Coliseum.
Joseph Dicklin
Iowa State player Tamin Lipsey guards Dajuan Harris Jr. of Kansas during the Iowa State vs. Kansas match on Jan. 27, 2024 in Hilton Coliseum.

Team of the week

Christian Royston: Iowa State

I know it may seem a little biased for me to put Iowa State as the team of the week, but when you look across the Big 12, there really is no team that showed up to defend home court this week like Iowa State.

The Cyclones pieced together big wins over Kansas State, who was just outside the rankings, and then-No. 7 Kansas to see themselves rise to No. 12 in the rankings. That jump alone should show you how impactful the two wins were for the Cyclones.

The Wildcats were one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 when the Cyclones met them at Hilton. After a gritty matchup, Iowa State came out on top and fended off a comeback throughout the entire second half.

The win against Kansas was almost more impactful than the win over Kansas State, as the Cyclones showed how deadly they can be from beyond the arc and pieced together a rather large win at the end. Fending off comebacks in both games showed how tough the Cyclones can be and should be a good sign going forward.

Logan Shanks: Houston

Based on how the Cougars performed this week, I have no reason not to have them as my team of the week for the second week in a row. 

Since their two-game skid at the start of Big 12 play, Houston has won four straight including two top-25 wins, one of which came Tuesday on the road against then-No. 21 BYU. Another 40-plus point opening half by Houston gave it the lead, which the team held onto by forcing BYU to shoot 36% from the field and 25% from distance. 

Following the first Big 12 road win of the season, Houston kept its winning streak alive with an even more convincing win against Kansas State. The Cougars outscored the Wildcats 41-21 in the first half on 41% shooting from the field including six 3-pointers. Houston ended the game with 18 forced turnovers and shot 16-for-20 from the free-throw line to lead to its 74-52 win over Kansas State, its second largest margin of victory in Big 12 play. 

For the second consecutive week, Houston has looked more like itself, living off its pesky defense that fuels its offense, which is filled with efficient inside scorers. 

Rankings

Royston

  1. Houston (18-2, 5-2)
  2. Texas Tech (16-3, 5-1)
  3. Iowa State (16-4, 5-2)
  4. Kansas (16-4, 4-3)
  5. TCU (15-5, 4-3)
  6. Baylor (14-5, 3-3)
  7. Kansas State (14-6, 4-3)
  8. Oklahoma (15-5, 3-4)
  9. Texas (14-6, 3-4)
  10. Cincinnati (14-6, 3-4)
  11. BYU (15-5, 3-4)
  12. UCF (12-7, 3-4)
  13. West Virginia (7-13, 2-5)
  14. Oklahoma State (9-11, 1-6)

Shanks

  1. Houston (18-2, 5-2)
  2. Texas Tech (16-3, 5-1)
  3. Iowa State (16-4, 5-2)
  4. Kansas (16-4, 4-3)
  5. TCU (15-5, 4-3)
  6. BYU (15-5, 3-4)
  7. Kansas State (14-6, 4-3)
  8. Baylor (14-5, 3-3)
  9. Texas (14-6, 3-4)
  10. Oklahoma (15-5, 3-4)
  11. Cincinnati (14-6, 3-4)
  12. UCF (12-7, 3-4)
  13. Oklahoma State (9-11, 1-6)
  14. West Virginia (7-13, 2-5)

Ranking highlights

Royston

There really is no doubt that Houston is the No. 1 team in the Big 12 right now, especially considering what the team has done since its two-game slide. However, the two teams that have been surprisingly good and earned the next two spots are Texas Tech and Iowa State. Texas Tech has only dropped one game in the Big 12 and sit at the top of the standings, while Iowa State just took down then-No. 7 Kansas and rose to No. 12 in the standings. 

I feel as though TCU has done enough to solidify itself as a top-five team in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs are coming off an eventful week on the road that saw them take down Baylor in triple overtime. Not only that, but they have solid losses, falling to the likes of Iowa State, a top-three team, and Kansas on the road.

Two teams that I feel are underrated at the moment are Oklahoma and Cincinnati. It seems that some people are counting out Oklahoma after a handful of losses pushed it almost out of the rankings. The Sooners played Texas Tech as close as they could and fought hard against Kansas earlier in the season. Not only that, but they took down Iowa State and beat Cincinnati on the road.

Cincinnati is a team I am high on too, and I have been high on it for a while now. The Bearcats have solid losses, playing Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Baylor close with half of those games being played on the road. They also have wins over BYU and TCU, which are both tough teams to match up with.

Speaking of BYU, I do feel as though I have the Cougars low in my rankings. The real reason is how good the Big 12 is right now. The Cougars are playing well and have solid wins, but they have not looked as good as other teams in the Big 12. Maybe a few more weeks will prove me wrong, but their schedule does not get easier from here.

Shanks

While I am cautious about putting teams like Iowa State at three and Texas Tech at two, I can’t find a reason not to put them both this high. Both the Cyclones and the Red Raiders had ranked wins this last week, with Iowa State upsetting then-No. 7 Kansas, and Texas Tech edging out then-No.11 Oklahoma.

I still can’t seem to figure out teams like Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma and the potential each team may have. Both the Sooners and the Bears are on losing streaks, and although the Longhorns picked up their second conference road win this week, they then allowed BYU to shoot 64% from the field in a 12-point loss. 

I admittedly was a little too high on Kansas State heading into last week, and although both its losses came on the road, each had moments that made the Wildcats look like a completely different team than they were a few weeks ago. 

Overall, the bottom of the Big 12 is starting to get carved out with teams like West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Cincinnati, but there are still a lot of teams that will likely be playing meaningful basketball in March. But top teams like Texas Tech and Houston will be tested with road matchups, which could cement the squads as top-tier teams in the conference.

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