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Big 12 Power Rankings - 12/23/11

With the non-conference season nearing its end and Christmas approaching, the conference hierarchy is starting to take shape and the top two teams in the Big 12 have begun separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Interesting note; there are six undefeated teams in the country as of December 23rd, and two of them are in Big 12. The only other conference with two unbeaten teams is the Big East (#1 Syracuse and #4 Louisville).

1. Missouri, 12-0, #8 – The Tigers retain the top spot, but barely as they held off #24 Illinois on Thursday night 78-74 in Columbia. The win was Missouri’s second this season over a ranked team and fourth victory over an opponent from a "BCS" league. Mizzou’s body of work to date is better than Baylor’s, thus the top spot.

2. Baylor, 11-0, #7 – Baylor has had an exceptional week so far and it could get even better if the Bears take down future Big 12 rival, West Virginia tonight in the Las Vegas Classic. Scott Drew’s squad kicked off the last seven days by scoring an impressive victory in Provo in front of 22,000 BYU fans, and knocked off a very good St. Mary’s team on Thursday night. I penalized the Bears for their resume in last week’s rankings, but trust me, I’ve taken notice. IfBaylor knocks off West Virginia and handles #17 MississippiState on December 28th, expect Baylor take control of the top spot in the league.

3. Kansas State, 8-1 – At first glance, you might think the only reason the Wildcats have jumped up to the 3-spot is because, Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M have all suffered bad losses since these rankings were last published, but that would be taking away from what Frank Martin’s guys have accomplished on the court. KSU notched one of the best victories of the last week, taking apart then #21 Alabama 71-58 at the SprintCenter in Kansas City. KSU has a few more tune ups before Big 12 play begins, but we’ll find out how good this team is as they open conference play at Kansas, before hosting Missouri and Baylor.

4. Kansas, 8-3, #11 – Kansas followed up their victory over Ohio State by losing to Davidson at home, and no, Steph Curry did not suit up. Kansas did rebound and cruise to an easy win at USC, but the Jayhawks are clearly a grade below the top twoteams in the conference.

5. Texas, 9-3 – It was a so-so week for the Longhorns. They did pick up a nice victory against Temple, but were destroyed by #6 North Carolina, 82-63 in Chapel Hill. I’ve watched Texas play a couple times this year and I’m still not sure what type of ceiling this team has. Based off what I’ve seen, I’m not sure ‘Horns coach Rick Barnes knows either.

6. Iowa State, 9-3 – The Cyclones mucked their way to an uninspired win against Central Michigan and had a workmanlike effort against Lipscomb on Wednesday night, but the important thing is that they didn’t have two bad losses like the Texas A&M did.

7. Texas A&M, 8-3 – Losing a neutral site game to #13 Florida is nothing to be ashamed of. Losing by 20 though and never looking like you had a chance, that’s different. And to make matters worse, you can’t follow that up with a home loss to Rice, a team that Iowa State beat by 27 earlier in the year. I still think the Aggies will be dancing come March, but at this point, this team has no offensive scoring punch to speak of.

8. Oklahoma, 9-1 – In full disclosure, I’ll admit that this might be a slight to what Oklahoma has done thus far. The Sooners are playing well and their lone loss is to a pretty good St. Louis team. The competition will start to pick up and Oklahoma does have an interesting match up with Cincinnati (bring your boxing gloves) before beginning Big 12 play. Prove me wrong OU.

9. Oklahoma State, 6-5 – The ‘Pokes don’t have a bad loss, but they don’t have a good win either. This team has just enough talent to spring an upset or two, but OSU just looks like they lack the horses to consistently pose a challenge night in and night out.

10. Texas Tech, 5-5 – The only real question at this point is if the Red Raiders will win a Big 12 game. They’ll have 18 chances, but I’m not so sure it’s going to happen.