Big 12 conference play officially begins on Saturday and all ten schools have played their last non-conference game (Kansas plays Temple on Saturday). The 18-game, round robin grind that awaits will ultimately sort things out, but as of January 3rd, here is where each team sits in the eyes of the polls and rankings.
*All rankings as of January 2nd
Record: 11-1, #6 AP/Coaches
Kenpom.com Ranking: 5
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 3
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 2 & 3
Good Wins: At Ohio State, Colorado
Bad Losses: None
Outlook: Conference champion and will likely be a 2-seed or better in the tournament.
To the surprise of no one, Kansas has been the class of the conference thus far and appears to be all but a lock to win another league title. The emergence of Ben McLemore as a go-to option has been a blessing for Bill Self and Jeff Withey has been outright nasty protecting the rim, blocking 4.9 shots per game.
Record: 11-2, #25 AP
Kenpom.com Ranking: 45
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 58
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 70 & 206
Good Wins: Florida (neutral site)
Bad Losses: None
Outlook: Likely a top half of the conference finish and as high as a 4-seed in March
Kansas State doesn't appear to have fallen off under Bruce Weber. After a slow start by Rodney McGruder, the senior guard has rounded into form and is leading the team in scoring. The Wildcats have looked impressive at times, but are far from a polished product. In their losses to Michigan and Gonzaga, they were competitive in the first half but ended up losing both games by double digits.
Record: 10-2, #22 AP & #21 Coaches
Kenpom.com Ranking: 18
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 21
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 21 & 48
Good Wins: North Carolina State (neutral site), Tennessee? South Florida?
Bad Losses: None
Outlook: Potential challenger to Kansas and as high as a 3 or 4-seed for the tournament
The Cowboys have been led by freshman phenom, Marcus Smart, who hasn't always been efficient with his scoring, but is averaging 13.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.6 steals a game. This team can be exciting and athletic but is still learning how to play together.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 49
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 64
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 65 & 70
Good Wins: BYU
Bad Losses: None
Outlook: Tough to tell, but likely a top half of the conference finish and a bubble team.
The Cyclones don't have any bad losses and blew out BYU but you'd be hard pressed to find any ISU fan that really trusts this team after 13 games. The pieces are there and the experience is there but it still remains to be seen if the "it" factor is there.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 70
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 28
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 27 & 39
Good Wins: West Virginia?
Bad Losses: Stephen F. Austin
Outlook: A potential surprise team and potentially a bubble team in Lon Kruger's second year in Norman.
Outside of the loss to Stephen F. Austin, the Sooners have had a mostly solid non-conference season. Oklahoma looks deeper and with proven scorers like Steven Pledger and Romero Osby, there's no shortage on firepower.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 242
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 213
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 212 & 298
Good Wins: None really
Bad Losses: Well, SMU and Tulsa aren't terrible losses, but they don't help
Outlook: Bottom of the league and not even a lower level post season tournament
The injury bug has really hit the Frogs and most people didn't expect much from this team before half the team went down. Sophomore Kyan Anderson has been a bright spot in an otherwise somewhat dim season to date.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 28
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 34
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 34 & 10
Good Wins: @ Kentucky, BYU, Lehigh?
Bad Losses: Losing to College of Charleston at home can't happen
Outlook: Enough talent to give Kansas a run and it should be enough to get back to the tournament
Well, it's Baylor. Does that about sum it up? They can beat anyone and they can look very average. They always win the eyeball test getting off the bus, but for unknown reasons, Scott Drew still believes in the zone defense, and he's no Jim Boeheim.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 238
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 277
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 277 & 331
Good Wins: Yeah...no
Bad Losses: Surprisingly only McNeese St.
Outlook: As expected. Bottom of the league.
I actually think Tech is improving, but it's likely not going to show in the record this year. Winning in Lubbock this winter isn't going to be quite as easy as it was last year, but that's not really saying much.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 55
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 157
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 119 & 130
Good Wins: North Carolina
Bad Losses: Chaminade, USC?
Outlook: Incomplete until Myck Kabongo gets back, but it might be too late.
Lost in Texas' struggles is how suffocating they've been defensively. They may struggle to score, but good luck getting anything going against them. Rick Barnes has made the tournament every season he's been in Austin and he might just turn in his best coaching performance if he leads the Horns back to the dance this year. It could be considered a long shot at this point though.
Kenpom.com Ranking: 90
RealTimeRPI.com Ranking: 99
CBSSports.com RPI Ranking & SOS: 81 & 44
Good Wins: Virginia Tech?
Bad Losses: The losses to Gonzaga, Michigan and even Oklahoma you can excuse. The losses to Davidson and Duquense, you can't
Outlook: Middle of the pack in the conference and unless they get hot, probably the NIT.
West Virginia has been disappointing through 12 games. Going into the year, I was high on this team and thought they could finish as high as third in the conference, but transfers Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten and Matt Humphrey have yet to really mesh with a returning roster of talented, but young athletes.