Editor's Note: Most of this piece was written prior to the three overtime classic on Big Monday between Iowa State and Oklahoma State. A quick check of the rankings this morning shows minimal separation between these rankings and where the schools currently stand. The only item of note is Sagarin's rankings now have Iowa State firmly at #9.
Here we are back with week two of Big XII RPInsights and while the standings have seen jockeying there have been some clear distinctions made between the conference contenders and pretenders. We're switching some things up this week and splitting out the rankings individually to give a clearer look at the strengths and weaknesses of the teams. First up is our favorite set of rankings around here: Ken Pomeroy
|Conf. Rank||Team||Rank||O Rank||D Rank||SoS Rank|
No we didn't blow a leprechaun to get all these colors. It's just a handy guide that I put together with some easy Excel conditional formatting. KenPom does a great job highlighting the strong and weak areas of each team, and as it concerns how each team falls out in the conference race we thought we would do the same.
Despite Texas beating Kansas in Austin on Saturday there has been no change at the top. Kansas is by far and away the best team in the conference and a loss on the road to an improving team doesn't do much to change the conference race. Things get muddled there but look down at 6th place Iowa State.
The Cyclones are the only team other than Kansas to display green in all four areas. That 8th national ranking in SoS is buoyed by the fact they have the top ranking in conference SoS currently. With the upcoming stretch for the Cyclones it will not be surprising to see all that green eventually end up with a #2 conference ranking next to it.
Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kansas State are working to separate themselves but all have their worts. For Texas it's their offense. Ditto to Kansas State. For Oklahoma the comparisons to the 2012-13 Cyclones are still going strong, because just like the Cyclones from last season this Sooner team doesn't play very good defense. Then despite their better than predicted start to the conference season, West Virginia somehow boasts the second worst defense in the conference. That's right, better than TCU but somehow worse than Texas Tech. It's possible all four of these teams make the Dance, but it's possible they all beat themselves up to the point that only a few remain healthy enough to play extended minutes in March.
Texas Tech and TCU are who we thought they were: cellar dwellers, but they're still joined by a Baylor team that should not be putting up middle of the road stats with their talent. Time will tell if Baylor's win in Stillwater on Saturday will turn their season around, but they still play everyone else on top of the conference at least once.
|Rank||Predict Rank||Pure_ELO Rank|
Sagarin is still bullish on Kansas (who isn't?) and is still fairly bullish on Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Texas and Oklahoma look great by virtue of their previous success (Pure_ELO). Kansas State looks like a strong bubble team at this point and West Virginia and Baylor could very well fight it out for the final bid in the conference.
RealTimeRPI & ESPN BPI
|Rank||Sos Rank||Rank||Sos Rank|
Grouping these two together because they largely say the same thing. Kansas is great, TCU is terrible, and everyone else is in between. ESPN's BPI still confounds me and I think it's because of the human intervention of it. They very clearly state they account for games differently when key players are missing, and an argument can be made for that being a good analysis technique, but shouldn't these rankings reflect the full body of work of a team? Injuries are just one component of that. If we start putting less stock in games that do not feature key players how long before we exclude victories over Scott Drew coached teams all together?
Kansas: The 2008 National Championship team lost in Austin, and the Longhorns almost always play Kansas close when they visit. Texas is improving quickly and a team led by freshmen will have troubles on the road. Long story short: Kansas still rules the conference. NCAA Tournament Status: Lock
This Week: @Baylor, vs West Virginia
Texas: The win over Kansas is big for the resume and Texas is going to knock off a few other good teams at home this year. They're moving in the right direction at the right time, but if they want to get into serious discussion to finish in the top three in the conference and a high seed come March they'll have to find a way to win on the road. They still have opportunities at Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, and Oklahoma, but all could be losses as well. However, if they just hold court at home they're easily into the tournament. NCAA Tournament Status: 75% Lock
This Week: @TCU, vs Kansas State
Oklahoma: Oklahoma is going to be a tough out for anyone they play, and will steal a few games they shouldn't just because of Lon Kruger on the sidelines. This team is strong from behind the arc and just as strong underneath it. They're going to struggle on the interior on defense, but have enough weapons to keep up with anybody. Like the rest of the pack they're likely to beat up on everyone around them, but should be dancing. NCAA Tournament Status: 70% Lock
This Week: @West Virginia, vs Baylor
Kansas State: Shane Southwell disappearing has not helped this team in the slightest. Especially on the road when freshmen and their performances can be dicey. A tough out at home for everyone in the conference (just ask anyone from Oklahoma), but the struggles on the road will be compounded if they drop a few in Bramlage as well. NCAA Tournament Status: 50/50
This Week: vs Texas, vs Kansas (2/10)
West Virginia: The surprise of the season for me so far, and it's all because of guard Juwan Staten. This team still has a hell of a hill to climb to make it into the Dance, and need to do it with one of the worst defenses in the league that still has to face Kansas, Iowa State, and Oklahoma twice. The opportunity is there and if they hold court in Morgantown it's almost believable to see them playing in the Dance before Kansas State. NCAA Tournament Status: 45%
This Week: vs Oklahoma, @Kansas
Iowa State: A big win on Monday night in Stillwater caps off a stretch of games where the Cyclones played eight consecutive ranked opponents. The schedule lightens up with TCU and West Virginia twice this month and home dates with Texas and Texas Tech. NCAA Tournament Status: 90% Lock
This Week @Oklahoma State (98-97 W, 3 OT), vs TCU
Oklahoma State: This could be the middle of the pack team that I mentioned last week that could implode the rest of the season. Talented, but still coached by Travis Ford and Marcus Smart is nursing a bruised up shooting hand. Smart got going last night against Iowa State, but is the supporting cast of LeBryan Nash and Markel Brown enough to keep this team afloat. They're too talented to completely implode like Baylor, but they aren't going to walk into March with a top seed. NCAA Tournament Status: 60% Lock
This Week: vs Iowa State (98-97 L, 3 OT), @Texas Tech
Texas Tech: They're still going to beat someone in Lubbock they shouldn't...oh...they already beat Baylor? Well now they get to set their sights on a reeling Oklahoma State team this week. NCAA Tournament Status: No
This Week: vs Oklahoma State
Baylor: Back-to-back NIT Champions! That may be premature since they have ample opportunity to get themselves back in the discussion this week, but Pierre Jackson isn't walking through that door anytime soon. NCAA Tournament Status: NIT Final Four
This Week: vs Kansas, @Oklahoma
TCU: They are terrible. Hoping for #ELLERMANTIME in Hilton this weekend. NCAA Tournament Status: No
This Week: vs Texas, @Iowa State
The top six in the league are starting to clearly define themselves but now the question is does that six become five, or does Baylor find a way to make it a season and turn the Big XII into a seven bid league? Only time will tell.