Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings: New No. 1 Entering Finals Week

Dec 18, 2023, 1:47 PM

Big 12 Basketball, Houston Cougars, LJ Cryer...

Houston moves up to No. 1 in the latest edition of the Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – Last week was eventful around Big 12 basketball.

From a loaded Saturday slate of games to off the court with West Virginia being at the epicenter of the temporary restraining order opening the door for two-time transfers to play this season. There’s a lot to unpack from the nation’s top hoops conference.

Along with all of that, there’s a new number-one team in the power rankings. We’ve stayed consistent with Kansas as the league’s top team for the entire season. The league will probably still move through Lawrence. History always points that way.

But as we enter the dog days of the non-conference schedule with the holidays and finals week here, it’s time to put the Houston Cougars in the number one spot.

Kansas struggled at Indiana, finding themselves down 13 only to roar back to squeak out a win. Meanwhile, after a slow start, Houston comfortably took care of business against a talented Texas A&M team in an NBA venue.

Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings: Week Seven Edition

Take a look at the week seven Big 12 basketball power rankings.

1. Houston (11-0, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 2 (Up 1)

Last Week

  • Houston 70, Texas A&M 66 (Toyota Center in Houston)

This Week

  • Thursday, December 21: vs. Texas State

Houston has the nation’s top defense and guard LJ Cryer continues to shine as one of the best three-point shooters in the league. The Coogs did suffer a hit to their depth, with Terrance Arcenaux suffering a torn Achilles in the win over Texas A&M, But this team is ready for the Big 12 basketball title chase.

2. Kansas (10-1, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 1 (Down 1)

Last Week

  • Kansas 75, Indiana 71 (Road Game)

This Week

  • Friday, December 22: vs. Yale

It’s nitpicky to drop Kansas a spot after its first-ever win at storied Assembly Hall in Bloomington. However, the offensive woes that Kansas has shown at times during the non-conference caused them to be in a 13-point deficit against a mediocre Hoosiers squad.

Kevin McCullar and DaJuan Harris made clutch shots as they typically do in key moments. But they had to play 77 minutes between the two of them. The bench was a no-show against IU.

3. Baylor (9-1, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 3

Last Week

  • Michigan State 88, Baylor 64 (Detroit)

This Week

  • Wednesday, December 20: vs. Duke (Madisan Square Garden)
  • Friday, December 22: vs. Mississippi Valley State

We’re keeping Baylor at No. 3 despite the blowout loss to a struggling Michigan State team. The offense for Baylor is lights out when they are rolling, but they are currently 13th in the Big 12 basketball rankings in points allowed at 69.6 per game.

This week should be fun for Baylor as they get a great bounce back opportunity against Duke in New York. Then, they close out the Farrell Center against Mississippi Valley State before moving into their new arena, Foster Pavilion, next month.

4. Oklahoma (10-0, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 4

Last Week

  • Oklahoma 81, Green Bay 47

This Week

  • Wednesday, December 20: vs. North Carolina (Spectrum Center in Charlotte)

One of the nation’s four remaining undefeated teams has a massive showdown on Wednesday against North Carolina in Charlotte. The Sooners cracked into the Top 10 of this week’s AP Top 25 for the first time under Porter Moser.

Otega Oweh leads the conference in field goal percentage, knocking down 66.7% of his shots.

5. BYU (10-1, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 5

Last Week

  • BYU 90, Denver 74
  • BYU 86, Georgia State 54

This Week

  • Friday, December 22: vs. Bellarmine

BYU got back on track after its first setback against Utah with a pair of blowouts on its home floor. The three-pointers continue to fly for Mark Pope’s squad. But the Big 12’s top three-point shooter, Jaxson Robinson, suffered an ankle injury against Georgia State. Regardless, this team continues to thump its opponents and now they have Kansas transfer Marcus Adams eligible and UC Irvine transfer Dawson Baker back from injury.

6. Iowa State (9-2, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 6

Last Week

  • Iowa State 96, Florida A&M 58

This Week

  • Thursday, December 21: vs. Eastern Illinois

Like BYU, the predictive ratings love the Cyclones. But there’s still a wonder if their non-conference success is a byproduct of a weak non-conference. The positive for the Cyclones is that big man Tre King had his double-double of the season. He will be someone the Cyclones need to dominate the glass in the league.

7. Texas (8-2, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 7

Last Week

  • Texas 96, LSU 85 (in Houston)

This Week

  • Friday, December 22: vs. Texas A&M Corpus-Christi

Max Abmas is the Big 12 Basketball Newcomer of the Week after scoring a team-high 20 points with seven assists and six rebounds in the win over LSU. Abmas has been the veteran leader that Texas wanted for an already veteran roster.

8. TCU (8-1, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 10 (Up 2)

Last Week

  • TCU 79, Arizona State 59 (Dickies Arena in Ft. Worth)

This Week

  • Thursday, December 21: vs. Old Dominion (Diamond Head Classic)
  • Friday, December 22: vs. Nevada or Temple (Diamond Head Classic)
  • Sunday, December 24: Diamond Head Classic

The Horned Frogs non-conference schedule has been leveling up since the calendar turned to December. Now, they get an MTE on Christmas week as part of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. It’s a field that TCU should come away as the champion.

If they keep getting career performances from Micah Peavy, they will leave the islands with some hardware. Peavy is the Big 12 Player of the Week after his first triple-double against Arizona State (13 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists).

9. Texas Tech (8-2, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 11 (Up 2)

Last Week

  • Texas Tech 82, Oral Roberts 76
  • Texas Tech 76, Vanderbilt 54 (Ft. Worth, Texas)

This Week

  • Thursday, December 21: vs. UT-Arlington

Sophomore Pop Isaacs had a career-high 19 points in a blowout win over Vanderbilt. To go along with leader Joe Toussaint, the Red Raiders have a nice tandem in the backcourt as Big 12 play nears.

10. Cincinnati (8-2, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 8 (Down 2)

Last Week

  • Cincinnati 85, Bryant 53
  • Dayton 82, Cincinnati 68 (Neutral court in Cincinnati)

This Week

  • Tuesday, December 19: vs. Merrimack
  • Friday, December 22: vs. Stetson

Cincinnati hit only 24% of its three-point attempts against Dayton—another poor showing from deep after hitting only 21% a week ago against rival Xavier.

Butler transfer Simas Lukosius had his best performance as a Bearcat, scoring 14 points off the bench. But there’s some real concern about the outside shooting.

11. UCF (6-3, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 12

Last Week

  • No games

This Week

  • Monday, December 18: vs. Maine
  • Thursday, December 21: vs. Florida A&M

UCF forward Jaylin Sellers is the Big 12’s leading scorer at 19.6 per game. The Knights have a tough defense that has kept teams in check. I’m not sure what the ceiling is for this team, but they could be a tough out in games played in Orlando.

12. Kansas State (8-3, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 9 (Down 3)

Last Week

  • Nebraska 62, Kansas State 46

This Week

  • Thursday, December 21: vs. Wichita State (in Kansas City)

Old Big 8 rival Nebraska rolled into Bramlage Coliseum and rolled through the Wildcats. It was a surprising performance for a group that was on a five-game winning streak that included wins over Villanova and LSU. The Wildcats have played a tough non-conference schedule but to get blown out on their home floor was a bit surprising.

13. Oklahoma State (5-5, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 13

Last Week

  • Oklahoma State 81, Oral Roberts 60

This Week

  • Wednesday, December 20: vs. Wofford

Heralded Top-50 center Brandon Garrison had the best game of his young Pokes career, scoring eight points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out six assists in the Oral Roberts win.

14. West Virginia (4-6, 0-0 Big 12)

Last week’s ranking: No. 14

Last Week

  • UMass 87, West Virginia 79 (Springfield, Massachusetts)

This Week

  • Wednesday, December 20: vs. Radford
  • Saturday, December 23: vs. Toledo

No program in college basketball was impacted more by the West Virginia judge placing a temporary restraining order on the NCAA’s waiver rules on two-time transfers. That opened the door for Montana State transfer RaeQuan Battle and Eastern Michigan’s Noah Farrakhan to play.

Farrakhan scored 15 points off the bench in the loss to UMass—an illness delayed Battle’s debut. Then the Mountaineers added Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa after he served his nine-game suspension. Kriisa started and scored 20 points.

But then the bad news came of leader Jesse Edwards being out four weeks with a fractured right wrist.

There’s talent on this Mountaineer squad and it won’t be easy to win in Morgantown. But until this team has its full collection of talent, it’s hard to put them anywhere but 14th right now.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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