I had intended to get a post together sometime last week in advance of conference play starting. But a you well know by now, that didn’t happen. So with ten teams having already tipped-off their 2009 conference season, I’ll now offer up my half-assed preview. But I gotta say, it doesn’t look pretty. In fact, all of college basketball appears pretty down this year and the Big XII is no exception whatsoever.
As of today, I’d rank the teams like so…
1. Oklahoma (15-1, 1-0). Personally, I haven’t been very impressed. Griffin and Warren are a great duo, but there isn’t much else to like. The best win was probably the neutral court OT victory over Purdue. Others in contention are close home wins over Davidson & USC as well as an unimpressive road win over K-State. In short, this team has proven very little despite their lofty record. The Arkansas loss doesn’t look too bad, but we’ll see.
2. Texas (12-3, 1-0). They probably have the most impressive resume of anyone, but I’m wholly unimpressed with them as well. The complete lack of PG play is sure to be their undoing and is greatly limiting what could be a very formidable team. They have a chance to score a huge victory tonight in Norman that would go along way towards not only their development, but in the conference race as well.
3. Baylor (13-2, 1-0). They really haven’t done all that much either, but they have won at least one road game (@ Wazzu) – a rarity in this league so far. Outside of that, the Arizona State win is to like and they don’t have to apologize for the loss to Wake. The home loss to South Carolina was pretty despicable though. I was also pretty uninspired by a close home win over what appears to be a pretty awful Tech team. To me, they just look like the same Baylor team that only competes when the ball is in their hands. They’re loaded with potential, but if they’re going to compete for this league, they need to get it going pretty quickly as their schedule is no cakewalk.
4. Kansas (11-4, 0-0). I like to think they’ll go 8-0 at home in league play. And from the looks of it, they may need to if they want to have any hope of winning the conference. They also need to take advantage of their early schedule to get things off and running on the right foot. First chance is tomorrow night in the Phog against a slightly better than expected K-State team.
5. Oklahoma State (12-3, 1-0). The Rhode Island win isn’t bad; neither is Siena. The losses to Michigan State & Gonzaga were expected and loss at Washington only looks bad because of the margin (18). They’ve got five double digit scorers and Thomas is pretty legit, but that’s where it ends. We’ll see how far six-deep takes them.
6. Texas A&M (14-2, 0-1). If this is the sixth best team, we’ve got a problem. The Arizona win is solid and the win @ Alabama will hold up nicely. Aside from that, there’s nothing to speak of in the win column (possibly LSU) while the loss @ OSU is excusable, losing to Tulsa at home was not. I’m not a believer yet, but we’ll soon find out as theyhave a very real chance at starting out league play 0-5 (Baylor, OU, @ KU, @ Texas are their next four).
7. Missouri (13-3, 0-1). The Cal win looks magnificent. And I’ll give them some credit for beating USC and winning at Georgia (though Texas A&M Corpus Christi accomplished the same and Wofford was but one point in OT away from it as well). Aside from that, there’s nothing in the win column, a respectable loss to Xavier and two awful ones to Illinois and @ Nebraska. They seem plenty dangerous and capable of making the tournament, but unless the Cal win really holds up (I’m not convinced yet) they’ve got so little out of conference that they can’t afford to lose games to the likes of Nebraska.
8. Kansas State (11-4, 0-1). Their best win on the season: @ Cleveland State. Yep, that’s the best one. And it’s not even close. Losses came on the road against 6-10 Oregon, a neutral court to Kentucky & Iowa, and this past weekend at home to Oklahoma. They’re by no means a tournament team, but they’ve got enough talent and home court advantage to put together a respectful conference season.
9. Nebraska (11-3, 1-0). They have a decent win over Creighton and a better one over Missouri. All of the others meant nothing. They had two understandable losses to @ ASU and Oregon State and one unforgivable one to Maryland-Baltimore County. I like Harley and Dagunduro (even Henry to an extent) and their resident Cookie is a decent distributor, but Sadler just doesn’t have much to work with up there.
10. Iowa State (11-5, 0-1). Brackins is an all-league type player, but he’s got little else around him. By Cyclone standards, the resume isn’t completely terrible – wins over Oregon State, UNI and @ Houston, but with losses @ Hawaii, to Drake, @ Iowa, to South Dakota State and this past weekend at Texas (though they deserve credit for keeping it very close in Austin).
11. Texas Tech (10-6, 0-1). There’s some players and some promise on this team. But it just isn’t getting them very far. Their notable wins pretty much end with Mississippi State and Wichita State. And after playing Pitt close in defeat, they’ve lost to Lamar, UTEP, TCU and Baylor and were absolutely run off the court @ Stanford (111-66). Yikes.
12. Colorado (8-6, 0-0). This is familiar territory for the Buffs and really there’s no reason to dissect their schedule as there are no wins even worth speaking of and really there’s only one forgivable loss – at Stanford, surprisingly by only 14. Higgins is a real nice player, but he has slightly less than nothing else around him at all times.
So there it is, my inaugural Big XII Power Rankings for 2009. Oklahoma and Texas are legit, though neither have any hope of winning the title and neither really looks Final Four worthy – though the rest of the country is down this year as well. Kansas and Baylor have potential, but neither are disciplined or balanced enough to really do anything. OSU, A&M, and Missouri all could be tournament teams, but all could miss it just as easily. KSU and maybe even Nebraska are in that next rung far above the bottom three, which are just horrendously awful. In all, the conference looks worse than it has in a while. In fact, I’d say it's no better than fourth overall behind the Big East, ACC and even the Big TelevEN (ouch). The Pac 10 may have an argument, the SEC does not. Let’s hope things improve soon – I’m not sure I’m ready for a world in which the Big TelevEN is considered superior to the Big XII.