We have officially finished the 2016-2017 regular season in the Big 12 and what a season it was. Several teams had a rollercoaster ride throughout conference play, and at the end of the day the conference has essentially locked up five NCAA Tournament bids. Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia are in barring a huge surprise from the selection committee. Kansas State came into this week fighting to keep their tournament hopes alive, and went in opposite directions to close out the year.
It was not a pretty week for the Big 12 outside of Lawrence, Kansas and even the Jayhawks had their share of struggles. Two teams not themselves out of the NCAA Tournament as things currently stand (more on that later) while Baylor and West Virginia continued to slide, both dropping a game this week. Kansas did manage to clinch the Big 12 regular season outright this week, but they had to come back in a big way to beat the worst team in the conference, the Oklahoma Sooners. They clinched the title with a surprise team in second place, the Iowa State Cyclones.
We’re closing in on about two weeks left in the regular season and the battle for the Big 12 regular season championship is all but over. Kansas will almost assuredly take home the Big 12 regular season title, only needing one win to clinch a share and two to clinch it outright. Baylor, Iowa State, and West Virginia all sit three games back of the Jayhawks with only four to play. The rest of the Big 12 is still battling it out for position in the conference tournament, as well as for berths into the NCAA tournament.
The Big 12 standings as a whole tightened this week as Baylor and West Virginia each lost close on the road. The gap from second place to ninth place now sits at four and a half games, with only two teams in the conference out of the postseason picture in Oklahoma and Texas. One thing did become a little clearer this week, as Kansas now has a two-game lead on Baylor for first place in the conference after their undefeated week. Even with that lead, the title is far from clinched as Kansas has some very important games the rest of the way.
It was a crazy week in the Big 12, and only two teams came out unscathed: the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs. Everyone else in the conference took at least one loss, including the big three at the top, Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia. Not only did Baylor lose but they were one of two teams to not win a game this week, with Oklahoma being the other. With Kansas dropping their second conference game of the year, the Bears had a chance to jump the Jayhawks in the loss column.
This was supposed to be a week for the Big 12 to show that they are one of the best conferences in the nation, facing the weaker SEC in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Unfortunately, the conference only won half of their games in the challenge, taking five with the SEC taking the other five. The top of the conference took care of business as Baylor, Kansas, and West Virginia all took care of their SEC foes.
Just when it looks like Kansas is going to face stiff competition from two teams in the Big 12, the conference turns on its head. A top team lost twice this week, earning themselves a spot on the “Who’s Not” list. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State won their first Big 12 game this year, and followed it up with their second a few days later. While Oklahoma State was turning things around, so was TCU, but it wasn’t for the better. They lost all three of their games this week, weakening their NCAA tournament chances.
We’re starting to settle in to conference play, and this week helped further establish teams that should be playing in the NCAA tournament when March rolls around. With their blowout win over Baylor, West Virginia has established themselves as a legitimate threat to Kansas for the regular season title. Those three teams, Baylor, Kansas, and West Virginia, have all but guaranteed themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament.
It was quite a week in the Big 12, with quality games around the conference, including an upset in Lubbock and near upsets of Baylor and Kansas. Texas Tech defeated West Virginia by a score of 77-76 in overtime, scoring the biggest upset of the season to this point in the Big 12. Baylor was taken to the wire by Iowa State and Oklahoma State, while the Jayhawks took down Kansas State on a very controversial game-winning layup by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.