By Daniel Hill
Just over halfway into the Big 12 Conference basketball season, six teams are within three games of each other for the Big 12 regular season title.
The Kansas Jayhawks, the unanimous preseason choice to win the Big 12, have lost three consecutive games. Kansas’ shocking losing streak has created a logjam among the Big 12 standings.
Kansas had held the top spot in conference standings until its Saturday loss to Oklahoma who is now in fourth place. With the Jayhawks losing, the Kansas State Wildcats seized the opportunity to grab first place by defeating Iowa State and increasing their Big 12 record to 8-2.
The top five teams are all within two games of each other. The Big 12 is anyone’s conference to win.
Kansas State is in second place with a 8-3 conference record. There is an intense two-way tie for fifth place with Iowa State and Baylor all tied at 6-4. The West Virginia Mountaineers are even in the mix with a 5-5 record and are only three games out of first place.
With eight conference games remaining, Baylor sits in excellent position only two games out of first place with a conference record of 6-4.
“This year, there is so much parity in the Big 12,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “Every game is so important, especially your home games. When you think of Big 12 basketball, there’s a lot of skill, a lot of athleticism and a lot of toughness on the inside.”
Seven out of 10 teams in the Big 12 have an overall and conference record of .500 or better. With so much competition in the conference, it’s impossible to predict what will take place as every teamvies for the conference title.
“In this conference anyone can beat anybody on any given night,” junior guard Brady Heslip said. “It’s one of the best conferences from top to bottom so we’re ready for every game.”
Despite being winless in the conference, TCU proved the notion that anyone can beat anybody when they shockingly defeated Kansas 62-55 last Wednesday in Fort Worth.
Every season presents its own challenges. The season is an extensively long challenge for coaches and players, especially in the Big 12. The course of a season is filled with peaks and valleys. Baylor was sitting high on the mountaintop after defeating Oklahoma State and TCU. Then Baylor went through the valleys of the season after a three-game losing streak to Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State before bouncing back and defeating Texas Tech.
“Coach always says there are ups and downs in seasons and you just have to bounce back and come out with hunger,” freshman guard L.J. Rose said.
Last night, Kansas defeated Kansas State to regain the top spot in the conference standings, and Oklahoma jumped up after a win over TCU.
Then, on Wednesday night, the conference picture will be rattled once again. Texas Tech will host Oklahoma State. Iowa State travels to Austin to take on the Longhorns and the Baylor Bears will face West Virginia at the Ferrell Center.
By the end of the Wednesday games, the Big 12 conference could have a new leader and the massive logjam of ties for second and third place will start to separate the cream from the crop.
“That’s the great thing in the Big 12—every game is a challenge,” Drew said. “I think the great thing about crowds and the Big 12 is every game you are excited for.”