Just another Saturday in the Big 12.
In the first few hours of action on Saturday, the best league in the country saw four results that all moved the needle nationally: Oklahoma State went to No. 19 West Virginia and won by three; Baylor dominated the final few minutes against No. 10 Kansas to win by 16; Trae Young and No. 17 Oklahoma struggled en route to an eight-point loss at Iowa State; and TCU blew out Texas by 16.
So through four games on Saturday, the bottom four teams in the Big 12 were 4-0.
That’s just how crazy the league is this season.
The biggest ramifications from the afternoon set of games is that Kansas’ Big 12 title streak is in serious jeopardy yet again. After the Jayhawks lost at home to Texas Tech in early January, there was talk this might be the year it ended. They responded by winning five in a row while the rest of the conference floundered. Now, after losing three of six, the Jayhawks will need help to earn at least a share of their 14th straight Big 12 regular-season title. Texas Tech could go a full game ahead of Kansas if it wins at Kansas State on Saturday night -- and the Jayhawks still have to travel to Lubbock in a couple of weeks.
Moreover, Kansas also fades further from 1-seed consideration despite the Jayhawks’ impressive strength of schedule ranking and high number of Quadrant 1 wins. When they were atop the Big 12, it was easier to ignore some of the negatives on the résumé (six losses, a home loss to Oklahoma State). If Texas Tech is ahead of Kansas, that makes it more difficult.
Oklahoma and West Virginia are both in free fall. West Virginia’s home loss to Oklahoma State was the Mountaineers’ sixth defeat in nine games -- including three losses in Morgantown. The more concerning slump belongs to Oklahoma, though, as the Sooners have lost six straight road games and six of their past eight games. What’s most worrying about Oklahoma is its remaining schedule. The Sooners still have to go to Texas Tech, Kansas and Baylor, meaning there’s a legitimate chance they finish .500 in the Big 12, with 12 losses heading into Selection Sunday (assuming they don’t win the Big 12 tournament). There’s no doubt Oklahoma makes the NCAA tournament, but the Sooners are teetering toward a potential 8-9 game in the first round.
On the other side, Saturday’s results mean we could have as many as nine Big 12 teams with NCAA tournament hopes heading into the final week or two of the season. Oklahoma State and Baylor were pretty far down the pecking order, but suddenly both teams are back in contention. Mike Boynton has done a tremendous job in his first season in Stillwater, with wins over Kansas, West Virginia, Florida State, Oklahoma and Texas. The Cowboys aren’t quite in the field yet, but they’re certainly in the mix. Meanwhile, Baylor -- left for dead after losing eight of 10 in January -- has won three in a row and has chances to boost its résumé all month. The Bears still face Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State. If they can go 4-2 in that stretch, they’re going to be in the conversation.
Seven of the 10 teams are within two games of each other in the Big 12 standings, while there’s a chance the entire league is separated by only four games by the end of the weekend.
Another Big 12 weekend, another chance to show why it’s the best conference in the country this season.