How bad is the Big 12 as a basketball conference? So far, the Big 12 has been close to awful. The Sagarin Ratings have the Big 12 rated as the sixth best conference by both the central mean and the simple average methods. The Missouri Valley is ranked ahead of the mighty Big 12. Texas and OU started the season as top 10 teams and the premier teams in the league. Neither club has been overwhelmingly impressive. As we all know, Texas is currently on a two game skid and is desperately searching for defense and an offensive flow. OU is a respectable 6-1 but lost by double digits to Villanova (their only ranked opponent and only road game). The Big 12 still doesn't have a signature out of conference win.
The Big 12 has not started its conference season yet. So, it's hard to determine which teams while rise to the top come March and be tourney bound. However, multiple Big 12 squads have already suffered embarrassments against top teams which hurt not only the losing team but also the league as a whole. Texas Tech lost at Madison Square Garden 81-46 to a decent Syracuse team. Texas got whacked by Duke 97-66 in New Jersey. And Kansas lost twice managing only to beat Chaminade out in Maui to begin the season.
Losing against good teams is ok. Losing to bad teams is what makes your conference look like a Mid Major. Iowa State has home losses to Iona and to Fresno State. Kansas lost to St. Joseph's in Lawrence. Missouri opened their season with a home loss to Sam Houston State. Quinn Snyder's Tigers also lost at Davidson. Nebraska is 8-2 but lost at home to UAB and on the road to Creighton. Oklahoma State is rebuilding but there is no excuse for losing at home to Northwestern State. And Bobby Knight is getting redder by the game. The Red Raiders lost at San Francisco and have lost their last two contests against Louisiana Tech and UNLV.
If the tourney started tomorrow, the Big 12 would get only four bids. Texas and OU would be in for sure. Colorado would probably get in. They are currently the top rated Big 12 team in the Sagarin ratings. Kansas State and Iowa State would have their fingers crossed hoping for a double digit at-large berth.
Conference Predictions: I think Texas will find its identity and challenge OU for the conference championship. Iowa State will continue to improve and be led by their awesome backcourt of Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson. Colorado, Kansas, and Kansas State could make runs at the tourney. A&M and Nebraska are off to fast starts but neither has a quality win. The Aggies have yet to leave College Station and the Cornhuskers have only left Lincoln once and they lost. I expect both to struggle in conference games. Oklahoma State appears to be headed for a rebuilding year. Missouri still hasn't figured out how to fire their coach. Until that happens, they have no shot. Texas Tech is struggling. And Baylor won't play games until January.
Luckily, Selection Sunday is months away.