Best Big 12 Bets This Weekend

The Big 12 gets back into the swing of conference play this weekend, and it’ll be nice to see how some of these teams stack up against each other. The conference as a whole has not had great coverage over the first two weeks, as they collapsed versus the Sun Belt, and Oklahoma State didn’t look good in barely putting away Tulsa last week. The narrative is that it’s Oklahoma’s conference, Texas is pretty good, and it’s a lot of nothing after that, so we will see if anyone can shake that perception. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best Big 12 bets to make this week. As with our SEC and ACC bets, nothing here includes odds better than -200.

Texas @ Texas Tech, OVER 70.5

This over/under probably would have had to have touched 80 before I would have considered betting the under. Texas dropped 59 points on UTEP in their opener, while Texas Tech gave up a horrific 33 points to Houston Baptist. Texas’s defense was not strong last year, and while I anticipate an improvement, I still think Texas Tech has the offense to put up around 30 points. But I’d also be betting on the Longhorns dropping another 50-piece on the Red Raiders, whose abysmal defense will be picked apart by Sam Ehlinger and Co. I’d consider betting Texas -17.5 here as well, but I think the over is a pretty secure shot.

Baylor (-18) vs. Kansas

Baylor has beaten Kansas ten straight times, and in nine of those ten games, they won by at least 19 points, including the past eight. Baylor has had several games postponed or cancelled and have been gearing up for gameday multiple times, so I don’t doubt that they’ll be ready to go out of the gate on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kanas lost to Coastal Carolina. By 15 points. At home. Roll Baylor here.

Kansas State (+28.0) @ Oklahoma, OVER 60.5

I’m hitting this game with the double bet. This seems like a pretty low over/under for two pretty solid Big 12 offenses. Kansas State put up 31 points in their first game, while the Sooners dropped 48. Meanwhile, Kansas State gave up 35 to Arkansas State, so I anticipate Spencer Rattler and the Oklahoma offense to easily eclipse 40+ points. If they hit 42, that leaves Kansas State needing just 19 to hit the over, bringing me to my second point.

This spread is just ridiculous to me. Over in the SEC, Georgia is a 28-point favorite against Arkansas, who hasn’t won a SEC game in two years. Kansas State went 8-5 last year…and they beat Oklahoma! How are they 28 point ‘dogs? Maybe I’m missing something drastic, but with Rattler making his first start against Power-5 competition, I just don’t see Oklahoma rolling over this 28 point spread.

Thomas: Best and Worst Atmospheres in College Football

A deafening homefield advantage can make or break a football team – and whether it’s the pure noise, the great traditions, the capacity, or anything else, there are many factors to determining the best atmospheres in college football. Here’s my take on the best and worst atmospheres in each Power-5 conference (full rankings to come another day). These rankings are largely based off the 2019 season and recent years, as some atmospheres are only raucous when the home team is a powerhouse, lowering those teams in our rankings. Without further ado here’s the rankings.

Pac-12

Worst Atmosphere: UCLA
The best game to take place at UCLA is the Rose Bowl, and UCLA is rarely a participant. The Bruins rarely play in a full stadium, failing to reach even 50% capacity in three different games last season, and they don’t boast any great traditions, or even a particularly good team, to make up for the lack of rowdiness in the crowd. 

Best Atmosphere: Utah
Size doesn’t always matter. Utah packs just 45,807 people into their stadium, but nearly every game is sold out, cheering on one of the state’s only relevant teams. When the Utes go into battle on the gridiron, it’s easily the most intense athletic competition in the state throughout the year. Their dominance of the Holy War rivalry is always entertaining, and their cannon fire after every Utah score is a thrilling punctuation mark to a successful possession for the home team. 

Honorable Mention: Colorado, Oregon, Washington

Big 12

Worst Atmosphere: Kansas
Look, it’s hard to blame the Jayhawks on this one. They are most definitely a basketball school, and they rarely, if ever, put a competitive product on the gridiron. Some fanbases can stay dedicated through the bad years – but it’s been a never-ending era in Kansas. They haven’t put up more than three wins since 2009, and they have only three top-10 finishes in the AP Poll in school history. Hard to go crazy here. 

Best Atmosphere: Baylor

Coming off my freshman year in college, I am a sucker for great traditions involving freshmen, and the Baylor Line is one of those. The chosen freshman partake in a mad dash to set up a human tunnel for the football team to run through, and then lead the student section in distinctive gold jerseys. Baylor also frequently packs their 45,000 seat stadium well over capacity. Considering they’re rarely the class of the Big 12, the consistently rowdy atmosphere in Waco is impressive, compared to bigger teams like Texas or Oklahoma, where the atmosphere tends to strictly correlate to the team’s success. Probably an unpopular pick, but this is my list so… Sic em Bears. 

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Oklahoma 

Big 10

Worst Atmosphere: Rutgers
Rutgers is just bad. The team is never competitive, they don’t have a true rivalry game to get hyped up for, and they’re also from New Jersey. I mean, does anything good come out of New Jersey? Shouldn’t be too much explanation needed here. The games aren’t exciting, the crowd isn’t excited, and the scoreboard usually reads something like 42-6 by the end of the game. 

Best Atmosphere: Nebraska
The Big 10 was a brutal decision, but I went with the Cornhuskers and their otherworldly sellout streak. Nebraska has football – and the College World Series – and that’s it. Nothing else relevant happens in Nebraska, and seemingly the entire state turns up for gameday. Nebraska is rarely even relevant in the Big 10, and yet they still pack in some of the rowdiest crowds in the nation. Last year, despite being destroyed by Ohio State after hosting College Gameday, a panorama of the crowd saw virtually every member of the above-capacity game still standing and roaring in a 40-point game in the fourth quarter. Dedication and commitment. Just imagine if the Cornhuskers were good.

Honorable Mention: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State

ACC

Worst Atmosphere: Pittsburgh
I’m generally disappointed by Pitt crowds, because the Panthers produce a quality football team most seasons, and they just don’t get a lot of love from the home crowd. Being the second best team in the state to Penn State definitely hurts, but it would be nice to see Pitt get a little love. They consistently challenge big-name programs and occasionally deliver with a stunning upset, yet rarely get much hometown support. It hurts that they play home games at Heinz Field, meaning they aren’t even on campus, which probably makes it harder to generate excitement. They’re good, but Pitt is still a middle-of-the-road team, and that clearly isn’t enough for Panther nation. 

Best Atmosphere: UNC

Cue all the hate I’ll get for not picking Clemson. Little-known fact: UNC actually filled their stadium more than Clemson did last year. The Tar Heels play in a smaller stadium (50,500) but played every game in front of a capacity crowd. The sheer lack of excitement in many of Clemson’s conference affairs contribute to the Tigers missing out on the top spot. The Tar Heels nearly beat Clemson behind their home crowd last season, and Tar Heel nation consistently turns out for their squad, despite being known as a basketball school, even featuring some underrated traditions – like this fourth quarter hype video which the entire crowd rocks to.

Honorable Mention: Clemson, NC State, Virginia Tech

SEC

Worst Atmosphere: Vanderbilt

To be fair, the Commodores probably get some rowdy baseball crowds. But that’s their best sport far and away, and it’s pretty clear that many students, alumni, and fans have better things to do than watch Vandy get smacked by Alabama, LSU, and the rest of the SEC on a weekly basis. 

Best Atmosphere: Georgia
I love Georgia’s stadium, which turns out in a big way for primetime games. Remember when they forced Notre Dame into a dozen false start penalties? Absolutely ridiculous noise levels are reached in Sanford Stadium, and from the call to attention with the trumpet and iconic highlight reel video at the beginning of the game, to the fourth quarter lights tradition, to their well-known bulldog mascot, Georgia produces an electric gameday atmosphere. 

Honorable Mention: Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU

Daily Headlines: Oklahoma with a great weekend of recruiting

Oklahoma addresses LB and WR with a pair of 4-stars

The Sooners continue to rake in elite recruits, as they added a four-star linebacker and receiver (4 or 5-star depending on the ranking) to bolster their 2021 class. They secured a commitment from LB Clayton Smith – this decision was made far sweeter given that Red River rival Texas was considered favored to land the linebacker, but Smith heads for the Sooners, who just lost first-round pick Kenneth Murray to the NFL. Meanwhile, wide receiver Mario Williams, a 5-star by rivals.com and the second best receiver in the class, opts for the offense-happy Big 12, specifically the Sooners. With Lincoln Riley having cultivated Heisman finalists in four consecutive years, Williams figures to have plenty of opportunities to thrive. This decision wasn’t much of a surprise, as the Florida product was always forecasted to head to Oklahoma, but it’s still a huge get for the Sooners who enjoyed a great weekend on the recruiting trails. 

Auburn gets versatile Dawson, 4-star tackle

This headline was going to address what side of the ball Auburn focused on with their recruits, but in securing Tar’Varish Dawson, a 2021 athlete, the Tigers not only pulled a small surprise, but they landed an elite athlete capable of helping Auburn out on both sides of the ball. Dawson is from Florida, and the general consensus was that he was headed for the U to help Miami climb back to national relevancy, but instead, the two-way threat announced he was 1000% committed to Auburn, with an emphatic “WAR EAGLE” at the end of his commitment post. Auburn has often had the short end of the stick in their battle for SEC supremacy with Alabama and LSU, but Dawson, regardless of where he slots in, should help boost their prospects. Along with Dawson, Auburn focused on the trenches, bringing in four-star tackle Caleb Johnson. Auburn was a long-time frontrunner for the Florida product, who was one of their top offensive line targets, and they fended off Notre Dame and Florida State among others for his commitment. 

OK State, Alabama pick up defensive assets

With in-state rival Oklahoma bringing in an elite linebacker, Oklahoma State countered, landing their own four-star defensive star in linebacker Collin Oliver. The Sooners never seriously pursued Oliver, and the Cowboys quickly became favorites for the in-state product. Even still, a border-line top 10 player from Oklahoma, this is a very solid four-star pickup from Oklahoma State.
Meanwhile, Alabama was doing Alabama things in recruiting, securing a commitment from four-star safety Kaine Williams. This was a particularly great get for the Crimson Tide, as Williams is an elite Louisiana product who nearly committed to LSU before waiting. Alabama, seemingly third on his list to the Tigers and Texas A&M, rose to the top of Williams’ list and earned his commitment. Tabbed as the nation’s sixth-best safety, Williams is a great addition to what has been a lackluster Alabama recruiting season, as they look to improve on their current 59th-ranked 2021 class. 

Baylor picks up a 4-star receiver

Baylor fought their way back close to the top of the Big 12 this season, and they’re hoping to stay there. Winning that war requires winning battles on the recruiting front, and the Bears did that by earning a commitment from in-state product Elijah Bean, a four-star receiver. Bean long seemed to favor the Bears, although SMU, Vanderbilt, Louisiana Tech were among the thirteen offers he had. Bean’s an intriguing prospect who hopes to add potency to Baylor’s offense, a component desperately needed in the Big 12.

February 18, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

One of the raging debates in our Power Rankings is who is better: Kansas or Baylor. Although Baylor, and their road win over Kansas, has the better resume, our ballots reflect a split on who we believe is the more talented team. Those debates could be put to rest when these two powerhouses, undoubtedly the class of the Big 12, square off for one more regular season match-up. For now, our rankings continue to reflect a lot of turmoil, as a tough week from Louisville sent them plummeting, but for the second straight week, four teams got first-place votes. Check out the biggest fallers, risers, and then the full Power Rankings below.

Biggest Risers: Dayton, Maryland

Biggest Faller: Louisville 

Joined the Rankings: Penn State, Kentucky, 

Dropped Out: West Virginia, Seton Hall

Honorable Mention

  • Villanova
  • Penn State
  • Kentucky 

#10 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: 4) 

  • The week before, Louisville slid from the #2 slot to #4 after a shaky home win against lowly Wake Forest. A general feeling that the Cardinals were slipping manifested itself in two ugly losses this past week, losing on the road to a bad Georgia Tech team and then being manhandled by an unranked Clemson team that is just 13-12 on the year. The enormous struggles resulted in a 6-spot slip for Louisville, who hosts Syracuse and UNC this week with a chance to regroup. 

#9 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: 9)

  • Auburn has an amazing ability to win close games, as they demonstrated with yet another overtime victory versus Alabama this week, at the time their third extra-time win in a row. However, the clutch Tigers followed it up with a miserable showing in Missouri, dropping an 85-73 decision that drops Auburn one spot this week. They’re still in second in the ACC and have just three losses, so they stay in the rankings, but they have to watch these blowout road losses. 

#8 – Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: 10)

  • Maryland was a popular pick to be upset by Michigan State last week, but they handled the Spartans en route to their eighth straight victory, leading them to be our co-biggest riser of the week. The Terrapins are cruising, and they could see themselves rising more in the future if they survive a big road test against Ohio State this weekend. 

#7 – Dayton Flyers (Last week: 9)

  • The other biggest riser of the week, Dayton locked down two more wins last week, taking down a shaky UMass team on the road as well as dismantling Rhode Island, the second-place squad in the Atlantic 10, in a game which the Flyers led by double-digits the whole way. That, combined with a couple losses from Top-10 teams boost the Flyers to #7 in this week’s rankings. 

#6 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: 7)

  • FSU beat a decent Syracuse team at home, holding off a valiant comeback from the Orange to stay unbeaten on their home court. The Seminoles are pretty much out of the running for a #1 seed, but a home game versus Louisville gives them a chance to prove themselves once more. They rise up one spot this week, largely due to Louisville’s collapse. 

#5 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: 6)

  • This team refuses to lose, and they tacked on two more impressive victories last week, turning a stiff challenge from New Mexico into a 23-point blowout, and visiting Boise State – a 12-1 team at home – and decimating the Broncos 72-55. They’re the standard in the Mountain West, and it’s not close. This team is for real. 

#4 – Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: 5) – 1 First Place Vote

  • After losing a home contest to Louisville, our podcast spent time discussing whether Duke was in trouble. Since then, Duke has won seven straight including a ranked win over Florida State, a rivalry comeback versus UNC, and two 30+ point victories. Duke had just one game since our last Power Rankings and they manhandled Notre Dame, a team whose last seven losses were by a combined 15 points, by a stunning 94-60 score. This team is looking a serious threat to go all the way. 

#3 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: 3) – 1 First Place Vote

  • As per usual, Gonzaga gets a first-place vote, but they are unable to gain ground on their Power-6 counterparts atop the rankings. The Bulldogs played just one game last week and cruised past a solid Pepperdine squad on the road. It was a good victory, but Gonzaga won’t be able to truly prove their legitimacy until the NCAA Tournament. 

#2 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: 2) – 1 First Place Vote

  • The Bears, despite their 23-1 record and 22-game winning streak, stay at #2. Our ballots were split, with two putting them above Kansas, and two placing them below. They got one first-place vote, as did their Big 12 rival, and ultimately a razor-thin 1-point margin separated the squads. The gap should be more definitive after they play each other this weekend. 

#1 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: 1) -1 First Place Vote

  • Once again, the Jayhawks reign supreme in the power rankings. The rankings are based off how good we think the teams are, not necessarily our resume, and, albeit by a tiny margin, our ballots reflect that Kansas is the better team. After a big road win over West Virginia and blowouts versus Oklahoma and Iowa State, the Jayhawks have a chance to back up that belief and improve on their 23-3 record when they visit Baylor this week.

February 12, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

NOTE: Although this article was published late, these rankings reflect games played through Monday, February 10.

We’re back with this week’s power rankings and we have some major shakeup within our top-10 and honorable mention. Slotting teams into the honorable mention and high single digits slots were tough, as many of these squads took brutal losses in the past week or two. Ultimately, after combining our ballots, we came up with another list of 13 teams, so we will summarize some of the biggest movement here, and then read on for the full rankings (and to see our new #1). 

Biggest Riser: Auburn

Biggest Faller: Oregon

Dropped out: Oregon

Joined the Rankings: West Virginia

Honorable Mention

  • Seton Hall
  • West Virginia
  • Villanova

#10 – Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • Maryland has won seven straight to rejoin the Top-10, both in the AP Poll and in our Power Rankings. The Terrapins are now a 2-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology after an impressive week in which they took down Rutgers and then went on the road to defeat #22 Ilinois.

#9 – Dayton Flyers (Last Week: #8)

  • Dayton suffers from the sad fact that they are the ‘ other’ elite mid-major. With San Diego State stealing the headlines, it’s been tough for Dayton to draw attention to their remarkable season. These Power Rankings were assembled before last night’s impressive win over Rhode Island, so they could still have room to rise. But last week saw Dayton play and win just one game, which isn’t enough to keep their #8 slot. 

#8 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • Our biggest risers of the week, Auburn is once again red-hot after crashing out of our top-10 with consecutive blowout losses. Auburn isn’t dominating, but they are passing the gut-check test after a series of tight victories, including an overtime 91-90 win over #25 LSU this past weekend.

#7 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: #5)

  • The Seminoles lose to Duke, and so they slip behind them in the power rankings. Two games out of the conference lead, Florida State is virtually out of the regular season title chase, but they still can beat Louisville at home to help their chances for a top-2 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

#6 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: #6)

  • In their third straight week at #6, San Diego State continues to play excellent basketball, but it also is coming against less-than-excellent teams, so our ballots still reflect our general distrust of the Aztecs. Their only game last week was a road contest at a sub .500 squad in Air Force, making it very difficult to climb at all in this week’s rankings, even as they are 24-0. 

#5 – Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: #7)

  • Duke escaped disaster against BC, engineered an incredibly gutsy comeback at UNC, and then earned a statement victory over #8 Florida State to cap off an impressive three-game stretch. Their winning streak is at six, and the Blue Devils hope they’re not out of the hunt for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament just yet. 

#4 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: #2) – 1 First Place Vote

  • The top of our ballots differed incredibly, as all of us have different opinions on who the best team in college basketball. Louisville gets a first place vote, but they ultimately drop two spots after needing a huge comeback to beat Wake Forest at home. After escaping Georgia Tech, it was their second close-call win at home in two weeks. They’re walking a tight-rope, but they’ve also won ten straight so they slot in at #4. 

#3 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: #4) – 1 First Place Vote

  • For some people, including AP voters, Gonzaga is the best team in the country. Not all of us feel that way evidently, but they do rise a spot in this week’s rankings. Why? Well, Gonzaga travelled to St. Marys to face the consensus second-best team in the West Coast Conference and beat them by thirty points. Especially with a weak conference schedule, wins don’t get much more impressive than that for the Bulldogs. 

#2 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: #1) – 1 First Place Vote

  • It’s probably our most controversial ranking. But Baylor has won three straight games by single digits over unranked teams, and they’ve displayed some of the red flags that had us concerned about the Bears in the early going. These red flags included scoring just 52 points in a recent game at Texas and needing to go down to the wire at home to beat Oklahoma State, who are 2-9 in Big 12 play. They’re still an elite team, but these close calls aren’t inspiring confidence. 

#1 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: #3) – 1 First Place Vote

  • Each of our ballots reflected a different team that we felt was #1, but Kansas was the only team that was Top-3 in each of our ballots. They beat Oklahoma State by 15 on the road, handled Texas by double digits, and they’ve won eight straight since losing to Baylor. Yes the head-to-head loss makes this ranking difficult, but overall, the Jayhawks just feel like the closest thing to a sure thing in a year where turmoil has reigned supreme.

February 4, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

We are back with this week’s edition of the NCAA basketball power rankings. Auburn got a huge home win to get back into the conversation, and one other squad climbed back towards the rankings. Two teams dropped out, and while we have the same #1, there was some movement right beneath them. Check out the full rankings here!

Biggest Risers: Dayton, Louisville

Biggest Fallers: Kentucky

Dropped Out: Kentucky, West Virginia

Joined the Rankings: Auburn, Maryland

Honorable Mention

  • Seton Hall
  • Maryland
  • Auburn

The Rankings

#10 – Villanova Wildcats (Last Week: #8)

  • The Wildcats were looking like one of the biggest risers in college basketball, a few games seperated from a 76-61 beatdown of a ranked Butler squad, but then Villanova played an unranked Creighton squad and got throttled by the same score. They stay in the rankings due to how they’ve looked up until that game, but Villanova raised some serious question marks on Saturday. 

#9 – Oregon Ducks (Last Week: #9) 

  • Oregon has stayed at #9 for the past three weeks, and the Ducks had inspired a lot of confidence until their recent slip-up at Stanford. However, one road conference loss can be excused, and the Ducks still appear to be the Pac-12 team to beat. 

#8 – Dayton Flyers (Last Week: #10)

  • Dayton rises two spots after two more victories, surviving one of their toughest road games remaining against Duquesne, a 16-5 team with a previously spotless 9-0 home record. They host dangerous Saint Louis and Rhode Island squads in the next week, so they’ll need to prove themselves to keep rising in the rankings. 

#7- Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: #7)

  • Duke survived a raucous environment to triumph at Syracuse, winning their third straight game since a home loss to Louisville. They have road games versus Boston College and UNC coming up before a home date with Florida State. If they’re looking for a chance to prove they’re one of the country’s elite squads, they’ve got a few opportunities coming up. 

#6 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: #6)

  • In writing about potential trap games for the Aztecs, we identified a tricky-looking road matchup versus New Mexico, who was 13-0 at home prior to the match-up. San Diego State marched into the game and dismantled the Lobos by 28 points, sending yet another notice to the country that they are for real. They survived a potential letdown by pulling away from Utah State. 

#5 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: #5)

  • There were mixed reviews among our ballots on how to rank the Seminoles after a close loss to Virginia and tight win over North Carolina, largely because it is difficult to tell exactly how good those teams are. Virginia is starting to round into form and North Carolina just got Cole Anthony back, yet both squads are tournament bubble teams at best. Either way, the Seminoles are still 19-3 and 2nd in the ACC, so they stay at #5 this week. 

#4 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: #3) – 1 first place vote

  • Gonzaga deals with questions year-in and year-out about how valid their success is, as they play in the West Coast conference. They didn’t do much to quiet their doubters after needing a go-ahead three-pointer with under five seconds remaining to survive San Francisco. Without signature wins available on the remainder of their schedule, such close calls drop the Bulldogs in the rankings. 

#3 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: #2) 

  • Kansas continues to win, although they’ve had to survive a few stiff challenges. The Jayhawks certainly have a few tough Big 12 games ahead, but there is no doubt they’ve circled the February 22nd rematch with the Baylor Bears. A win there could make Kansas the team to beat.

#2 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: #4)

  • One of our biggest risers of the week, the Cardinals continue to win convincingly, having won three straight ACC contests by at least 17 points, including two games on the road. Both BC and NC State gave them a push, but the Cardinals continue to put together full 40-minute efforts. 

#1 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: #1)

  • Baylor raised some eyebrows after escaping Oklahoma at home, but they’ve since made short work of Florida, Iowa State, and TCU, winning all three games by double-digits. They are 20-1 and on a 19-game winning streak, one game shy of the longest winning streak in the history of all Big 12 teams, and they are slowly strengthening their hold on the #1 spot in the rankings.

January 28, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

We are back with the third edition of our power rankings, and while the top of our rankings stayed largely the same, there was some significant movers. We highlighted the major movers here, but be sure to check out the full top 10 (and honorable mention) below!

Biggest Riser: Villanova

Biggest Faller: Michigan State

Dropped Out: Michigan State

Joined The Ranks: Villanova, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Dayton

Honorable Mention 

  • West Virginia (Last week: Not ranked)
  • Seton Hall (Last week: Not ranked)
  • Kentucky (Last week: Honorable Mention)

#10 – Dayton Flyers (Last Week: Not Ranked)

  • The Flyers appeared on just one of our ballots last week, but they got the nod in three of four ballots this week, after they dismantled St. Bonaventures and took down a solid Richmond squad on the road. An under-the-radar mid-major due to the success of San Diego State, the Flyers have their eyes on the Atlantic 10 title and an NCAA tournament run. 

#9 – Oregon Ducks (Last Week: 9)

  • Oregon choked up a late lead before surviving in overtime against USC, and they followed that up with a dominant victory over a struggling UCLA squad. We didn’t learn too much about the Ducks, as we already knew they were extremely good at home (12-0) so the Ducks tread water at #9 until further notice. 

#8 – Villanova Wildcats (Last Week: Not Ranked)

  • The Wildcats shot up our rankings, after being little more than an afterthought on last week’s ballots. Villanova looked absolutely dominant in beating #16 Butler by 15 points, and they edged out Providence for a key road conference win to secure their sixth straight win. They are our biggest risers of the week, joining the rankings for the first time this year at #8. 
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

#7 – Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: 5)

  • The Blue Devils drop due very little to their own doings. They played one game against a horrendous Miami team and won handily, but their elite ACC competition had more wins against better competition, and so Duke slides two more spots to #7 this week. 

#6 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: 7)

  • The Aztecs continue to win and continue to climb. In a prior mid-major report, we identified their road game at New Mexico as a potential trap game. The Lobos have struggled recently, but they are 13-0 at home, so whether the Aztecs continue their climb up the rankings remains to be seen. 

#5 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: 6)

  • There are two ways to look at Florida State’s lone game and win of the week – an 85-84 thriller over Notre Dame. One is a really close game against a below-average ACC squad. The other way is a gutsy finish against a resilient team that plays everyone close. We tended to side with the latter, as the Seminoles won their twelfth straight to move up a notch on the ladder. 
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

#4 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: 4) – 1 First Place Vote

  • The ACC-leaders looked shaky in holding off Georgia Tech before rebounding with one of their most complete performances of the year against Clemson. The Cardinals utilized a 20-0 run to seize control and dominated the upstart Tigers for their sixth straight victory. They are holding off Florida State, but they’ll need to keep winning if they want the top seed in the ACC tournament because the Seminoles aren’t backing down. 

#3 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: 1) – 1 First Place Vote

  • Gonzaga slid in the AP Poll out of the #1 slot, and they slide here, largely due to their weak schedule. It’s hard to make a statement when you beat every team in your conference by 20 or 30 points, and that’s exactly Gonzaga’s issue currently. Whereas other top teams are winning huge statement games, the Bulldogs are cruising through the West Coast conference, beating up on a cupcake schedule. 

#2 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: #3) 

  • The Jayhawks haven’t lost since their home defeat to Baylor, but they’ll play second-fiddle to the Bears in these rankings. They showed flashes of brilliance in putting away Tennessee, and they sandwiched that outing with dominant performances versus Kansas State and Oklahoma State. They’re a legitimate national title contender. 

#1 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: #2) – 2 First Place Votes

  • Baylor shut down a lot of haters with a dominant performance at an unranked Florida team. The #1 team in the nation, the Bears entered the game as 2-point underdogs. They played with a chip on their shoulder and stifled the Gators to the tune of a 72-61 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. With 15 straight wins, the Bears finally rise to the top of our Power Rankings.

Big 12/SEC Challenge Recaps and Takeaways

Conference challenges are great for college sports. They’re engaging and create high-quality matchups and games. The Big 12/SEC challenge was no exception on Saturday with the conferences splitting ten games with five wins apiece, as the Big 12 salvaged the draw via Baylor’s statement victory over Florida to end the day. Here’s a game by game look at the action and takeaways. 

Auburn 80 Iowa State 76 

The recap: Auburn was up 78-74, having watched a large lead slip away, and Iowa State had a wide open look for three from the corner. The Cyclones missed the shot, and Auburn secured the rebound and ultimately hung on. It was a less than inspiring finish to an otherwise solid game from the Tigers who have won two straight following their 2-game skid. 

The Takeaway: Auburn is not a national title contender. The Tigers continue to struggle against inferior competition. Their wins against South Carolina and Iowa State have not inspired much confidence following a horrific two-game stretch against Florida and Alabama. 

West Virginia 74 Missouri 51

 The Recap: One of the few yawners in this challenge, the #14 Mountaineers grinded their way through a sluggish first half before lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 50 points in the second half to pull away for the dominant victory, improving to 10-0 at home. 

The Takeaway: West Virginia is clearly a Big 12 contender: In our initial roundtable, I picked West Virginia to win the Big 12. It was a shot in the dark, but the Mountaineers are making me look good, turning in a strong performance today and looking like the clear third best team behind Kansas and Baylor. 

LSU 69 Texas 67

The Recap: In a thrilling matchup of unranked teams, LSU built a large halftime advantage and held off a furious Texas rally. The lead changed hands several times in the final minutes, but the Tigers ultimately finished the job on the road, improving to 15-4. 

The Takeaway: LSU are road warriors: The Tigers are now 4-1 on the road, and that could bode well for LSU when it comes time to leave the comforts of their own court and play some elimination games on neutral courts in March. 

Oklahoma 63 Mississippi State 62

The Recap: Oklahoma leaned on a big day from Brady Manek, who dropped 18 points, to hold off the Bulldogs in a game that was tight all the way through. Mississippi State was plagued by poor shooting, and they ultimately could not make one more shot to push them over the edge on the road. 

The Takeaway: Mississippi State needs a secondary scorer: On a day when Oklahoma honed in on the Bulldog’s primary scorer in Reggie Perry, the Bulldogs could not find an answer, putting up a poor offensive performance. Their defense performed extremely well, and it should have been enough for a key road win, but Mississippi State proved themselves to be overly reliant on one man.  

Arkansas 78 TCU 67

The Recap: Arkansas continued their dominance at home, improving to 11-1 on their court with an easy win over the Horned Frogs. Desi Sills poured in 18 for the Razorbacks and Arkansas claimed a relatively easy victory for the SEC. 

The Takeaway: Kevin Samuel is an extremely impressive player: All due respect to Arkansas, but I pretty much knew that they were extremely good at home and average on the road. So my biggest takeaway is TCU’s Kevin Samuel. The man put the Horned Frogs on his back on Saturday, and although he couldn’t single-handedly take down the Sooners, he put up 24 points and collected 18 rebounds. If TCU can find some help for Samuel, they could make some noise. 

Kansas 74 Tennessee 68

The Recap: Devon Dotson put up 22 points, and Udoka Azubuike battled through foul trouble, scoring 18 and grabbing 11 rebounds. Tennessee pushed hard on the road, but ultimately the Jayhawks never surrendered their advantage and edged the Volunteers. 

The Takeaway: Kansas still needs to find their identity. I believe the Jayhawks are a title contender, but they need to figure out who they are, especially on offense. The Jayhawks looked lost at times without Azubuike on the floor. When he was there, they clicked, driving in the paint, finding Azubuike for a bevy of dunks and layups, or kicking out for open 3s. Without him on the floor, Kansas seemed to have no system, taking bad shots, turning the ball over and generally looking lost with the ball in their hands. 

Oklahoma State 73 Texas A&M 62

The Recap: Oklahoma State flashed their balance, as their leading scorer posted just 13 points on the day, but the Cowboys looked much better than the Aggies in both halves and steadily pulled away for an easy victory. 

The Takeaway: Neither team is making a run this year. This was a somewhat close game, but it was a relatively boring battle between two average squads featuring very few stars with mediocre verging on below-average offenses. Neither of these two teams looked like a tournament team to me, and overall, it was one of the most boring games of the challenge. 

Alabama 77 Kansas State 74

The Recap: Alabama had all five starters score in double-digits, highlighted by Kira Lewis Jr. and his 26 points, and the Crimson Tide squeaked past the Wildcats 77-74 in a game that was tight all the way.

The Takeaway: Alabama is a basketball school. Well, not really, but I think this is the best basketball team out of Tuscaloosa in a long time, and with a stud in Lewis and a solid supporting cast, I could see the Crimson Tide making a decent run in a few months. 

Kentucky 76 Texas Tech 74

The Recap: A thriller from start to finish, Kentucky avoided disappointment after giving away their late lead to edge the Red Raiders in Lubbard in overtime. It was a huge win for the Wildcats who are looking to move past the inconsistencies that have plagued them this year. 

The Takeaway: This was the turning point in Kentucky’s season. The Wildcats are an extremely talented group that have lost several games they had no business losing. But if any game can get them to start playing consistently, it is an emotional overtime victory in an electric atmosphere against a Top-20 opponent. The Wildcats impressed me, and I think they’ll start to look like the Kentucky we’re used to seeing in the coming weeks. 

Baylor 72 Florida 61

The Recap: Baylor ended the first half on a 13-2 run to claim a comfortable 11-point halftime advantage. They pushed the lead out to 17 points in the second half and never let the Gators make a serious comeback threat, throttling Florida on the road. 

The Takeaway: I was wrong about Baylor. I picked Florida to win this game. Baylor had looked a little weak in recent games, and I really liked the way Florida was playing. But this game was never close in the second half, and the Bears simply outclassed the Gators in every phase of the game on Saturday to claim a big win for their program and the Big 12, as the victory salvaged the split with the SEC in the challenge.

Big 12 Status Report: Baylor or Kansas On Top?

Baylor is the #1 team in the nation, and they’re on a 15-game winning streak. Yet I still don’t think they’re winning their conference. Their style of play, to me, is not a sustainable formula for winning in March. They play a lot of close, defensive games, and that will be a tough approach to winning games when the lights shine the brightest. I still believe Kansas is the odds-on favorite to win the Big 12, while Baylor and West Virginia are right outside the picture and looking up at the Jayhawks. Here are this week’s biggest risers and fallers.

Biggest Risers: Oklahoma

  • This may be a slightly odd pick for the biggest riser, but I picked the Sooners for a very specific reason; I believe the Big 12 has a clear top four in the conference between the Jayhawks, Baylor, West Virginia, and Texas Tech. I think Oklahoma is the next best team, and I believe the Sooners did a good job of separating themselves from some of the other wannabes in the Big 12. They dominated TCU and then went on the road and nearly knocked off #1 Baylor. While they fell short in the latter game, Oklahoma, I think, showed themselves to be very clearly the next best team in the Big 12.

Biggest Fallers: Texas, Oklahoma State

  • Texas lost a winnable game at home to Kansas, and they followed up that disappointment by being obliterated by West Virginia. They showed both an inability to close out big games, and their continued proclivity for being run out of the building – their 38-point loss to the Mountaineers was their fourth by 15+ points. The Longhorns have really played themselves out of the Big 12 picture. They’ll need a small miracle to even be considered on Selection Sunday.
  • Oklahoma State is in a similar position to Texas. Entering conference play at 9-3, the Cowboys are now 9-9 with an ugly 0-6 conference mark. They’ve lost four of those games by double digits, and they have shown very little ability to win on the road or at home against conference opponents. I believe their 12-point loss to Texas at home was a true statement about where this team stands in the national and conference picture – they are not close to contention, and they won’t be this year.

Quick Hits

  • While the Big 12 has some top tier talent, I believe they have very little depth in the conference. I’m only confident in four teams making it to the Dance – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, and Texas Tech.
  • Picking bubble teams is tough in this conference, but I’ll go with Oklahoma, Iowa State, and TCU, although I would not lay money down on those teams making it right now.
  • I’m declaring 3 Big 12 teams done, as I simply don’t see a path to the tournament – beyond an unlikely conference championship – for Texas, Oklahoma State, or Kansas State.

Biggest Upcoming Games (BIG 12/SEC CHALLENGE)

  • #1 Baylor @ Florida
  • TCU @ Arkansas
  • Tennessee @ #3 Kansas

January 21, 2020: NCAA Women’s Basketball Power Rankings

There was a lot of chalk this week in women’s college basketball, but there were also a couple of really high-profile games and results that shifted the Power Rankings a little bit. One new team entered (welcome NC State), and one team dropped from the top 10 into the honorable mentions. Ultimately, the 15 teams mentioned stayed the same as no monumental upsets occurred. 

Honorable Mention

  • Arkansas
  • Tennessee
  • UCLA
  • Mississippi State
  • Maryland

10 – Arizona State (Last Week: 9)

  • The Sun Devils drop one spot largely due to circumstances out of their control. They had two wins by double digits over the weekend, beating Washington and Washington State, both on the road. They continue to, in my opinion, be undervalued by the polls, ranked 16th as of this writing, but they do drop one spot due to the performance of the teams surrounding them in the rankings. 

9 – NC State (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • I excluded the Wolfpack – currently ranked 8th – from the Top 10 last week, and they shamed me into including them this week, as they rolled through 2 ACC games, including a 17-point win over #14 Florida State. I’m not necessarily convinced this team is a Final Four threat, but 17-1 is 17-1, so the Wolfpack slot in at #9 here. 

8 – DePaul (Last Week: 10)

  • DePaul finally rose a little bit, from 14th to 11th, in the rankings this week, but I continue to value them a little bit higher. This team has been very impressive, especially offensively. They dominated two Big East road games this week, defeating Xavier by 23, and Butler by 15. It’s been over a month since they gave up more than 71 points, and almost 2 months since they scored less than 74. They are 17-2 and lead the Big East, so definitely watch out for this team. 

7- Oregon State (Last Week: 5)

  • It’s hard to penalize the Cowboys too much for a brutally close road loss to an elite Stanford team, as their game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer. They are just 2-2 against ranked teams, with losses in two of their past three games overall, so a home and home set against Oregon should reveal something about this team, and whether they’re truly going to be capable of a deep run come March. 
 Andy Cripe, Mid-Valley Media

6 –  Stanford (Last week: 3)

  • Yes, Stanford’s only loss was to Oregon…but they lost by 32 points. That’s unacceptable no matter what, especially as a Top-5 team. They were completely dominated in the second half and put together an all-around putrid performance. The Cardinal rebounded with a solid road victory of Oregon State, and they’ll get a couple of home games this week to prep for a road trip followed by a showdown with UCLA. 

5 – UConn (Last Week: 6)

  • It’s honestly still difficult to figure out where this team slots into the national picture. After being outclassed by Baylor, the Huskies haven’t lost, but they haven’t really played a tough game. Conference opponents Memphis and UCF played UConn close, but the Huskies have also blown out Houston and Tulsa, by 40+ points each. They host Tennessee on Thursday, which should give a little bit of a clear idea of where this team stands right now, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest betting against the Huskies and their history of success. 

4- Louisville (Last Week: 4)

  • This may have been my toughest ranking of the week, as Louisville put together two solid road performances, including a win over UNC who was 9-1 at home. However, the lack of ranked opponents, given their competititon’s achievements kept the Cardinals slotted in at #4 this week. They have just two ranked opponents  – Florida State and NC State – left on their schedule, which will likely reveal how tournament-ready Louisville is. 
SABRINA IONESCU – Oregon Athletics

3 – Oregon (Last Week: 7)

  • “They still have a deep tourney run in them, but they’ll have to win the games they’re supposed to.” That was my direct quote analyzing Oregon’s standing after last week, and the Ducks responded to my challenge – well probably not my challenge specifically, but they improved their play drastically. Hosting Stanford, who was #3 at the time, Oregon blew their Pac-12 rival out of the water, turning a slim halftime advantage into a second-half laugher. Thoughts of a letdown game were quickly squashed, as Oregon beat Cal by 50 points. Cal isn’t a powerhouse, but a 50-point conference win is really good. The Ducks are back, but they’ll have a chance to prove themselves again with two games versus Oregon State this weekend. 

2 –   South Carolina (Last Week: 2)

  • I still disagree with the AP Poll, which has the Gamecocks ranked 1st. South Carolina has no doubt been impressive, especially with their dominant start to SEC play, but I don’t see them as the top team in the country right now. They did add to their resume with a top-10 win over Mississippi State, but I’ll need further convincing to move the Gamecocks up the final rung of this ladder. 

1 – Baylor (Last Week: 1)

  • South Carolina’s ranking at #2 has more do with what Baylor is doing than what South Carolina isn’t doing. The Bears look to be on cruise control right now, and if you don’t believe me, ask the rest of the Big 12. Baylor has won three straight conference games by at least 40 points. And not over scrubs either: The Bears have victimized Oklahoma State (11-6), Kansas (12-4), and #17 West Virginia (13-3). It’s been an unprecedented stretch of dominance by Baylor, and they sit at #1 until their performance indicates reason for change.