I read somewhere you should blog three or four times a week to build a following. Once every three weeks probably isn’t going to cut it. My apologies to the six people who actually do read it.
Now, on to the Big 12, the best conference in college basketball (yes, better than the Big Overrated East). We’re barely a week into the season and only one team hasn’t lost a game.
Below are my rankings through week one. Many factors are weighed, including what the teams did in the first week and where I expect them to finish the season. The plus/minus? Pretty simple. A plus-one for a road win, and a minus-one for a home loss.
1. Kansas (16-1, 2-0, +1): Until the Jayhawks lose, they’re on top. Going into the conference season, I liked Texas. After watching the Longhorns Saturday and Monday, I think Kansas will win the conference. There are concerns, though. When is Cole Aldrich going to wake up? And when will Sherron Collins realize he shouldn’t shoot 20 times a game? Projection through week one: 27-4, 13-3.
2. Kansas State (16-2, 3-1, +1): Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente combined to go 4-of-24 against Texas. The Wildcats hit just one 3-pointer in that game … and they still handled the Longhorns. There shouldn’t be any doubts about this team anymore. It’s for real. And the schedule the rest of the way gives K-State a great shot at winning the conference. Projection: 25-5, 12-4.
3. Texas (17-1, 3-1, +1): Losing at Kansas State doesn’t hurt too much because the Wildcats are pretty darn good. But playing poorly does, as does the near-miss at home against Texas A&M. Texas did not play as a team Monday and has struggled a bit in conference games. Still, Texas is loaded with talent and will content for the title. Projection: 27-4, 12-4.
4. Baylor (14-2, 2-1, even): Definitely the pick most likely to be wrong. Epke Udoh has made a world of difference for this team on defense, but losing to Colorado can’t be a good sign, even if it was a road game. The Bears get K-State and Missouri at home, which may end up making the difference between finishing fourth and seventh. Projection: 23-7, 10-6.
5. Missouri (14-4, 2-1, +1): Saturday’s loss had to sting. The Tigers led 10-0, 28-20 and 46-40 with about nine minutes left and didn’t finish. You’ve got to capitalize on your opportunities to win on the road, and this one may come back to haunt Mizzou. Back-to-back road wins would have been a boon for this young team. Still say this team is a year away, but the Tigers should be in the hunt for another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Projection: 21-10, 9-7.
6. Texas A&M (12-5, 1-2, even): That the Aggies had Texas beat and did it despite the loss of Derrick Roland was impressive. But chalk it up as a missed opportunity to register a signature win. The Aggies’ schedule against North teams is brutal, with a home game left against Kansas and road trips to Missouri and Iowa State. Projection: 18-12, 7-9.
7. Oklahoma State (13-4, 1-2, even): The Cowboys caught a bad break when James Anderson suffered a head injury in the second half against Oklahoma. OSU was on its way to a solid road win when he got hurt. Remaining road games with Texas, Kansas State and Missouri, plus a home game against Kansas, will make it tough for OSU to finish in the upper half. Projection: 19-11, 7-9.
8. Iowa State (12-5, 1-1, even): Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap make ISU a sleeper. The Cyclones gave Texas all it could handle at home and got a nice road win against Nebraska. This week is a big one with a road game against struggling Texas Tech and a home game against Kansas. Projection: 17-14, 6-10.
9. Oklahoma (11-6, 2-1, even): Give the Sooners credit for salvaging their season with a couple of gritty wins at home against Oklahoma State and Missouri. But I’m still not buying what this team is selling. If Willie Warren develops into a leader and the Sooners keep playing sound defense, they could finish .500 in the conference. Projection: 15-15, 6-10.
10. Colorado (10-7, 1-2, -1): The Buffaloes are vastly improved, but they’ve still got a long way to go. They had their chances at a second straight big win at home against Kansas State on Saturday but couldn’t get over the hump. Solid win over Baylor, but back-to-back road games against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M should put Colorado in a 1-4 hole. Projection: 14-16, 5-11.
11. Texas Tech (12-5, 0-3): The fact that this team was ranked shows you just how ridiculous early-season rankings are. The Red Raiders got a lot of love after beating Washington at home. That Washington team is now 12-5 (3-3 in the pedestrian Pac-10) with a home loss to Oregon and a blowout loss against a bad Arizona team. Projection: 17-13, 5-11.
12. Nebraska (12-6, 0-3, -2): Doc Sadler is good coach, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with. Losing at home to Iowa State on Saturday was a bad sign. The Cornhuskers will be battling to stay out of the basement all season. Projection: 16-15, 4-12.