Eric Bailey's Big 12 insider
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
2/26/13 at 6:15 AM
Kansas: Heading into Monday's dangerous game at Iowa State, the Jayhawks had reversed a three-game losing streak with four consecutive victories. The road ends with winnable home contests against West Virginia and Texas Tech before a final road trip to Baylor.
Kansas State: Keep an eye on the Wildcats down the stretch. K-State has veteran leadership and a coach in Bruce Weber that knows all about March basketball. K-State's success can be attributed to its ability to take care of the ball (19th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio) and scoring defense (32nd nationally).
Baylor: The Bears have dropped six of eight games and currently are riding their second three-game losing streak in a month's time. Their only win over a league school in the upper-tier of the standings came in a Jan. 21 home victory against OSU.
Down the stretch they come: The top five teams in the Big 12 standings are separated by two games.
Parity is the word in the 10-school league, with half of the 70 games played heading into Monday decided by 10 points or less.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was asked the difference between the Big 12 and the Big East, where his team competed last season.
"The Big East was so much bigger (with 16 teams)," Huggins said. "There were nine or 10 teams that were very, very close and some others that weren't ... because of the true round robin that we play in this league that's there's no question it's a lot closer."
Long road: Huggins also was asked during a Monday teleconference about his program's biggest challenges in the move to the Big 12.
"The power forwards in the Big 12 are more 3-4s than they are 4-5s like they are in the Big East," Huggins said. "They bounce it a lot better. In some cases, people run a lot of offense through them which wasn't the case (last year).
"It'll take about a year for us to figure out the travel situation ... in some cases (travel is) two hours further than we did before and in another time zone."
Bubble watch: Perhaps the first hint that Baylor basketball was going to have a tough season was when former Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik led his new College of Charleston team to a 63-59 win in Waco last November.
At 16-11 and with an NCAA RPI of 64, the Bears may be sliding off the bubble. Does Scott Drew think his players are monitoring the March Madness talk right now?
"Basketball players are going to watch basketball," Drew said. "They are watching SportsCenter and are going to see the constant updates ... we can't be so uptight and so wound up that all the sudden you aren't able to perform at your best."
Rolling down the RPIs: The NCAA released its weekly RPI ratings on Monday.
A rundown of the Big 12 teams with their respective RPIs - Kansas (No. 5), Oklahoma (19), Kansas State (21), Oklahoma State (26), Iowa State (50), Baylor (64), West Virginia (108), Texas (144), Texas Tech (225) and TCU (229).
Weekly honors: Kansas senior Jeff Withey and Texas Tech freshman Josh Gray were named the league's player and rookie of the week, respectively, on Monday.
Withey (7-0, 235) was honored for the second consecutive week and third time this year. He averaged 17.5 points and 10 rebounds in victories at Oklahoma State and against TCU. He had seven blocked shots last week to increase his Big 12 record to 272.
Gray (6-1, 175) averaged 23 points, 4.5 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals last week. He was the first Red Raider freshman to have back-to-back 20-point games (26 against Oklahoma, 20 at Iowa State) in the Big 12 era.
(Before Monday games)
1. Kansas: Chew on this: KU has won at least 23 games for 24 consecutive seasons and in 29 of the last 30 years.
2. Oklahoma State: Phil Forte has only had three turnovers in his last 10 games. He's had multiple turnovers only once this year.
3. Kansas State: Frank Martin was an outstanding coach, but Bruce Weber appears to be taking the Wildcats to new heights.
4. Oklahoma: After going 6-25 in road games in the two previous seasons, OU has won eight contests away from home this year.
5. Iowa State: The Cyclones entered Monday's game versus KU with a solid template - winning at home (7-0). But they need to win league games on the road (2-5).
6. Baylor: The Bears are battling Texas for the Big 12's most disappointing team this year. A No. 2 league preseason pick, Baylor enters Wednesday with a 7-7 mark.
7. West Virginia: Bob Huggins is one victory from tying Ray Meyer for 18th place (724 wins) on the Division I all-time victory list.
8. Texas: Three of the Longhorns' four conference wins have come against Texas Tech and TCU.
9. Texas Tech: The ride to Lubbock will be a difficult one; it appeared the team would be snowed in following Monday's game at Kansas State.
10. TCU: The Horned Frogs' average margin of defeat is 18.2 points through 13 losses.
GAME OF THE WEEK
OSU at TCU, 6 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU-253
A very light Big 12 Conference week helps propel this one to the game of the week. Even then, it normally wouldn't be a contest to watch, but TCU is nearing a sellout for this contest. The last time Daniel-Meyer Coliseum was full, the Horned Frogs upset Kansas 62-55 on Feb. 6. OSU will have to keep its focus in this one.