Once considered a football dominant conference, no questions asked, the Big 12 is gaining more and more national prominence on the hardwood these days. And the women are a prime contributor to this evolutional movement.
Our three Kansas City-area Big 12 schools are a big reason why the conference continues to get stronger national recognition in the sport of basketball.
Using this week’s national college basketball rankings as a snapshot to illustrate my point, five men’s teams in the conference are ranked in the most recent USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches’ poll. Three of those teams – Kansas (7-0), Kansas State (7-1), and Baylor (6-0) – were among the top 10 teams in America to begin this week. Missouri (6-1) is just outside the top 10 at No. 11, and Texas is 20th.
When Missouri broke into the top 10 last week (at No. 9), it may have be the first time in history that all three Kansas City-area Big 12 schools (Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri) were ranked in the top 10 nationally at the same time. The Tigers dropped two spots this week after losing to then 14th-ranked Georgetown a week ago in a controversial overtime game. When all three were ranked in the top 25 preseason polls, it was the first time since Harry Truman was president that all three teams were ranked that high at the same time.
This season also marks the first time in quite a while that someone other than the Kansas Jayhawks was the highest-rated conference team to start the season. Kansas State, picked by the Big 12 coaches in their annual preseason poll as the favorite to capture the conference crown this year, began the season ranked third in the country in the major college preseason polls.
The Big 12’s national standing in basketball is even more pronounced on the women’s side of the court. The conference finished the year last season with Oklahoma and Baylor among the final four teams in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, and so far this season six Big 12 teams (half of the teams in the conference) are ranked in the top 25 in the most recent USA Today/ESPN college poll.
The Baylor Lady Bears (9-1), who came within a whisper of upsetting top-ranked Connecticut several weeks ago on the Huskies’ home court, is the highest ranked Big 12 team on the women’s side at No. 3 nationally. Texas A&M is currently 8th; Oklahoma, 11th; Iowa State, 15th; defending Big 12 champion Nebraska, 22nd, and Texas, 24th.
And two more Big 12 women’s teams are just outside of the top 25 ranking for this week. Oklahoma State is 27th and Kansas 30th.
All of this adds up to what should be another thrilling and highly competitive season of Big 12 basketball. And the country’s best competition may be within the conference itself.
For more information:
Big 12 Conference official website
More Big 12 sports news and commentary
Kansas City-area sports news