Baylor getting more credit in league race, but Jayhawks still projected to win Big 12
After back-to-back Big 12 road wins, Kansas fans might feel more optimistic about the program compared to just a week ago.
This time last week, KU was coming off a rare home loss to Baylor. It allowed the Bears to leapfrog the Jayhawks in the AP poll. Baylor is now the new No. 1 team in this week’s poll, becoming the seventh squad to earn a No. 1 ranking this season. It matches a record for number of different No. 1 teams in a season with the 1982-83 campaign.
So Baylor should now be the team to beat in the Big 12, right? There is certainly an argument that the Bears are the favorite to win the league. But No. 3 Kansas is firmly in the thick of this race, and the computer models support that assertion.
As we found out last week, KU is still projected to win the conference by most computer systems. The only real difference is that Baylor is getting more credit this week. Let's take a look at the updated conference projections after the first five games of the Big 12 slate.
Following a five-game opening stretch, which included BU beating KU by 12 points, the two teams are still both projected to finish 14-4 in league play on KenPom.com.
KenPom’s updated projected Big 12 standings for 2020
Kansas — 14-4 (14-4 before the season)
Baylor — 14-4 (11-7)
West Virginia — 12-6 (11-7)
Texas Tech — 10-8 (9-9)
Oklahoma — 8-10 (8-10)
TCU — 8-10 (8-10)
Texas — 7-11 (7-11)
Iowa State — 6-12 (7-11)
Kansas State — 5-13 (6-12)
Oklahoma State — 5-13 (9-9)
Not much has changed here since last week, but it is worth noting that KenPom now projects four teams to finish with double-digit conference wins. Texas Tech now has a projected clip of 10-8, which is up from its 9-9 record just a week ago.
At least four squads have won double-digit games in league play every season since the Big 12 went to 10 teams. Still, the margin of error might be smaller for the elite teams this year — if the conference isn’t as deep as previous seasons.
While KenPom currently projects a share, KU is still the favorite on TeamRankings.com, which gives the Jayhawks a 53.5% chance of winning the league. That mark is actually up from last week’s clip of 53%.
Baylor now has a 42.2% chance of winning the conference after having a 38.1% chance last week. West Virginia is down to 2.9% after being at 6.7% just seven days ago.
Bart Torvik, of barttorvik.com, is now projecting a share between Baylor and Kansas with both teams posting a 15-3 record. For comparison, KU was projected to win the conference outright by one game this time last week. Torvik also has West Virginia finishing third with a 12-6 clip and Texas Tech coming in fourth with a 10-8 record against league opponents.
It is interesting that the computers believe the race is actually closer this week, rather than right after Baylor earned its first-ever win in Allen Fieldhouse. But Baylor escaping Oklahoma State with a 75-68 win on Saturday is an example of how quickly all of this can change.
Kansas has a favorable stretch ahead, so avoiding a letdown is crucial in its quest to reclaim the Big 12 throne. Three of KU’s next four league games will take place in Allen Fieldhouse, with the lone road contest being against Oklahoma State. According to KenPom, Kansas has at least an 82% chance of victory in each of those four games.
Big 12 men’s basketball standings (as of Jan. 20)
Team Overall (Big 12)
Baylor — 15-1 (5-0)
Kansas — 14-3 (4-1)
West Virginia — 14-3 (3-2)
Oklahoma — 12-5 (3-2)
TCU — 12-5 (3-2)
Texas Tech — 12-5 (3-2)
Texas — 12-5 (2-3)
Iowa State — 8-9 (1-4)
Kansas State — 8-9 (1-4)
Oklahoma State — 9-8 (0-5)