Big 12 basketball: Sooners soaring
Don’t look now, but Jeff Capel is coaching the heck out of his basketball team. I was critical of Capel’s administration in a column 10 days ago, and those concerns remain legitimate. But Capel is getting the most out of the Sooners.
OU’s 82-76 overtime victory at Iowa State on Saturday night gave the Sooners a three-game winning streak and a tie for fifth in the Big 12 standings. The Sooners won’t stay there long; the Big 12 seems to have a fairly easily-discerned divide between the top six and bottom six, which the schedule eventually will shake out.
But whereas the Sooners seemed destined for 11th or 12th place only two weeks ago, OU now seems capable of contending for eighth or even seventh place, which would be a fantastic finish in this season of near-historic rebuilding.
Anyway, here are the weekly Big 12 rankings, based on schedule. A plus point for road victories, a minus point for home losses.
1. Texas +3 (6-0): Some say the Longhorns aren’t as talented as Rick Barnes’ T.J. Ford/LaMarcus Aldridge/Kevin Durant teams. I’ll give you T.J. Ford and that 2003 Final Four team, but Durant’s 2007 squad? That wasn’t a great Texas team. And college basketball is getting weaker and weaker. By all means these ‘Horns are a Final Four contender.
2. Kansas +2 (5-1): Same deal with the Jayhawks. Not even close to the Raef LaFrentz/Paul Pierce/Jacque Vaughan teams of the ’90s, or the Kirk Hinrich/Drew Gooden/Nick Collison teams of the early 2000s. But this isn’t the 1990s or the early 2000s.
3. Texas A&M +1 (4-2): Aggies blew one Saturday night at Nebraska.
4. Missouri E (3-3): Tigers unbeaten at home, winless on the road. But they’ve played tough places — College Station and Austin. Will regret that loss at Colorado.
5. Baylor E (4-3): Bears could move up in the pecking order with a win Tuesday night in Norman.
6. Nebraska E (3-3): Doc Sadler might live to coach in the Big Ten.
7. Oklahoma E (3-3): Don’t look now, but the Sooners are playing very solid in the final three minutes of close games. Could have wilted at Iowa State but didn’t.
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