The Big 12 portion of the schedule begins Saturday, with a league that suddenly looks much better than preseason projections suggested, with the conference owning the No. 1 rating in the latest RPI.
How the next two-plus months shake out is anyone's guess, but here's a power ranking heading into league play.
1. Kansas (9-3). Sure, the Jayhawks have stumbled a bit, but against very outstanding competition. They'll get better. And they're still the nine-time defending conference champs.
2. Oklahoma State (12-1). The Cowboys have mostly rolled through a solid nonconference schedule and seem to have the pieces, even without Michael Cobbins.
3. Iowa State (12-0). Fred Hoiberg is only enhancing his reputation as a superb coach. The Cyclones have to prove they can win more on the road in the Big 12.
4. Baylor (11-1). The Bears always start strong, but it's their finish that always is concerning. With Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson in the middle, their frontcourt is daunting.
5. Texas (11-2). The surprise of the league, the Longhorns have surged behind balance and the stellar play of Jonathan Holmes. They host OU and visit OSU in the first week.
6. Oklahoma (11-2). Cameron Clark's resurgence and Ryan Spangler's impact have pushed up the timetable on what figured to be a rebuilding phase for the Sooners.
7. Kansas State (10-3). Winners of eight straight, the Wildcats have been another surprise. But do they have enough firepower offensively to contend?
8. West Virginia (8-5). The Mountaineers have faced a tough schedule, with their five losses by an average of 5.6 points. They will be dangerous in Morgantown.
9. TCU (9-3). The Horned Frogs are making progress and Kyan Anderson is a versatile guard to keep an eye on. Still, it's a baby-step process.
10. Texas Tech (8-5). Tubby Smith is making an impact on the Red Raiders, even with a limited roster.
By John Helsley