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Future Big 12 basketball power rankings: Chaos early in league play shakes things up

Central Florida’s C.J. Walker, front left, grabs the ball from Kansas’ K.J. Adams Jr. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Orlando, Fla.
Central Florida’s C.J. Walker, front left, grabs the ball from Kansas’ K.J. Adams Jr. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. | John Raoux, Associated Press

Editor’s note: Each week during the remainder of the 2023-24 men’s college basketball season, the Deseret News will release power rankings that take a look at the 16 teams that will make up the Big 12 Conference beginning with the 2024 season.

The rankings do not include Texas and Oklahoma — as those schools are leaving for the SEC next year — but do include Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado, the four Pac-12 teams joining the league next season.


What a wild start to Big 12 Conference play.

Front-runners Houston and Kansas have been handed early league losses, and less than a week since the first conference game, only three teams remain unbeaten in Big 12 action.

The four Pac-12 teams that will join the Big 12 next year have also had an interesting start to league play over the past two weeks, highlighted by Arizona falling in a stunner to Stanford, only to respond with a dominant week against two other contenders.

Here’s the inaugural power rankings for the 16 teams who will make up the Big 12 next season — these power rankings will publish either Monday or Tuesday throughout the remainder of the season.


Iowa State forward Robert Jones (12) celebrates in front of Houston guard L.J. Cryer Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 57-53. | Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press
Iowa State forward Robert Jones (12) celebrates in front of Houston guard L.J. Cryer Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 57-53. | Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press

1. Houston Cougars (14-1, 1-1 Big 12)

  • Last week: Beat West Virginia, 89-55.

  • This week: Lost to Iowa State, 57-53; at TCU, Saturday.

The Cougars stay at the top, even after an uncharacteristic loss at Iowa State, thanks to the steady performance of starting the year on a 14-game winning streak.

2. Arizona Wildcats (12-3, 3-1 Pac-12)

  • Last week: Beat Colorado, 97-50; Beat Utah, 92-73.

  • This week: at Washington State, Saturday.

The Wildcats recovered nicely from a stunning loss at Stanford, beating two expected top Pac-12 contenders by an average of 33 points.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (13-2, 1-1 Big 12)

  • Last week: Beat TCU, 83-81.

  • This week: Lost to UCF, 65-60; vs. No. 9 Oklahoma, Saturday.

The Jayhawks were on the losing end of the most perplexing loss of early conference play, falling on the road at UCF, giving them a Quad 2 loss.

4. Baylor Bears (13-2, 2-0 Big 12)

  • Last week: Beat Oklahoma State, 75-70.

  • This week: Beat No. 18 BYU, 81-72; vs. Cincinnati, Saturday.

The Bears have looked solid early in conference action and are coming off a comeback win over visiting BYU, with a tough Cincinnati squad visiting next.

5. Iowa State Cyclones (12-3, 1-1 Big 12)

  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 11 Oklahoma, 71-63.

  • This week: Beat No. 2 Houston, 57-53; vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday.

The Cyclones pulled off a tremendous upset over Big 12 newcomer Houston while handing the Cougars their first loss of the season — and giving Iowa State its first Quad 1 win of the year.

TCU guard Avery Anderson III reacts to scoring a 3-pointer against Oklahoma in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. | LM Otero, Associated Press
TCU guard Avery Anderson III reacts to scoring a 3-pointer against Oklahoma in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. | LM Otero, Associated Press

6. TCU Horned Frogs (12-3, 1-1 Big 12)

  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 2 Kansas, 83-81.

  • This week: Beat No. 9 Oklahoma, 80-71; vs. No. 2 Houston, Saturday.

The Horned Frogs added to the chaos of the last few days by knocking off SEC-bound and top-10 Oklahoma, just days after taking Kansas to the wire.

7. Texas Tech Red Raiders (13-2, 2-0 Big 12)

  • Last week: Beat then-No. 20 Texas, 78-67.

  • This week: Beat Oklahoma State, 98-73; vs. Kansas State, Saturday.

The Red Raiders are one of just three Big 12 teams still unbeaten this early in conference play, including an impressive road win over Texas.

8. Cincinnati Bearcats (12-3, 1-1 Big 12)

  • Last week: Beat then-No. 12 BYU, 71-60.

  • This week: Lost to No. 25 Texas, 74-73; at No. 14 Baylor, Saturday.

The Bearcats came oh-so-close to starting off their Big 12 era with a pair of wins over top 25 opponents, but fell just short against the Longhorns. They looked impressive in rallying past BYU on the road, though.

9. UCF Knights (10-4, 1-1 Big 12)

  • Last week: Lost to Kansas State, 77-52.

  • This week: Beat No. 3 Kansas, 65-60; vs. No. 18 BYU, Saturday.

The Knights, who were picked to finish last in the league, pulled a stunner by upsetting the third-ranked Jayhawks in their Big 12 home opener. For now, that gets them a vault in the power rankings.

10. Arizona State Sun Devils (10-5, 4-0 Pac-12)

  • Last week: Beat Utah, 82-70; beat Colorado, 76-73.

  • This week: at Washington, Thursday.

The Sun Devils have come out of the gate strong in Pac-12 action and are one of only two teams still unbeaten in conference play, with a road test this week against the Huskies.

11. Utah Runnin’ Utes (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12)

  • Last week: Lost to Arizona State, 82-70; lost to then-No. 10 Arizona, 92-73.

  • This week: vs. UCLA, Thursday; at Stanford, Sunday.

The Runnin’ Utes hit a rough patch in a two-game losing streak during an Arizona trip last week, with defensive issues the primary cause for concern in a pair of double-digit losses after eight straight victories.

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Utah can right itself this week with a home matchup against a struggling UCLA team and a road contest at Stanford, which knocked off Arizona earlier in league play.

Baylor center Yves Missi, top, is brought down by BYU forward Noah Waterman Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 81-72. | Gareth Patterson, Associated Press
Baylor center Yves Missi, top, is brought down by BYU forward Noah Waterman Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 81-72. | Gareth Patterson, Associated Press

12. BYU Cougars (12-3, 0-2 Big 12)

  • Last week: Lost to Cincinnati, 71-60.

  • This week: Lost to No. 14 Baylor, 81-72; at UCF, Saturday.

The Cougars, after going through nonconference play with one loss and rising as high as No. 12 in The Associated Press rankings, have lost their first two Big 12 games after leading by as many as nine points early in the second half of each game.

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BYU needs an adjustment period with the Big 12, which will take time, and now face a UCF team that is fresh off upsetting No. 3 Kansas.

13. Kansas State Wildcats (12-3, 2-0 Big 12)

  • Last week: Beat UCF, 77-52.

  • This week: Beat West Virginia, 81-67; at Texas Tech, Saturday.

The Wildcats have taken care of business in convincing fashion in their first two games of league play, with a tough matchup at Texas Tech next.

14. Colorado Buffaloes (11-5, 2-3 Pac-12)

  • Last week: Lost to Arizona, 97-50; Lost to Arizona State, 76-73.

  • This week: Lost to California, 82-78; vs. USC, Saturday.

The Buffaloes started Pac-12 play with a couple nice wins, but they’ve been on a slide the past two weeks, capped by a stunning loss at Cal after blowing a 20-point lead.

15. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-7, 0-2 Big 12)

  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 18 Baylor, 75-70.

  • This week: Lost to Texas Tech, 90-73; at Iowa State, Saturday.

The Cowboys don’t have a single win over anything other than a Quad 4 opponent at this point in the year, and have one Quad 4 loss.

16. West Virginia Mountaineers (5-10, 0-2 Big 12)

  • Last week: Lost to then-No. 3 Houston, 89-55.

  • This week: Lost to Kansas State, 81-67; vs. No. 25 Texas, Saturday.

The Mountaineers have been overwhelmed in their first two conference games of the season and look to be the most likely team to finish at the bottom of the Big 12 standings.