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Future Big 12 basketball power rankings: There’s a big matchup between top teams this week

Houston and Kansas are finally playing each other, while other top Big 12 contenders are starting to emerge

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Houston Cougars players and coaches celebrate after a 3-point shot as BYU and Houston play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Houston won 75-68.

Houston Cougars players and coaches celebrate after a 3-point shot as BYU and Houston play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Houston won 75-68.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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.


Contenders are starting to emerge in a competitive Big 12 this season.

While there is plenty of parity, there are a few programs who are standing out above the rest.

It’s all setting up for what is expected to be a competitive battle between two top-10 programs when Houston visits Kansas.

Here’s the latest power rankings for the 16 teams who will make up the Big 12 next season, following the fourth week of January.


1. Houston Cougars (18-2, 5-2 Big 12)

Poll movement: No change.

Last week: Beat then-No. 21 BYU, 75-68; beat Kansas State, 74-52.

This week: Monday at Texas; Saturday at No. 8 Kansas.

The Cougars were impressive in picking up a pair of wins last week and have two big road games ahead, including their first trip to Kansas as a Big 12 member.

2. Iowa State Cyclones (16-4, 5-2 Big 12)

Poll movement: Climbed four spots.

Last week: Beat Kansas State, 78-67; beat then-No. 7 Kansas, 79-75.

This week: Saturday at No. 18 Baylor.

With the Big 12 season nearing its midway point, the Cyclones showed again why they are a league contender with two big wins over the Kansas schools.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (16-4, 4-3 Big 12)

Poll movement: Dropped one spot.

Last week: Beat Cincinnati, 74-69; lost to then-No. 23 Iowa State, 79-75.

This week: Tuesday vs. Oklahoma State; Saturday vs. No. 4 Houston.

The Jayhawks split a pair of games for the third straight week, leaving them just over .500 so far in Big 12 play. There’s another big test this week hosting the Cougars.

4. Arizona Wildcats (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12)

Poll movement: Dropped one spot.

Last week: Lost to Oregon State, 83-80; beat Oregon, 87-78.

This week: Thursday vs. California; Sunday vs. Stanford.

What a strange road trip: the Wildcats inexplicably drop a game at Oregon State, only to turn around and win at Oregon for an important road victory in the Pac-12 race. 

Texas Tech forward Warren Washington, right, blocks a shot-attempt by Oklahoma guard Rivaldo Soares (5) Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Norman, Okla.

Texas Tech forward Warren Washington, right, blocks a shot-attempt by Oklahoma guard Rivaldo Soares (5) Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Norman, Okla.

Nate Billings, Associated Press

5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-3, 5-1 Big 12)

Poll movement: Climbed three spots.

Last week: Beat then-No. 11 Oklahoma, 85-84.

This week: Tuesday at No. 25 TCU; Saturday vs. Cincinnati.

There was only one game for the Red Raiders last week, but the comeback win on the road over the Sooners keeps Texas Tech atop the Big 12 standings.

6. TCU Horned Frogs (15-5, 4-3 Big 12)

Poll movement: Climbed one spot.

Last week: Beat Oklahoma State, 74-69; beat then-No. 15 Baylor, 105-102.

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 15 Texas Tech; Saturday vs. Texas.

That was a good bounce-back week for the Horned Frogs: after losing two straight, TCU went on the road and picked up a pair of wins, including beating Baylor in a triple-overtime thriller.

7. Baylor Bears (14-5, 3-3 Big 12)

Poll movement: Dropped three spots.

Last week: Lost to TCU, 105-102.

This week: Wednesday at UCF; Saturday vs. No. 12 Iowa State.

The Bears have lost three straight games now, setting up a critical week for Baylor to try and bounce back before sliding further down the conference standings not long after being at the top.

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BYU guard Dallin Hall blocks Texas forward Dylan Disu on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. BYU won 84-72.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

8. BYU Cougars (15-5, 3-4 Big 12)

Poll movement: Climbed one spot.

Last week: Lost to then-No. 4 Houston, 75-68; beat Texas, 84-72.

This week: Saturday at West Virginia.

BYU had its chance to upset top-five Houston but went cold in the final two minutes. The Cougars, though, bounced back with a solid win over the Longhorns.

Can BYU take advantage of a week with only one game to finally pick up its first road win in conference play?

9. Kansas State Wildcats (14-6, 4-3 Big 12)

Poll movement: Dropped four spots.

Last week: Lost to then-No. 23 Iowa State, 78-67; lost to then-No. 4 Houston, 74-52.

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 23 Oklahoma; Saturday at Oklahoma State.

A couple of losses against ranked opponents brought the Wildcats back down to reality after an impressive start to league play. How will they respond?

10. Cincinnati Bearcats (14-6, 3-4 Big 12)

Poll movement: No change.

Last week: Lost to then-No. 7 Kansas, 74-69; beat UCF, 68-57.

This week: Wednesday at West Virginia; Saturday at No. 15 Texas Tech.

The Bearcats couldn’t quite pull the upset against the Jayhawks but followed that with a nice win over UCF. This week, though, takes Cincinnati back out on the road.

11. Colorado Buffaloes (15-6, 6-4 Pac-12)

Poll movement: Climbed one spot.

Last week: Beat Washington, 98-81; lost to Washington State, 78-69.

This week: Saturday at Utah.

The Buffaloes went 1-1 on the road — victories away from home have come at a premium in the Pac-12 — and that sets up an important contest at Utah this weekend.

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Washington forward Keion Brooks Jr. goes to the basket against Utah Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Seattle. Washington crushed the Utes, 98-73.

Lindsey Wasson, Associated Press

12. Utah Runnin’ Utes (14-7, 5-5 Pac-12)

Poll movement: Dropped one spot.

Last week: Lost to Washington State, 79-57; lost to Washington, 98-73.

This week: Saturday vs. Colorado.

The Runnin’ Utes took their lumps on the road again, falling to 0-5 in Pac-12 action away from the Huntsman Center after two blowout losses on the Washington road trip.

Utah, with the injury issues that have crept up, really needs a breather week with just one game, though the matchup with the Buffaloes is a critical one in the Pac-12 race. 

13. UCF Knights (12-7, 3-4 Big 12)

Poll movement: No change.

Last week: Beat West Virginia, 72-59; lost to Cincinnati, 68-57.

This week: Wednesday vs. No. 18 Baylor; Saturday vs. No. 23 Oklahoma.

Following a 1-1 split that keeps the Knights one game under .500 in Big 12 play, they have a pair of home games this week — though both come against top-25 opponents.

14. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-11, 1-6 Big 12)

Poll movement: Climbed two spots.

Last week: Lost to TCU, 74-69; beat West Virginia, 70-66.

This week: Tuesday at No. 8 Kansas; Saturday vs. Kansas State.

The Cowboys’ win over the Mountaineers snapped a six-game losing streak. It won’t get easy this week with the Kansas schools up next.

15. Arizona State Sun Devils (11-9, 5-4 Pac-12)

Poll movement: Dropped one spot.

Last week: Lost to Oregon, 80-61; lost to Oregon State, 84-71. 

This week: Thursday vs. Stanford; Saturday vs. California.

The Sun Devils dropped back-to-back road games again and have now lost four of their past five. Up next is a home stretch against the two Bay Area schools. 

16. West Virginia Mountaineers (7-13, 2-5 Big 12)

Poll movement: Dropped two spots.

Last week: Lost to UCF, 72-59; lost to Oklahoma State, 70-66.

This week: Wednesday vs. Cincinnati; Saturday vs. No. 22 BYU.

The Mountaineers, after pulling off a stunner over Kansas, dropped a pair of road games, including at last-place Oklahoma State. They’ll stay at home this week.