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Big 12 preview: Is it the No. 6 Baylor Bears’ conference to lose?

Baylor may sit at the top of the conference after the first few games, but the Big 12 is as competitive and deep as ever.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Texas Christian at Baylor
Baylor’s Aijha Blackwell celebrates with fans during the Bears’ most recent win over TCU.
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As conference play kicks off, five Big 12 teams are in the AP Top 25, with two ranked in the top ten. The conference is as dominant and elite as ever.

We previewed the Big 12 before the season started, but let’s take a closer look at where things stand now that conference play officially has begun.

No. 6 Baylor (13-0, 2-0)

NCAA Womens Basketball: Texas Christian at Baylor
Baylor senior guard Sarah Andrews.
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season started, Texas was at the top, but now Baylor holds that crown. They are ranked No. 6 in the country, undefeated and have a stacked roster. Sarah Andrews leads the team in points with 13.8 per game. Darianna Littlepage-Buggs cleans up the glass with 8.1 rebounds per game and Jada Walker distributes the ball with 3.8 dimes per night.

Again, this is a fluid situation and a few teams can win it all in the Big 12. But right now, the Bears are the crème de la crème.

No. 10 Texas (14-1, 1-1)

Texas v Stanford
Texas junior guard Rori Harmon.
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Texas Longhorns will be a tough team to beat this season, even with the season-ending ACL injury to guard Rori Harmon. Only Baylor has done so and it’s the reason they are just below them in the conference hierarchy. Without Harmon, Shay Holle is a guard fans should keep an eye on. If she can elevate her game just a smidge, she can be the difference maker for the Longhorns in conference play.

No. 11 Kansas State (14-1, 2-0)

Houston v Kansas State
Kansas State senior center Ayoka Lee.
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

The Wildcats run Kansas and they may soon run the Big 12. They have Ayoka Lee, who is having a monster season, averaging 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. As long as she’s leading the charge, K-State can beat anyone in the country.

The Wildcats have started conference play well with two wins, but their first big test will be against the Longhorns next Saturday.

Tier 2: No. 23 TCU (14-1, 1-1), No. 24 West Virginia (13-0, 2-0), Texas Tech (12-3, 1-1)

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 17 Div I Women’s Championship - West Virginia vs Arizona Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Big 12 is so stacked that even the second tier has Top 25 representation with TCU and West Virginia. Both teams have shocked the nation, with West Virginia being undefeated and TCU registering just one loss. Texas Tech is another team on the rise, with Bailey Maupin and Jasmine Shavers in the backcourt.

Tier 3: Oklahoma (8-5, 2-0), Oklahoma State (8-5, 1-1), Iowa State (9-4, 2-0)

At this tier, these teams aren’t quiet contenders in the conference, but they are talented and could register a couple of upsets. The Cyclones have some great forwards who can score at will, while the Cowgirls have five players averaging 10 or more points per game. In many other conferences, these teams would be favorites, but in the Big 12, they are closer to the middle of the pack.

Tier 4: Kansas (7-6, 0-2), BYU (10-5, 0-2), Cincinnati (8-5, 0-2), Houston (9-4, 0-2), UCF (9-3, 0-2)

Someone has to be at the bottom. These five teams likely will struggle to stay afloat. There is just too much talent throughout the Big 12 and these teams don’t have the enough to compete night in and night out. Maybe, one team from this group one surprises us? Most likely, this tier will stay the same all season long.

Closing thoughts

The Big 12 may be the best conference in basketball. Watching so many great matchups every week will lead to some exhilarating games. We’ll know so much about the strengths and weaknesses of all the top teams come March. The marquee games featuring Baylor, Texas and Kansas State will be must-see TV even for the casual fan.