Oklahoma basketball: Jay Bilas sees Sooners as 4th best team in the Big 12

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Head coach Lon Kruger of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts to a lead over the USC Trojans after a timeout with Trae Young
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Head coach Lon Kruger of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts to a lead over the USC Trojans after a timeout with Trae Young /

Oklahoma basketball is no longer the surprise that it was when the Sooners knocked off two ranked teams on the road on successive weekends last month.

The Sooner men were 8-1 at this time a month ago, and they were rising fast in the national rankings. They are 5-1 since then, but the spoils of their early-season success preceded the Sooners into college basketball’s second season: conference play.

With five-star recruit Trae Young coming on board, everyone knew his addition was going to pick up OU basketball and make the team much improved over the 11-20 season a year ago. Through 15 games, or about midway through his true freshman season, Young has performed beyond his years. Not only is he the nation’s leading scorer and assist leader, many are touting the Sooner newcomer as the best player in all of college basketball.

No one is looking at the Oklahoma men as a patsy in basketball this season, not with the resume they are building.

The Sooners are the third-highest ranked team in this week’s rankings, and that’s at No. 9. This will probably improve, assuming the OU will hold home court this weekend against No. 16 TCU, because of OU’s win Tuesday night over 8th-ranked Texas Tech.

Come November every year, the college football experts talk about chaos and the unsuspected upsets that scramble the College Playoff order and the top-10 rankings in the national polls.

Conference play this time of year is college basketball’s version of that same chaos, and between now and Selection Sunday in early March, when the teams and seedings for the NCAA Basketball Tournament will be revealed, you can expect plenty of chaos and surprises and a makeover in the view of the college basketball world we have in view at this point in time.

Some, like ESPN “Bracketology” professor Joe Lunardi, are already issuing rolling projections of what the 68-team tournament field will look like eight weeks from now.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas is trying his early hand as projecting this season’s best 68 teams. If you haven’t seen it, you can see the article by clicking here. The upshot is that three Big 12 teams are ranked in Bilas’ top ten, and none of them are named Oklahoma.

According to Bilas, Oklahoma is the 12th best team in the country right now, behind No. 3 West Virginia, No. 8 Kansas and No. 9 Texas Tech, who the Sooners defeated 75-65 Tuesday night.

Wichita State is No. 8 in Bilas’ rankings of the best 68 teams in college basketball in 2017-18. The Sooners shocked Wichita State earlier this season, 91-83, in Wichita, when the Shockers were ranked No. 3 in the country.

Here is what Bilas had to say about the Sooners:

"“Don’t get too concerned about losing at West Virginia. Everyone will lose at West Virginia. That is an arena of agony…“Trae Young leads the nation in both scoring and assists and has from-the-logo range. The dude is like a wizard with the ball and has every shot in the book – and some off the books. If you haven’t seen him, check him out. He’s a video game.”"

How the rest of the Big 12 fared in Bilas’ team rankings:

29. TCU Horned Frogs

36. Baylor Bears

38. Texas Longhorns

61. Kansas State Wildcats

62. Oklahoma State Cowboys