The Big 12 might be a football-first conference with member schools that are always in the national conversation every fall, but don't tell that to the men and women who play basketball in the league.
Four Big 12 men's teams and five women's teams are ranked this week in the college basketball national polls. By comparison, five football teams representing the conference are listed in this week's USA Today poll.
Probably the best measure, however, of the overall strength of the conference in basketball is the evaluation provided in the latest Sagarin computer rankings. Nationally recognized sports statistician Jeff Sagarin rates the Big 12 second as a conference in men's basketball and the best in the country on the women's side. Both rankings are expected to be duplicated in the more widely referenced Ratings Percentage Index rankings when they come out for the first time this season later this week. Big 12 men have been ranked among the top three in conference RPI for the last four seasons.
The women rank first in the land as a conference, headed by No. 1-ranked Baylor and No. 4 Texas A&M. Baylor and A&M were the only teams to receive first-place votes this week, with Baylor getting 39 of the 40 votes.
Three weeks into the new college basketball season Big 12 men have compiled a combined record of 44-13, and three teams (Baylor and Missouri, both 6-0, and Kansas State, 3-0) are unbeaten, tied for the second most of any conference. The Big 12 posted the country's best winning percentage (161-53, .750) against non-league competition a year ago, and conference teams are on pace to equal or even better that mark this season.
The four men's teams from the Big 12 ranked in this week's AP Top 25 are Baylor, ranked seventh, followed by Missouri (13), Kansas (15) and Texas A&M (25).
Kansas' win over Georgetown at the Maui Invitational Tournament Thanksgiving week was the 1,900 victory in the Big 12 men's basketball history.
The men have won 150 or more non-conference games in each of the past three seasons.
As a 12-team league, the Big 12 has had at least seven teams win 20 or more games for four consecutive years. Over that same time frame, at least eight teams have gone on to postseason play every year.
The Big 12 women are off to an even better start than their male counterparts. Six women's teams remain undefeated through Tuesday's games (Baylor, 7-0; Kansas, defending league champion Texas A&M and Texas Tech, all 6-0; Missouri, 5-0, and Oklahoma State, 3-0). The six unbeaten teams leads all conferences. No other conference has more than four undefeated teams at this stage.
Big 12 teams started out 29-1 to lead the country in win percentage. They've cooled off some since, but not by much, still owning a 48-5 mark through Tuesday's contests.
Conference women have played eight games against top-25 opponents, winning five. All ten teams in the league are holding opponents under 59 points a game thus far, and as a conference, teams own a 21.85 advantage in scoring margin over non-conference foes.
Last Saturday, the Texas A&M women won the 800th game in that program's history, the 15th team in history to reach that milestone. The lady Aggies join conference members Texas and Kansas in that category.
For more information:
More Kansas Jayhawks sports coverage
More sports news and information on the Kanssas State Wildcats
More Missouri Tigers sports coverage