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Big 12 Basketball: Kansas Vs. Kansas State Leads First Week Of Conference Play

Eight Big 12 men's basketball teams have a winning percentage of better than .700 heading into the tip off of conference play beginning next week.

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Thomas Robinson of Kansas
Thomas Robinson of Kansas

Big 12 men's teams have been playing basketball for almost two months, but the real season gets under way a few days from now when the conference season commences and Big 12 teams take on each other in head-to-head play.

Through Tuesday's games, the Big 12 has a combined record of 89-24, a .777 winning percentage, against non-conference opponents this season. The Big 12 led the country a year ago in winning percentage against non-conference teams, and so far in 2011-12, the conference is ahead of its .710 pace for last season.

Of its ten teams, only two Big 12 teams have a winning percentage below .700 (Oklahoma State and Texas Tech), and two conference teams (Baylor and Missouri) are undefeated through 12 games. Only one other conference has a better overall record. The Big 12 is also one of four conferences with every team having a winning percentage of .500 or better.

A minimum of four men's teams from the Big 12 have been ranked in the nation's top 25 in 41 of the past 43 weeks, including four - Baylor (7), Missouri (8), Kansas (18) and Kansas State (25) - in this week's USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll.

The Big 12 conference season tips off on Monday, with seventh-ranked and undefeated Baylor (12-0) hosting 8-3 Texas A&M, the best defensive team in the conference, yielding opponents only 55 points a game. One of the conference's surprise teams so far, Oklahoma (9-1), plays at eighth-ranked Missouri (12-0) on Tuesday. Missouri leads the Big 12 in scoring entering conference play, averaging 87 points a contest.

Kansas and Kansas State square off at Allen Field House in Lawrence on Wednesday in the first of the two Sunflower Showdowns scheduled in the regular season. Two other conference games also are scheduled on Wednesday: Texas at Iowa State and Texas Tech at Oklahoma State.

Kansas State and Oklahoma hardly get a break before having to face Missouri and Kansas, respectively, in home games on Saturday.

Junior off-ball guard Steven Pledger of Oklahoma leads the conference in scoring, averaging 19.8, while junior Thomas Robinson of Kansas is the top rebounder in the league, pulling down 11.8 boards a game.

This will be the first season since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996 that the league has played a full round-robin schedule in basketball. Every team in the conference will play every other team twice (one at home and one away), which will eliminate the advantage that certain teams could get every season from scheduling.

Heading into league play, Big 12 teams have the second best RPI ranking as a conference behind only the Big Ten. The Big East is third.