The Big 12 in October looked like it does pretty much every preseason. Kansas the heavy favorite, a remote contender or two, and a bunch of question marks.
After the first week and a half of the season, it looked like an even easier path for Kansas. West Virginia was blitzed by Texas A&M in the season opener, and TCU was the only other team in the Top 25.
Fast-forward a month, and the Big 12 might be the deepest conference in the country.
But let's get one thing out of the way early: If forced to pick tomorrow, Kansas would still be the favorite to win the league -- the Jayhawks' 14th straight conference title.
It just looks like a lot more difficult now.
There's a very strong argument that the league has six Top 25 locks right now. TCU is undefeated at 10-0 and the most consistent team in the Big 12; Trae Young and Oklahoma just went into Kansas and beat Wichita State; Kansas is in the midst of a slump, but it's still a top-15 to -20 team; West Virginia hasn't lost since the aforementioned season opener to Texas A&M; and Baylor and Texas Tech haven't done anything earth-shattering, but both teams have a couple of nice wins and zero losses to non-Top 25 teams.
There is a slight drop-off after those six, but Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State are a combined 32-9 right now. That "bottom-tier" quartet has wins over Florida State, Butler, Vanderbilt, VCU, Boise State, Iowa and Northern Iowa.
It's not just a subjective opinion, either. All 10 teams in the Big 12 are ranked in the top 61 in the BPI. They're all ranked in the top 59 at KenPom.com.
The one thing to hold against the Big 12 is perhaps its lack of national title contenders. Kansas was one in the preseason, but the Jayhawks are working through some issues. TCU and West Virginia are still very unproven, and while Young might be the best college basketball player in the country, we need to see some more from Oklahoma before taking that plunge.
But that's irrelevant for the league's depth and potential number of NCAA tournament bids -- and Kansas' quest for yet another league title.
The phrase "no nights off" is overused in the sports lexicon, but it might be legitimately true in the Big 12 this season.
1. Arizona State Sun Devils
Last week: 1
That could have been embarrassing. Arizona State was down 13-0 at home to Vanderbilt on Sunday, before eventually winning by double digits -- so the Sun Devils live to see another week at No. 1 in the power rankings. Mickey Mitchell's midseason arrival could end up being huge.
2. Villanova Wildcats
Last week: 2
Villanova just continues to obliterate all opponents, which will likely continue this week when Jay Wright returns to Long Island to face Hofstra, his old stomping grounds. Jalen Brunson must have been tired of all the Mikal Bridges hype, as Brunson went for 31 vs. Temple.
3. Michigan State Spartans
Last week: 3
Tom Izzo's Spartans won't be tested until Big Ten play resumes in January, meaning they should sit comfortably at 14-1 at the end of 2017. More importantly, it looks like whatever issues Izzo and Nick Ward had are officially in the rearview mirror.
4. Duke Blue Devils
Last week: 4
Duke had the week off after its loss to Boston College, meaning the Blue Devils theoretically had time to figure out their defensive woes. Their inability to defend ball screens and protect the rim has been alarming thus far; there's too much talent for those issues.
5. North Carolina Tar Heels
Last week: 6
North Carolina's defense down the stretch against Tennessee was superb, and the Tar Heels got timely buckets from guys such as Sterling Manley, Garrison Brooks and Brandon Robinson. This team is going to keep getting better as the season progresses.
6. Miami Hurricanes
Last week: 7
The mystery team in the top 10. The Hurricanes won at George Washington during the week, which keeps them undefeated -- but doesn't exactly tell us anything more about them. Maybe this week's trip to the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii will help.
7. Texas A&M Aggies
Last week: 8
Robert Williams missed Wednesday's game against Savannah State with a concussion, but the Aggies won by 47 points anyway. Williams' scoring numbers have been way down this season, scoring more than four points just once in the past six games.
8. Kentucky Wildcats
Last week: 9
We finally got some legitimate intel on the Wildcats after their home win over Virginia Tech on Saturday. We'll find out some more in the coming weeks, with UCLA and Louisville up next on the schedule. Will Kentucky's hot shooting (11 3-pointers vs. Tech) be an aberration?
9. Xavier Musketeers
Last week: 10
The Musketeers overcame a 22-point second-half deficit to beat East Tennessee State, finishing the game on a 24-7 run. Trevon Bluiett's ability to get his own look and make contested shots is second-to-none nationally. He can carry this team late in games.
10. TCU Horned Frogs
Last week: 11
The undefeated Horned Frogs were off this week, deservedly so after beating SMU and Nevada in early December. They'll likely move to 12-0 before Big 12 play -- which opens with Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas, Texas and then Oklahoma again. Questions will be answered.
11. Purdue Boilermakers
Last week: 14
There are simply not many teams with the résumé depth of the Boilermakers. The lone Top 25 win is Arizona, but they've also defeated Louisville, Maryland, Northwestern, Butler and Marquette. They're second in the BPI and No. 6 at KenPom.com.
12. Oklahoma Sooners
Last week: NR
This week's biggest riser shouldn't come as a surprise. The Sooners went to Wichita and scored 91 points, defeating the Shockers. Trae Young had 29 points and 10 assists -- continuing his absurd start to the season. He's averaging almost 29 points and nine assists.
13. Wichita State Shockers
Last week: 5
The Shockers' losing to Oklahoma isn't the end of the world, but they're starting to show some defensive cracks that are atypical of Gregg Marshall-coached teams. They have now given up more than 1.1 points per possession in three of the past six games.
14. Kansas Jayhawks
Last week: 13
One can't really call Kansas' beating Nebraska by one "bouncing back," but it was a must-win for the Jayhawks after dropping their previous two games. Fun fact about Udoka Azubuike's emergence: his 13-of-17 performance against Nebraska actually brought his shooting percentage down to 78 percent.
15. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Last week: 15
One of Gonzaga's toughest nonconference tests comes on Thursday, a sneaky road trip to San Diego State. The Aztecs aren't what they were earlier this decade, but they still defend and they still have on-paper talent. Gonzaga won't overlook this one.
16. West Virginia Mountaineers
Last week: 16
Another team that had the week off, presumably for finals, the Mountaineers get a couple of gimme wins against Coppin State and Fordham this week. Then they face two of the theoretically weaker teams in the Big 12 with road trips to top-65 BPI teams Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
17. Virginia Cavaliers
Last week: 19
Solid bounce-back for Virginia, beating Davidson by 20. The Cavaliers' only loss so far this season is on the road at West Virginia, and the chances for résumé wins will come in the ACC. They now have the No. 1 defense in the country at KenPom.com.
18. Arizona Wildcats
Last week: 21
It's likely Arizona will be on an upward trajectory from here on out, ripping off five wins in a row and getting Rawle Alkins back from injury since the three-game losing streak. In only his second game back, Alkins dropped 26 points on 11 shots against New Mexico.
19. Tennessee Volunteers
Last week: 20
Tennessee likely would have been in the 10 to 12 range had it hung on to beat North Carolina on Sunday, but the Volunteers are still a bona fide Top 25 team. Their only two losses are to Villanova and North Carolina, by a combined 14 points. That win over Purdue looks better and better.
20. Baylor Bears
Last week: 22
Since losing to Xavier and Wichita State, Baylor has played Sam Houston State, Randall College, Texas Southern, Savannah State and will get Southern on Wednesday. Those five teams have a combined five wins over Division I teams this season.
21. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Last week: 23
The lone loss on the Red Raiders' docket so far was to Seton Hall, and they've handled business everywhere else. One thing to watch: They don't have a true road win yet this season, and their first two road trips in the Big 12 season are at Kansas and at Oklahoma.
22. Arkansas Razorbacks
Last week: 24
Suddenly, that nine-point win over Oklahoma on a neutral court looks a bit more impressive. The Razorbacks held Trae Young to his lowest assist output of the season, and he shot 8-for-18 from the floor. The 26-point loss to Houston still looks strange.
23. Creighton Bluejays
The Bluejays haven't defeated anyone in the Top 25, with their best wins coming over Northwestern and UCLA -- neither in Omaha, though. However, their only losses are to Baylor and Gonzaga. Monday's game against UT Arlington is sneaky-good.
24. Seton Hall Pirates
Last week: 12
Seton Hall was awful down the stretch against in-state rival Rutgers on Saturday and plummet down the rankings. However, wins over Texas Tech and Louisville keep it in the Top 25 for now. The next four for the Pirates are at home.
25. Florida State Seminoles
Last week: 17
Just holding off SMU for the final spot in the rankings, Florida State suffered its first loss of the season, to Oklahoma State by one on Saturday. The Seminoles' road win at Florida looks slightly less impressive -- but the road win at Rutgers gets a boost in stature.
Dropped out: Notre Dame, Florida