The Big 12 conference has gotten tougher over the years. Heading into March Madness and the conference tournament, Houston is the consensus top team in the nation. One would think that the prestigious Kansas basketball program would be right there with them at the second spot but they are not. Bill Self and Hunter Dickinson's squad have fallen all the way to fifth in their conference and 14th in the nation after their loss to Baylor.

This is not a good omen for the program as March Madness starts. The Kansas basketball squad now ranks the lowest it has ever been since Coach Bill Self took over, per Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports. There are still two games left for the season but their opponents are not at all easy by any means.

Tough challenges for Kansas basketball

Kansas Jayhawks center Hunter Dickinson (1) hangs on the rim after a dunk in front of Baylor Bears forward Josh Ojianwuna (15) during the first half at Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion
© Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The first hurdle that the Kansas basketball squad has to face is Kansas State. Vengeance might be all the Jayhawks want after they lost narrowly back in February with a 70 to 75 scoreline. But, that chip on their shoulders might be hard to balance and maintain. After all, the Hunter Dickinson-led squad is coming off a two-game losing streak since they got mopped by BYU and Baylor.

If they do manage to win over their in-state rivals, the best team in the nation awaits them to cap off their season. Houston has a seven-game winning streak and has only managed to lose three times this season. But, the silver lining is that all of those losses have come from within the Big 12 conference. One of those just so happened to be a matchup in February. This was when the Jayhawks trampled over LJ Cryer's team with a 13-point win.

There is a lot of hope for Coach Self. The Kansas basketball squad might even have the talent to win a national title again. Dickinson is averaging 18.3 points on a 56.1% field goal clip while also grabbing 10.7 rebounds per contest. Not to mention, Dajuan Harris has also been stepping up with his defense and floor general skills that net him 6.6 assists on a nightly basis.

Will the Kansas basketball squad win it all despite these hurdles?