Get ready for seven days that will sort out the Big 12 race

West Virginia hangs on for 15th straight win (1:08)

In a tight game that came down to the final minute, Jevon Carter hits a go-ahead 3-pointer as the No. 2 Mountaineers beat the Bears 57-54. (1:08)

Yes, it's January, and, yes, there's a lot of basketball yet to be played.

Still, the schedule-makers -- and three close games won by home teams on Tuesday night -- have made January unusually crucial in the Big 12 this season. In particular, the next seven days will have a significant impact on the conference race.

Can Kansas extend its streak to an incredible 14 consecutive Big 12 titles? We'll know a lot more than we do now in seven days.

First, consider the team the Jayhawks are already chasing ...

West Virginia can take control of the title race on Saturday ...

The Mountaineers survived a grueling test against Baylor on Tuesday in Morgantown and came away with a 57-54 win. It was a game in which Bob Huggins' team converted just nine of its 36 two-point tries, but again, it was a win.

If there's concern furrowing Huggins' brow, it could be that his team might not get a victory the next time it is held to less than a point per possession. Huggins has long won games with a combination of strong offensive rebounding and a minimum of turnovers. This season, however, that formula is proving more elusive.

The Mountaineers are still pretty good on the offensive glass (freshman Teddy Allen has been particularly good in that respect during limited minutes), but the WVU offense has given the ball away once every five trips down the floor early in Big 12 play. That has had a big impact on this team's shot volume.

Nevertheless, West Virginia sits atop the Big 12 at 4-0, the only team undefeated in league play. It's possible that the one-game lead the Mountaineers now have over KU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma could become a two-game lead within the next week. It would be difficult, but it's possible.

Next up for Huggins and his men is Saturday's game against the Red Raiders in Lubbock. West Virginia figures to get a big lift in that game, thanks to the return of Esa Ahmad. The 6-foot-8 junior has been held out of action this season after failing to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. He was the team's second-leading scorer last season behind Jevon Carter, and Ahmad should help the Mountaineers get more second chances on offense. His return is a boost to a team that is already 15-1 and ranked No. 2 in the AP poll.

Still, the trip to Lubbock, even with Ahmad, doesn't project to be a walk in the park.

... or Texas Tech can pull itself into a first-place tie on its home floor

For a few minutes Tuesday night, it seemed like Chris Beard was about to take command of the Big 12 title race. His team entered the evening undefeated in conference play, and Tech was up on Oklahoma at the half in Norman. A win would have given the Raiders road victories at both OU and KU.

You know the rest. Trae Young scored 22 second-half points, and Texas Tech lost to the Sooners 75-65.

Looking ahead, however, Keenan Evans & Co. have a chance to bring league-leading West Virginia back to the pack on Saturday. Huggins and his staff will look at the numbers this week and see that the Red Raiders have been absolutely dominant on the defensive glass in Big 12 play. If, however, West Virginia finds a way to win in Lubbock, the Mountaineers' next game becomes even larger -- for WVU and for the entire Big 12.

Kansas can prove that the road to the title still goes through Lawrence come Monday ...

Bill Self's team took care of Iowa State 83-78 in Lawrence on Tuesday night, and this weekend, the Jayhawks will host Kansas State. No KU player would ever -- or should ever -- look past a game against the in-state rival, and Self will make sure of that. At the same time, the Wildcats haven't won a game at Allen Fieldhouse since 2006.

Let's go out on a limb and say Kansas wins on Saturday. That means the Jayhawks will be 4-1 in the Big 12 on Monday, when they visit West Virginia.

Speaking of streaks, KU hasn't won in Morgantown since 2013. Then again, Self's team has been, for the most part, outstanding on offense in Big 12 play. Svi Mykhailiuk is hitting 54 percent of his 3s against conference opponents, and the Jayhawks are taking excellent care of the ball. Maybe this is the year that streak ends.

... And Oklahoma can keep gliding along with just one conference loss

After possibly the best start to a college career in the past 15 years, Young is just 15-of-45 from the floor in his past two games. His shots are no longer falling, but he still recorded 14 assists in those two games, and, of course, one of those outings was a win at home over a very good Texas Tech team.

The big takeaway from Young's two-game "slump," however, might be that the freshman has scored 19 points on 19-of-24 free-throw shooting. He is still getting chances to score at the line, and that will be a clear plus for Lon Kruger's team going forward.

Oklahoma gets TCU at home on Saturday and visits Kansas State on Tuesday. Winning both games will be no small task, but if it happens, the Sooners might find themselves in a first-place tie in seven days' time.

Even though it's still January, the Big 12 is about to sort itself out.