Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview

By Garrett Kroeger

Last year, the Big 12 conference had a magical basketball season. The Big 12 conference sent seven teams (i.e., Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor) to the NCAA tournament and one team (West Virginia) to the NIT. There was no other conference that came close to the Big 12’s 70 percent league participation in the NCAA tournament.

For this season, even with the loss of several of the conference’s major stars, look for it to keep on dominating: Kansas is going to be Kansas, Texas has some new talent, and Iowa State and Oklahoma are bringing back virtually everyone from last year. I firmly believe that the Big 12 conference will duplicate last year’s success. They will lead six to seven teams to the NCAA tournament this year, with Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, and Oklahoma being locks and two or three spots up for grabs.

Predicted Order of Final Standings

1.    Kansas: Losing to Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament was not the way Kansas would have preferred to have finished the season. Also, with the losses of top NBA draft picks, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, you would think Kansas would have a hard time contending for the Big 12 title. With Perry Ellis and Wayne Seldon leading the way, look for Kansas to be solid once again. Also, watch for new faces Cliff Alexander, Kelly Oubre, and Devonte Graham to contribute right away and help Kansas to a Big 12 title, and maybe a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

2. Iowa State: The Iowa State Cyclones had an amazing season last year even though they lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual champion, UConn. Though the Cyclones lost key stars in DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim, they will have another amazing year with talents like Georges Niang, Dustin Hogue, Monte Morris, Naz Long, and UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones. Another talented transfer loaded roster looks ready to challenge Kansas once again for the Big 12 title. With Fred Hoiberg as head coach, you’ll never be able to count out the Cyclones.

3. Texas: If you haven’t already heard, Texas brings in Myles Turner, who was ranked as the number two prospect in the nation. Turner isn’t the only person to watch for on this Texas team. Big man Jonathan Holmes, who averaged 13 ppg, will lead the frontcourt for Texas, while guard Isaiah Taylor, who averaged 12.5 ppg, will lead the backcourt. Texas as a whole might be the deepest team in the Big 12.

4. Oklahoma: Last year’s team was one the highest scoring teams in the past decade at Oklahoma. The reason for the high scoring was because of guard Buddy Hield. Hield had a breakout year, averaging 16.5 ppg. He will lead Lon Kruger’s offense once again, as Oklahoma attempts to make the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.

5.  West Virginia: Juwan Staten is one of the Big 12’s best players and will contend for the Big 12’s Player of the Year award. But how far can he lead a West Virginia team that lost productive players like Eron Harris and Terry Henderson? Look for Staten being the key player in Bob Huggins’ offense. It is expected that he will get help from newcomers, 6-9 Elijah Macon and 6-7 Jonathan Holton.

6.  Kansas State: It is the third season of the Bruce Weber era at Kansas State and look for the offense to run through sophomore Marcus Foster once again. Last year, as a freshman, Foster averaged 17.2 ppg. Senior Thomas Gipson and Maine transfer Justin Edwards will assist Foster on offense. If role players can step up this year, watch as Bruce Weber tries to lead Kansas State to a Big 12 title and a NCAA tournament bid.

7.   Baylor: This is going to be a down year for Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears. Baylor lost a lot of talent and experience in Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson, and Brady Heslip. Kenny Cherry and Ricardo Gathers are expected to carry much of the load this year. If other players can step up, Baylor might be able to squeak into the NCAA tournament, but that is a big if.

8. Oklahoma State: It has been the Marcus Smart show the past two seasons in Stillwater. So whose show is it going to be this year? LeBryan Nash, Phil Forte, or LSU transfer Anthony Hickey may run the show this season. Oklahoma State does have a tournament-worthy team, but it is unclear if the pieces can all fall into place for them or not. Look for Oklahoma State to be an NIT team this year.

9. TCU: Last year, TCU went 0-18 in Big 12 play. With four starters returning, plus Pitt transfer Trey Zeigler and UTEP transfer Chris Washburn, TCU may win some Big 12 games this year. This TCU team may not be stellar but they will be an improved team from last season.

10. Texas Tech: It is going to be another rough year in Lubbock for Tubby Smith. Tech lost four players that started 29 games last year. Even though Tubby did add six new players, none of them appear to be impact players. Senior Robert Turner may try to lead this team to a winning record, but it looks unlikely it will happen.

Preseason Awards

Big 12 Player of the Year: Perry Ellis, Kansas

Big 12 Newcomer of the Year: Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State

Big 12 Freshman of the Year: Myles Turner, Texas

Big 12 Coach of the Year: Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State

Preseason All Conference Team

G Monte Morris, Iowa State

G Juwan Staten, West Virginia

F Myles Turner, Texas

F Georges Niang, Iowa State

F Perry Ellis, Kansas


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