It appears as though Kansas’ dominance of this conference will continue. Texas and Iowa St. do, however, have very solid squads that project to put up a fight against the Jayhawks. All-in-all, five teams from the Big 12 should be involved in the field of 68 when the tournament is played.
Bill Self and the Jayhawks have won at least a share of the past 10 Big 12 titles. An 11th certainly isn’t a guarantee this season but Coach Self has as much talent to work with as anyone. He’s replaced two freshman in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid with Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre. Kansas will be working with a first year PG in Devonte Graham who will have some major peaks and valleys but the improved long-range efficiency of Wayne Selden coupled with the veteran presence of forward Perry Ellis will make this team as dangerous as any come March.
The Longhorns own the sixth-ranked recruit in the nation in addition to bringing back all five starters from last season. Myles Turner should be a double-double machine on a team that didn’t have anyone average more than 12 points or 8 rebounds last season. This squad should be right there with the Jayhawks at the end of the season, and improved shooting from guards Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix would provide a major scoring boost. Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley project to be major forces in the pain this season, with the numbers pointing towards over 7 RPG from the big fellas.
This conference certainly isn’t lacking in stars and the Cyclones may have the biggest star of them all in Georges Niang. The dynamic 6’8 player will be in tough to replace the scoring of DeAndre Kane and Canadian Melvin Ejim but Niang projects to stuff the stat sheet this season. He will also get some help from Dustin Hogue and Monte Morris, who had the top two offensive ratings on the team last season. Transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones will also help to replace last year’s scoring.
Marcus Foster and Thomas Gipson ran the offense last season and both return for the Wildcats. Marcus Foster will be in the conversation for Big 12 POY while stuffing the scoring sheet at PG while Gipson will provide reliable secondary scoring in this senior year, as well as a good chunk of rebounds. The x-factor for K State will be transfer Justin Edwards, who averaged 16.7 PPG in his freshman year at Maine.
The Sooners have four returning starters from last year- a team that finished second in this conference with 23 wins. They are being heavily overlooked this season but Buddy Hield will likely get a lot of eyes on this team, running the offense at PG. Isaiah Cousins will be a very strong backcourt mate for Hield and Ryan Spangler could prove to be a force in the paint. Definitely keep your eye on this Sooners team.
First Team All-Big 12
G Juwan Staten, Senior, West Virginia
G Marcus Foster, Sophomore, Kansas St.
F Le’Bryan Nash, Senior, Oklahoma St.
F Georges Niang, Forward, Iowa St.
F Myles Turner, Freshman, Texas