With each team playing 18 conference games and there not being a ton of separation between these teams this year, there aren't going to be many nights off in conference play for most teams. Which again, isn't exactly breaking news by any means but it seems especially true this season. There are going to be many close contests in the conference I'd predict. So if a team is going to try to make a run up the conference standings and potentially into the NCAA Tournament they are going to have to protect their home floor and try to sneak out as many road games as they can. I don't think there is a 16-win team in the conference this season and I don't think there is a 16-loss team in the conference either. I think 13-5 will win the conference easily and you are going to have most of the conference teams finish around 10-8 to 7-11.
I guess that's a long, dumb way of saying I really don't know how the conference season will shake out for many teams this year. I think Kansas and West Viriginia are head and shoulders above everyone else. I think Kansas State and Oklahoma State are ???knees and ankles??? below everyone else. And those other 6 teams are all in that middle region.
This feels like a year that Kansas shouldn't win the league. This should be a down year for the Jayhawks. Their best three players coming into this season are DeVonte Graham, Sviatoslov Mykhailiuk, and Malik Newman??? That doesn't sound like a trio that should roll through conference play, at least to me. I really want to pick West Virignia to win the conference but the Jayhawks have earned their respect in the Big 12 and deserve to be the favorites until they aren't. It goes back to that old expression: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me thirteen straight times, shame on me.
Bitter Preview Alert:
Things we apparently can't figure out as a society:
1. How to shorten baseball games
2. How to elect a competent President
3. How to officiate West Virginia games
It's borderline offensive to watch West Virginia maul people for 18 games a year in conference play and never get called for fouls. Unreal. And almost unwatchable at times. Which is unfortunate since a West Virginia game in the conference season averages 2 hours and 25 minutes. They'll be good this year though. And they won't get called for any fouls. Lock of the year.
I could see anywhere up to six teams ending up in this three seed by the time the conference wraps up. I think we will know more around Thanksgiving time about who the third best team in the Big 12 will be but for now, I'll slide Baylor in there. They seem to always have athletes in Waco that are hard to match up with. Replacing Motley will be an adjustment for the Bears but they are Jr/Sr heavy this year which should help them stay around the top of the league.
Jamie Dixon man. TCU just should not be a basketball school but they are quickly trending in that direction. Dixon won an NIT Championship in his first year at TCU and appears to have the Horned Frogs marching towards an NCAA Tournament appearance this year season in his second year. Strong start so far for Dixon in Fort Worth.
Very disappointing season last year for the Sooners following their 2016 Final Four appearance. A youthful squad led to some tough nights in Norman last season. A year under their belts though should help their young core you'd think, especially under a high-end coach like Lon Kruger. Expect the Sooners to take a leap forward this season .
Full disclosure here. I am a Cyclones season ticket holder and this projection may be more out of hope than it is out of reason and reality. But if you've been coming to this blog for quality content and/or 100% objectivity, you should know by now that's not what you are getting. The Cyclones should take a step back this season, almost with question after losing such a talented 2017 class. I think Coach Prohm still gets these guys to the NCAA Tournament though.
I couldn't tell you a single player on the Texas Tech roster this season. Not that it should come as a surprise to anyone by any means but they've seemed to over-achieve the past couple seasons. Texas Tech used to be an assumed "W" when you saw it on your schedule but that's not the case any more. The NCAA Tournament is even a possibility for the boys in Lubbock this year. I think they fall short of that goal but I wouldn't be shocked to see "Red Raiders" come up on Selection Sunday either.
I feel like this is a "put up, or shut up" year from Shaka Smart. He came into Austin with an inordinate amount of fan fare after his run in the A-10 Conference at VCU. His results so far after two years at Texas have been scattered. His first year he rode NBA stud, and Rick Barnes recruit, Myles Turner to a 4th place conference finish. Last year without Myles, a last place finish. Last place. I've never been a Shaka Smart guy so I'm predicting Texas finishes closer to 10th place than 1st place again this season.
Okie State touts a likely first team All-Conference pick on their squad in Jeffrey Carroll......and not much else. And they seem to be caught up in this "FBI investigation" going around in college basketball right now. And they have a new coach. Not an ideal combination there.
I'm not locked into the sports scene in Manhatten, Kansas but I'm not really sure what there is to look forward to this year for Kansas State basketball. Iwundu is gone, as is D.J. Johnson from last season....and I'm just not sure who is there to replace them or to even get excited about. Seems like a long, boring year for the Wildcats this season.