Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a preview of each of the seven major college basketball conferences (American, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12, SEC), leading up to the November 10th tip-off of the 2017-2018 College Basketball season. You can access previous previews by clicking on the conference name. Today, we’re going to dive into the Big 12.
Brief History: The Big 12 came into existence in 1996, combining the former Big Eight Conference with several members of the former Southwest Conference. The Big 12 has won one NCAA basketball championship, when Kansas took the crown in 2008. The conference has been led by Commissioner Bob Bowlsby since 2012.
Reigning Regular Season Champion: Kansas
Reigning Conference Tournament Champion: Iowa State
2017 NCAA Tournament Teams (and Seed): Kansas (1), Baylor (3), West Virginia (4), Iowa State (5), Oklahoma State (10), Kansas State (11)
- Kansas – Losing a player like Frank Mason is always difficult, but Senior PG Devonte’ Graham is ready to help lead the program in his absence. Graham has to be the early favorite for conference player of the year. As deep as this conference is, it would be a big shock if anyone besides the Jayhawks took the regular season title.
- West Virginia – “Press” Virginia is always a fun team to watch with their relentless defense. Senior PG Jevon Carter is back to help lead the Mountaineers, who will be without star Junior PF Esa Ahmad for the first semester due to NCAA ineligibility. If this team’s offense gets hot, it can beat anyone in the nation.
- TCU – Vladimir Brodziansky is an absolute beast in the paint, and is perhaps one of the more underrated players in the country. With the help of guards Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher, Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs will be a force to be reckoned with, and should be dancing for the first time in two decades.
- Baylor – The loss of inside man Johnathan Motley is a big one for the Bears. They’ll struggle to replace his production both in scoring and rebounding. The good news for Baylor is that they’re an extremely experienced team. All five of their starters will likely be upperclassmen.
- Oklahoma – The Sooners are an extremely strong defensive team. They’ll rely a lot on the play of young players this year to try to heat up the offense, including Freshman PG Trae Young, one of the most exciting young prospects in college basketball coming into this season.
- Iowa State – The Cyclones will look a lot different this season, losing their top four point scorers from last year. They’ll rely a lot on transfers to power this offense. Last year, this team lived and died by their ability to sink the long ball, and we could see the same this season.
- Texas Tech – The Red Raiders are the most experienced team in the Big 12, with all five current projected starters in their senior year. The return of Keenan Evans and Zach Smith could help finish the job that the Raiders failed to complete last season: making the NCAA tournament.
- Kansas State – The Wildcats lost Wesley Iwundu to the NBA Draft, an absolutely huge loss. This team, now led by a trio of juniors, won’t be quite as electric on offense this season, but should be able to hold their own defensively.
- Texas – Last year the Longhorns had the worst offense in the Big 12, and the same is likely to happen again this season. Freshman big man Mohamed Bamba will try to help inject some scoring into this team, but it likely won’t be enough to make a splash in this conference.
- Oklahoma State – The Cowboys have a solid offense, but they’re really going to struggle on the defensive side. Expect this team to be on the losing side of a lot of high scoring games in conference play.
Bottom Line: This conference is good in an unprecedented way. Ken Pomeroy’s rankings have every single one of these teams in the top 50 of preseason adjusted efficiency margin. Joe Lunardi predicted in August that eight out of the 10 teams in the conference would go to the NCAA tournament, and some experts are predicting that all 10 could potentially go. This conference is deep, talented, and should be amazing to witness this season.