Big 12 Preview

Story posted November 3, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Matthew McClure

With half of the teams in the Big 12 making the NCAA Tournament last year, the conference looks to have another strong season upcoming. Many other teams were on the bubble as well last year and look to make a push for March Madness when the time comes. With all that being said, let’s dive into Big 12 basketball for this upcoming year.

Kansas

The Jayhawks, led by legendary coach Bill Self, are looking to have another great season. Self and Kansas went on to a 31-8 record before losing in the Elite Eight to the eventual national champions, the Villanova Wildcats.

This year, the Jayhawks look to get back to that position and dominate the conference as they have done for years. Although Kansas is losing Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailuik and Malik Newman this year, the Jayhawks are bringing in an array of transfers with brothers Dedric and KJ Lawson and Charlie Moore.

They also have the fifth best-recruiting class coming into this year. The Jayhawks will look to win their 15th straight regular season title, but the new players coming in are going to have to step up.

West Virginia

The Mountaineers are always one of the deepest teams in the country. Losing leaders Javon Carter and Daxter Miles will be tough to replace but with three of the five starters coming back they will be fine.

They bring back one of the best big men in the country in Sagaba Konate. Head Coach Bob Huggins loves quick guards that can defend and he is hoping the new recruits can hop into that role.

Guys like Lamont West, Wesley Harris and Esa Ahmad are all returning players this year. The frontcourt is where the Mountaineers will be dominant this year and look for West Virginia to compete in the Big 12 once again this year.

Baylor

Head Coach Scott Drew is hoping the Baylor Bears have a better season this year.  Last year the Bears were on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament throughout the season.

Baylor brings back guard King McClure and forwards Tristan Clark and Mark Vital. The Bears also bring in transfer Mario Kegler from Mississippi State, where he started 31 games as a freshman in 2016-17.

Also, Baylor brings in top recruit Jared Butler, who is looking to have a strong first season. The Bears are hoping this new crop of players is the difference in where they finish in the Big 12.

Iowa State

The Iowa State Cyclones had a tough year last season by finishing 13-18. For a few years in years past, the Cyclones were considered a top-tier team in the conference.

The good news for the Cyclones this year is that most of their players are returning this year, led by guard Lindell Wigginton. Wigginton averaged 16.7 points per game last year and is hoping to improve on that mark this year.

Also, forward Cam Leonard is looking to have a breakout year this season. Look for head coach Steve Prohm’s team to be right in the mix for the NCAA Tournament this season.

Kansas State

The Kansas State Wildcats snuck their way in the NCAA Tournament last year and made some noise while they were there. The Wildcats fought their way to the Elite Eight before losing to Loyola-Chicago.

This season the Wildcats return most of their players from last year. Dean Wade, Barry Brown Jr., Xavier Sneed and Komau Spikes are all returning players, who had a significant impact on their run in the tournament. Look for head coach Bruce Weber’s club to be in top half of the Big 12 this year and a top seed in the tournament.

Oklahoma

After a hot start to the season last year for the Oklahoma Sooners, teams figured out how to stop them, and they went on to lose 11 of 15 games to end the season. The Sooners did make the tournament last year with an 18-14 record but lost to Rhode Island in the first round.

Guard Trae Young led the Sooners in pretty much every offensive category and now that he is gone, returning players like Christian James, Brady Manek and transfer from Maine Aaron Calixte will have to step up.

The Sooners could quietly be good if their point guard play pans out. It will be difficult to replace Young, so other guys will need to rise to the occasion for the Sooners to be successful.

Oklahoma State

Another team that was on the bubble throughout the season was the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Although they didn’t make the tournament the Cowboys finished with a 21-15 record.

Returning guards Lindy Waters III and Thomas Dziagwa and forward Cameron McGriff have to have good years for the Cowboys to make a run this year. Oklahoma State doesn’t look that good on paper, but last year’s team didn’t either and we saw what they are capable of. It will be interesting to see where the Cowboys finish this year.

TCU

Jaime Dixon's TCU Horned Frogs had an incredible season last year. The Horned Frogs made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 and look to get back there this season.

With five returning players and eight newcomers, this season TCU is looking to be in the top half of the Big 12. Look for guards Alex Robinson, and Desmond Banes to be the leaders for Horned Frogs for this upcoming season.

Texas

The Texas Longhorns snuck into the NCAA Tournament last year. One of the best big men in the conference last year was Mo Bamba, and with him going to the NBA in the offseason the Longhorns have to replace him.

They do return guard Kerwin Roach, who was one of their best two-way players last year. Also, the Longhorns have forward Dylan Osetkowski and transfer guard from St. Mary’s Elijah Mitrou-Long playing this year.

Texas is expected to be in the top half of the Big 12, but we will have to see where they finish this year.

Texas Tech

The Texas Tech Red Raiders were a major surprise last year. The Red Raiders went on to make the NCAA Tournament and got all the way to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.

This season the Red Raiders lost a lot of scoring with Zhaire Smith, Zach Smith, Niem Stevenson, Zach Smith, Tommy Hamilton IV and Justin Gray all leaving. However, they return Jarrett Culver, who has a chance to be one of the best players in college basketball.

Graduate transfer Matt Mooney averaged close to 19 points per game at South Dakota last year and is a big addition Red Raiders. Although Texas Tech is losing a lot of scoring this year, it could have another strong season.

 

Matthew McClure is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mcm5964@psu.edu.