Big 12 Preview
4. Oklahoma State
5. Texas Tech
6. West Virginia
9. Kansas State
10. Iowa State
Player of the Year – Remy Martin (Kansas)
Coach of the Year – Bill Self (Kansas)
Freshman of the Year – Kendall Brown (Baylor)
Field of 68 Teams
1. Kansas Jayhawks (2020-2021 Record: 21-9, 12-6)
Kansas brings back some elite talent from last season’s round of 32 team. That talent includes four returning starters Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack. That lineup is a great team already, but Bill Self was not content and still did some work in the transfer portal to find his new starting point guard, Remy Martin. Martin was one of the best guards in the entire nation last year averaging 19.1 points and 3.7 assists with Arizona State. His ability to score the ball and make threes at a high clip is why he is my pick for Big 12 player of the year. KU’s defense will suffer with the departure of Marcus Garret but Martin gives them a high-volume scoring option that they missed at times during last year’s campaign. Bill Self is in his 19th season in Lawrence and has been one of the best coaches in basketball over that time. I am going to trust Bill Self and this veteran team to get back to their old Kansas ways and win the league in 2022.
2. Texas Longhorns (2020-2021 Record: 19-8, 11-6)
The biggest story line in the Big 12 this offseason was Chris Beard leaving Texas Tech and accepting a job for in state rival University of Texas. Beard joins a talented group at Texas that previously got upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a number three seed. That upset resulted in former coach Shaka Smart to move on and take his talents to Marquette, leaving Texas in need of a new head coach to run their program. UT brings back guards Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones from last season who will be hungry for a better performance in this year’s big dance. Beard scored big in the transfer portal as he moved cities bringing in Marcus Carr, Devin Askew, Tre Mitchell, Dylan Disu, Timmy Allen, and Christian Bishop. One of the best transfers in the entire portal, Marcus Carr, chose Chris Beard and Texas as his next destination giving Texas one of the most loaded backcourts in the country. Carr averaged 19.4 points and 4.9 assists per game at Minnesota last season. He is an All-American type of player and gives Texas a chance to win the Big 12 as well as the National Championship. Texas @ Gonzaga on November 13th will give us our first look on just how good this team will be.
3. Baylor Bears (2020-2021 Record: 28-2, 13-1)
The reigning national champs will take a step back losing their top four players from a year ago, but not as far of a step back as you might think. The Bears lose an all-time great backcourt in Davion Mitchell, Jarred Butler and Macio Teague but still come in as an AP top 10 team. Not many teams are able to say that EVER. That is some high praise for Scott Drew in his 19th season as head coach. Do not be fooled, this is still a very talented roster following their incredible 28-2 campaign. Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer are looking to take a leap this season after playing quality minutes off the bench and James Akinjo will look to continue his high major basketball success after averaging 15.6 PPG at Arizona. People are sleeping on Akinjo’s ability considering he has had success everywhere he has been, and this team is the most talented team he has been on thus far. He could easily make most of us look silly and at the end of the season be the Big 12 player of the year. Lastly, let’s not forget that Drew also went out and added five-star freshman Kendall Brown who will have an impact right out of the gates in his rookie campaign. A repeat as champions is highly unlikely but the Bears will still be in the hunt for this league championship once again.
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys (2020-2021 Record: 21-9, 11-7)
The unfortunate news recently came out stating that Oklahoma State will not be able to participate in the post season this year, according to Jon Rothstein. This decision by the NCAA comes after they failed to give the University an update before the 2021 tournament. Such a shame that the kids on this team will be unable to participate in the big dance from a crime committed when they were in high school. COME ON… As we deep deeper into this team, the Cowboys lost All-American Cade Cunningham to the NBA draft after a disappointing loss in the round of 32 to Oregon State. Losing the #1 overall pick in the NBA draft does hurt indeed, but OSU brings back everyone else from last season as well as former five-star recruits Bryce Thompson and Moussa Cisse from the transfer portal. Cisse was the AAC rookie the year last season and will give them a massive presence inside especially on the defensive end. Avery Anderson III will need to develop into this teams go to guy for the Cowboys to have the similar success they had last season. He played extremely well down the stretch for Mike Boynton, and I am expecting him to have a breakout year. The Cade era is over already but this team is not going anywhere just yet. I expect them back to finish in the middle of the pack in this league even though their season will end sooner than teams behind them due to the ridiculous postseason ban.
5. Texas Tech Raiders (2020-2021 Record: 18-11, 9-8)
Chris Beard has moved on to the University of Texas and I will guess that that move does not sit well with Raiders fans one bit. Mark Adams turned down the offer to go to Texas with Beard and stayed loyal to Raider nation becoming their newest head coach. The Raiders will not take much of a step back on the defensive side of the floor as Adams was the mastermind behind the stellar defense Tech has had these past few seasons. Adams was able to bring back Terrance Shannon Jr., who is on my preseason All-Big 12 first team, and an absolute haul of transfers to fill out this roster. The two other returnees Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva are outstanding pieces coming back and will be extremely important if Tech wants to reach the Big Dance once again. Just like with most first-year head coaches, I expect some inconsistency at the start of the season, but I believe Tech will be back in the tournament because of the talent they have. I am also confident that all of Raider nation has February 1st circled, underlined, highlighted, etc.
6. West Virginia Mountaineers (2020-2021 Record: 19-10, 11-6)
Mountaineer star Miles McBride decided to keep his name in the NBA Draft after an All-Big 2nd team season. That was a surprising decision to some people as he got drafted 36th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder and then traded to the New York Knicks. That decision was a huge blow for Bob Huggins team as he enters his 15th season at WV. I am personally not a fan of Huggins statement expressing that he wants the power conferences to have their own tournament, but I am a fan of his ability to adapt to his personnel. His team will regress this season but bringing back starters Sean McNeil and Jalen Bridges will keep them on the right side of the bubble. Bridges in his sophomore season should get to the next level as a player and fill in for the loss of Derek Culver. Experience usually wins games at the college level and West Virginia has just that. The return of Senior McNeil and Senior Taz Sherman helps as well as the additions of 5th year transfers Dimon Carrigan, Pauly Paulicap and Malik Curry gives this team the experience needed to win close games. I will never stop calling them Press Virginia no matter what kind of team Huggins has though.
7. Oklahoma Sooners (2020-2021 Record: 16-11, 9-8)
Lon Kruger decided to hang em up, so Oklahoma landed the most sought out coach on the market, Porter Moser. Moser and Sister Jean did a phenomenal job at Loyola building their brand and leading them on those two NCAA tourneys runs. Like West Virginia, this team might regress a tad finishing in the bottom half of the loaded Big 12. Luckily, I believe seven teams in this conference will get a bid to the big dance in March. Eijah Harkless and Umoja Gibson are the two starters that will back and play a big role for the Sooners one last time. Moser was active in the transfer portal in attempt to fill out the rest of his small roster. He landed a haul including Tanner Groves (Eastern Washington), Jacob Groves (Eastern Washington), Ethan Chargois (SMU), Marvin Johnson (Eastern Illinois), and Akol Mawein (JUCO). That roster should be enough to get OU back in the tournament, but I expect some up and downs in Moser’s first season in high major basketball.
1st Team All-Big 12
G Marcus Carr (Texas)
G Remy Martin (Kansas)
G Matthew Mayer (Baylor)
F Terrance Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech)
C David McCormack (Kansas)
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