With the non-conference season coming to a close, we will be previewing each of the power six conferences based on what we have learned so far this year and guide you through what to look out for as the season continues.
Here is your guide to the Big 12.
All Conference Team
G: Frank Mason III, Kansas
G: Manu Lecomte, Baylor
G: Juwan Evans, Oklahoma State
F: Nathan Adrian, West Virginia
F: Josh Jackson, Kansas
Conference Player of the Year: Frank Mason III, Kansas
Frank Mason is by far the best player in the Big 12 and his impact is felt in every Kansas game. He is a complete point guard that can drive, dish, and shoot from anywhere on the court. Combine those skills with his experience and late game magic (he has already beat Duke on a last second shot) and that is the makings of the conference player of the year.
3 Things We’ve Learned
- Kansas is Kansas. Kansas has won the Big-12 since Perry Ellis was a baby (he was born around 1920). This year is no different as Kansas is the team to beat. Allen Field House gives the Jayhawks an extra advantage as well.
- Baylor is legit. Baylor may not have the track record that Kansas has but this team is legit. Manu Lecomte is a very skilled point guard, Jonathon Motley is a very skilled big, and Ish Wainwright does all the little things for the Bears. Baylor’s non conference schedule included wins over Xavier, Michigan State, Louisville, VCU, and Oregon. The Bears are well rounded and ready to potentially make a run to end Kansas’s streak.
- The conference is deep. The bottom of the Big 12 has gone through a transformation this season. Oklahoma State and TCU both have new head coaches and have looked very strong in non conference play, Texas has very young talented players, and Texas Tech and Kansas State are both top 30 teams. The Big 12 is very deep and there are no bottom feeders in the conference this year.
3 Storylines to Watch
- Can anyone beat Kansas? Baylor and West Virginia are top tier teams but the main story line of the Big 12 is can anyone other than Kansas win the conference. Kansas has won the conference title for the past 11 years.
- Upperclassmen Rule the Conference. Freshmen are new and exciting but the Big 12 and Big East are two conferences that are run by the upperclassmen. The conference has only two impact freshmen in Josh Jackson and Jaylen Fisher. Most teams are led by a junior or senior with tons of experience: Frank Mason III (Kansas), Nathan Adrian (West Virginia), Monte Morris (Iowa State), Jordan Woodard (Oklahoma), Ish Wainwright (Baylor), Anthony Livingston (Texas Tech), Brandon Parrish (TCU), Wesley Iwundu (Kansas State), and Phil Forte (Oklahoma State). Texas is the only team that is not led by a senior or upperclassmen.
- Longhorns in state of flux. Shaka Smart is rebuilding Texas in his image but it has not gone as plan to this point. He has young talented players but the results have not shown on the court. If Shaka Smart can turn these talented freshmen and sophomores into a formidable team, the Longhorns can make noise in the Big 12.
Sleeper Team: Oklahoma State
I have been very high on Oklahoma State since they hired Brad Underwood from Stephen F. Austin. Underwood brings an emphasis on fundaments that has led to a quick turn around in Stillwater. Juwan Evans is a future NBA player and his talent alone will keep the Cowboys competitive in conference games but if their role players can continue to improve they will be a sleeper team in the conference.
NCAA Tournament Position
- West Virgina
Work to do
- Oklahoma State
- Texas Tech
- Iowa State
- Kansas State
Better Luck Next Year
5 Games to Watch
- TCU vs. West Virginia- January 7, 1 pm, ESPNU
- Baylor vs. TCU- January 21, 8pm, ESPNU
- Kansas vs. West Virginia- February 1, 9 pm, ESPN2
- Kansas vs. Baylor- February 18, 1pm, CBS
- Oklahoma State vs. Kansas- March 4, 6pm, ESPN