It shouldn’t be a shock on who the top five teams in the Big 12 are. There’s an argument for the fifth position, but both Baylor and Iowa State are nearly the unanimous third and fourth selections, respectively. But what about the top two in the conference?
Right now, who knows. Both Kansas and Oklahoma State have valid arguments to be at the top spot before play begins. With Marcus Smart coming back to the Cowboys, everyone picked them as the unanimous top team before Andrew Wiggins, who’s being hailed as the next LeBron James, decided to play with the Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks have a slight edge, but let’s just say it’s going to be fun watching these two teams, along with the top of the conference in general, fight it out for the Big 12 championship.
1. Kansas Jayhawks
It’s not all about Wiggins. Two other freshman, Wayne Selden and Frank Mason, should be an immediate impact along with Memphis transfer Tarik Black and Perry Ellis bringing in experience to Kansas’ frontcourt. This team is going to dominate the smaller schools and will face interesting tests against Duke, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Georgetown, and San Diego State to get them ready for conference play. Just like Kentucky, it’s not rebuilding, it’s reloading.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Smart averaged a team-high 15.4 points, 4.2 assists, and three steals per game last season. But don’t overlook Markel Brown (averaged 15.2 points last season) and Mike Cobbins (had a team-high 6.1 rebounds) who return for their senior season. This will be the ultimate test of team that’s been together against Kansas’ team of talented, assembled players. They won’t be nearly as tested as Kansas will be through non-conference play.
3. Baylor Bears
JUCO transfer Kenny Chery will soften the blow of losing Pierre Jackson at point guard. Also, Denver transfer Royce O’Neale (11 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game last season) was granted a hardship waiver, loading up the backcourt that will contend with OSU for best in the Big 12. However, this team is absolutely stacked up front with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson who stuck around for another season. If the transfers make a huge impact in the backcourt, this team can win the conference.
4. Iowa State Cyclones
Full preview will be released on Saturday.
5. Kansas State Wildcats
There’s questions concerning all the players they’ll have to replace, including Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez, and Angel Rodriguez. They come in with seven new players, but this higher ranking is mainly in part of Bruce Weber. He’s a tremendous college basketball coach that overachieved last season winning a share of the conference regular-season title. He’ll have enough talent in the backcourt, especially when Jevon Thomas returns from academic ineligibility. Besides, who in the bottom half of the league truly deserves this spot?