Preseason Edition Big 12 Power Rankings
With Mizzou Gone, Who Will Win This Season's Big 12 Championship?
As regular season games begin this week in college basketball, it’s time to put out one last list of power rankings before the contests that matter kick off.
This season, the Big 12 conference again looks to be a powerhouse in the nation and send multiple teams to the Big Dance in March. However, the conference is undergoing a little bit of an identity change. Of course, Kansas and Baylor will find their names printed in the Associated Press biweekly, but Missouri has now left for the SEC and opened the door for a few other teams to make noise in the south.
The league has added a former Big East contender West Virginia, and a total wildcard in TCU from the Mountain West, but also has of three or four other Big 12 regulars who are looking to make some noise.
Throughout the course of this 2012-2013 college basketball season, Rant Sports CAA Correspondent Jake Fischer will be bringing you weekly Big 12 Power Rankings every Thursday. During the season, the Rankings will be determined by each team’s respective week-by-week successes and failures, along with strength of schedule.
With all that being said, it’s time to dive into the preseason power rankings. Who will be the next Big 12 champion now that Mizzou has left the conference’s den?
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. He will also be contributing weekly Big 12 Power Rankings during the 2012-2013 NCAAB season. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @fischsportsline.
No. 10- TCU Horned Frogs
Heading into their respective first season in the Big 12, the TCU Horned Frogs have nothing even close to the expectations that West Virginia has for this year. Coming over from the Mountain West as another replacement for the teams that left the Big 12 due to conference realignment, TCU is a complete wildcard for this upcoming season. But, unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, the question isn’t how successful they’ll be, it’s whether or not they’ll avoid being the worst team in the league. That will be a tough task, considering they have lost last season’s team’s top-two scorers in Hank Thorns and J.R. Cadot to graduation. Now, it’s up to Garlon Green, Amric Fields and Kyan Anderson to lead TCU as they test the high-major waters. But, if you go 18-15 in the Mountain West, things don’t look to bright for your team in their first season in the Big 12.
No. 9- Texas Tech Red Raiders
The 2012-2013 Texas Tech Red Raiders enter the season with the dark, ominous shadow of the Billy Gillispie controversy this offseason. Now, the Red Raiders will be led by interim head coach Chris Walker, who will have plenty to try and handle this winter. In addition to Tech only earning an overall 8-23 record last season, they also lost a top scorer in Javarez Willis to Ohio. Walker still returns four of last year’s top five scorers, but of those top scorers, only one averaged double figures, Jordan Tolbert, and he only put up 11.5 points per contest. Look for the Red Raiders to once again struggle to score the basketball this winter.
No. 8- Iowa State Cyclones
In 2011-2012, the Iowa State Cyclones were surprisingly successful in head coach Fred Hoiberg’s first season. But, Hoiberg was very, very fortunate to be the man leading a team that featured the talented Royce White, who is now a member of the Houston Rockets. White will be very difficult to replace, and now upperclassmen, Melvin Ejim and Cris Babb, must attempt to fill his large shoes. Look for the Cyclones to struggle this season in one of the nation’s toughest conferences.
No. 7- Oklahoma Sooners
After going only 5-13 in head coach Lon Kruger’s first season, the Oklahoma Sooners look to do much better in 2012-2013. While the club lost Calvin Newell to Central Florida, the team still brings back 4 of last season’s top 5 scorers in Romero Osby, Steven Pledger, Andrew Fitz and Cameron Clark. They also bring in transfers, Amath M’Baye, formerly of Wyoming, and Jarod Krugar, formerly of Kansas State. The Sooners do have many experienced players, but their not as experienced as some of the conference’s other teams. If they can get things rolling, they may be able to surprise some people this season as well, but Kruger should still struggle a little to gather his troops early in the season.
No. 6- West Virginia Mountaineers
The West Virginia Mountaineers are about to begin their first-ever season in the Big 12 after spending decades competing in the Big East. Head coach Bob Huggins club was one of the teams offered to replace Texas A&M who went to the SEC along with Missouri. Beginning their existence in the predominantly southern league, WVU is without their top-two leading scorers from last season’s 19-14 team. Kevin Jones led the team in scoring with 19.9 points per game and Darryl Bryant finished just behind him at 16.9, before they both graduated in the spring. Now, the scoring and leadership load is on the shoulders of the team’s other three top-5 scorers from last season, Deniz Kelici, Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne. If Huggins can get his leaders going in the right direction, the Mountaineers may be able to crack the top-5 of the conference, but will most likely be just on the outside looking in.
No. 5- Kansas State Wildcats
This season, the Kansas State Wildcats enter the post Frank Martin era. Now, under new head coach Bruce Weber from Illinois, the Wildcats look to improve on a relatively impressive 22-11 season last year. The program deals Weber a grand hand of talented players, even considering they lost 2011-2012’s second-leading scorer, Jamar Samuels, to graduation. The Wildcats return four of last year’s top five scorers, including unanimous Preseason All-Big 12 Team selection, Rodney McGruder, Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez and Jordan Henriquez, all who averaged above or close to double figures. With such effective talent still in place, the Wildcats could make a lot of noise in Weber’s first season.
No. 4- Texas Longhorns
Per usual, the Texas Longhorns rank in the top-5 of the conference heading into another college basketball season. They’re still lead by veteran head coach, Rick Barnes, still have nationally recognized talent and still wear fresh orange and white jerseys. While they did lose J’Covan Brown and Clint Chapman to graduation, the Longhorns are still loaded with top-scorers and contributors. From last season’s 20-14 team, Barnes still has four of his top six scorers in 2012-2013 Preseason All-Big 12 Team selection in Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan, Julien Lewis and Jonathan Holmes. Look for Texas to once again make a run at a ticket to the Big Dance in March.
No. 3- Oklahoma State Cowboys
Heading into head coach Travis Ford’s 4th season in charge of the Oklahoma State Cowboys program, the Cowboys look to make some noise this season, despite only finishing 15-18 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12 in 2011-2012. State lost high-scoring guard Keiton Page, but return four of their top five leading scorers from last season in Le’Bryan Nash, a Preason All-Big 12 Team selection, Markel Brown, Brian Williams and Jean Paul-Olukemi. Also, keep on the lookout the contributions that freshman guard, Marcus Smart, looks to add to this club as well. With their experienced and cohesive pieces in place, the Cowboys have all the tools to catapult themselves into the top-5 of this prestigious conference.
No. 2- Baylor Bears
In coach Scott Drew’s 10th season at the helm, the Bears are still looking primed to appear in the national spotlight once again this season. Coming in at No. 19 in the AP’s preseason poll, the Bears still retain a lot of talent from last season despite losing a bevy of key players. The Bears lost stars Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller to the NBA. But, the green and yellow still have many contributors from last year’s successful team. In 2012-2013, Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, Pierre Jackson, who can carve defenses off the dribble at will, will be the face of the team this season, but also has some help. The Bears still have sharpshooter Brady Heslip and bring in a big freshman center, Isaiah Austin to patrol the paint. Look the Bears to still compete atop the conference this season.
No. 1- Kansas Jayhawks
The unanimous top selection in the Big 12 Preseason Standings, the Jayhawks are poised to make yet another run at the conference championship this season. Led by legendary head coach, Bill Self, Kansas not only is expected to win the conference, but also has received plenty of national acclaim, earning the 7-spot in the AP’s preseason rankings. While the Jayhawks did lose key starters Thomas Robinson and Tayshawn Taylor to the NBA, the team still brings back plenty of impact players from last year’s squad. Star center, Jeff Withey, a unanimous Preseason All-Big 12 team selection, heads the roster, along with Elijah Robinson, Travis Releford and Kevin Young who are all looking to improve off of their impressive 2011-2012 campaigns. Look for Kansas to not only compete in the Big 12, but deep in the NCAA Tournament as well, this season.