The Bottoms Line: Big 12 Season Preview, Predictions, POY Pick, and All Conference Team

As was the case with the Pac-12, I took an early look at the Big 12 a few months ago, so it’s time to revisit what is now the smallest of the six major conferences.

A few players expected to play key roles for their teams won’t be suiting up this season, which should have a significant impact on the conference race.  In putting together my predictions for the league, it was actually easier to slot in the last two teams than it was the first two.

perry-jones-baylor-big-12-2011-12-season-predictionsBefore we get to those predictions, here’s what has changed since my first look at the league.

  •  Baylor: The Bears played a four-game exhibition tour in Toronto, and the offense looked solid, averaging better than 90 points per game.  Perry Jones led the team in scoring with 20.3 points and hit 59 percent from the field.  Boston College transfer Brady Heslip was red hot from the outside, connecting on 41.7 percent from deep and pouring in 16.5 points per contest.  Redshirt freshman Cory Jefferson played well on the trip with Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller sitting out, which adds another weapon to an already deep frontline.
  • Iowa State: Like Baylor, the Cyclones embarked on a foreign tour, with ISU heading to Italy.  Royce White followed up his summer league triple-double with an impressive trip.  He posted a pair of double-doubles and routinely put up impressive numbers in multiple offensive categories.  Chris Babb and Melvin Ejim were among a slew of other Cyclones to play well on the trip.
  • Kansas: Don’t expect the NCAA Clearinghouse to get a Christmas card from Bill Self this winter.  Three incoming freshmen, Braeden Anderson, Ben McLemore, and Jamari Traylor, were all deemed partial qualifiers and will be ineligible to play this year.  The Jayhawks did add Kevin Young, a Loyola Marymount transfer who spurned San Diego State at the last minute to head to Kansas.  Expect him to play a huge role given the lack of depth in Lawrence.
  • Missouri: Senior forward Laurence Bowers tore his ACL and will miss the season.  While the Tigers have a lot of depth, the one area where they are thin is up front.  Outside of Ricardo Ratliffe, the only big guys on the roster are senior Steve Moore and redshirt freshman Kadeem Green, which may force first-year coach Frank Haith to go with Kim English at the four.
  • Oklahoma State: The Cowboys picked up another big man, as seven-footer Marek Soucek signed in September.  The Czech native played at the Canaris Academy in Spain last season and has a chance to earn playing time given the lack of experienced bigs on the roster.  Recently, freshman point guard Cezar Guerrero suffered a scary neck injury in practice, but all signs point to a full recovery.
  • Texas: After being granted a release from his letter of intent to Pittsburgh, forward Jaylen Bond signed with the Longhorns.  It was initially believed Bond would attend prep school, but he is heading to Austin instead, where he joins a relatively inexperienced Texas front line.
  • Texas A&M: New coach Billy Kennedy is currently spending time away from his new post to deal with an undisclosed medical situation.  No details have really surfaced around the actual medical condition or how long he will be out.  The Aggies also took an exhibition trip this summer, traveling to Europe for a four-game tour.  Washington transfer Elston Turner led the team with 13.8 points per game while David Loubeau paced the squad with 9.3 boards per contest.

With all that in mind, here are my predictions for the league this season:

Big 12 Predictions: Standings

1. Baylor

I picked the Bears to win the league over the summer, and nothing has happened to change my opinion.  Their front line is as deep as any team in the country with Perry Jones, Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones, Quincy Miller, and the aforementioned Jefferson.

The biggest question here is at point guard, but I expect Pierre Jackson to provide the stability that A.J. Walton didn’t and Gary Franklin can’t.  Brady Heslip gives them a solid outside shooter to complement the athleticism of Deuce Bello.

While there is validity to some of the concerns around Scott Drew’s coaching track record, the talent level is certainly worthy of a conference champ.

2. Texas A&M

The more I look at this team, the more I like them.

They have an all-conference player on the wing in Khris Middleton to go with David Loubeau up front.  Kourtney Roberson showed flashes last season and should have a smooth transition into an expanded role.  As mentioned above, Washington transfer Elston Turner led the team in scoring on their exhibition trip and gives the team another reliable scorer.

Like Baylor, the biggest question mark is at the point.  Dash Harris returns, but don’t be shocked if true freshman Jamal Branch eventually earns the starting job.

3. Kansas

It’s hard to project anyone but the Jayhawks to win the Big 12, but there just isn’t enough depth on the roster.

I expect big things from both Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, and Elijah Johnson seems poised for a productive season.  Kevin Young will be counted on to contribute right away inside, because Jeff Withey simply hasn’t shown anything when he’s been on the floor.  The same could be said of Travis Releford, who will now be counted on to produce as a senior.

I like freshman Naadir Tharpe as a point guard and leader, but this team has too many unknowns to be picked to win the league.

4. Missouri

You cannot overstate the loss of Laurence Bowers, who did a little bit of everything for the Tigers.  That puts a ton of pressure on Ricardo Ratliffe inside, because there are no other proven commodities down low.  Consequently, Kim English may be forced to play the four, which would put Mizzou at a disadvantage defensively.

There is a glut of talented guards with Marcus Denmon, Flip Pressey, Michael Dixon, and English, but I’m not convinced that new coach Frank Haith’s style will allow them to take full advantage of that depth.

5. Oklahoma State

These next four teams are all evenly matched, but there are a number of things to like about the Cowboys.

First and foremost is stud freshman LeBryan Nash, who will make an immediate impact and be one of the league’s most explosive scorers.  J.P. Olukemi averaged double-digit points in just over 20 minutes per game and is poised for a breakout season.  Veteran guard Keiton Page also returns, and backcourt mate Reger Dowell showed potential during the home stretch of the season.

The Pokes are yet another team with point guard questions, although freshman Cezar Guerrero may be the answer.  Someone needs to step up inside, with the most likely candidates juco transfer Philip Jurick, who nearly averaged a triple-double last season, and redshirt freshman Michael Cobbins, who missed last season while recovering from injury.

6. Texas

After being crushed by early entrants to the NBA Draft, there is very little returning talent for the Longhorns.

Guard J’Covan Brown is the only returnee to average more than 2.3 points, and he should lead the team in scoring.  Freshman Myck Kabongo was a top 10 recruit and should excel running the point for Rick Barnes.  There are huge question marks inside, and you certainly can’t assume veterans Alexis Wangmene and Clint Chapman will suddenly become reliable options in the post.

There will be a major reliance on freshmen at virtually every position, and while many of the recruits like Sheldon McClellan, Julien Lewis, Jonathan Holmes, and Sterling Gibbs were highly rated, that will lead to growing pains early on.

7. Kansas State

With Jacob Pullen gone, Rodney McGruder will be asked to should the scoring load, and there’s plenty of things to like about his overall game.  Will Spradling showed some flashes as a freshman, but a number of newcomers should also factor into the backcourt rotation.

Up front, Jamar Samuels will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing junior year, and big man Jordan Henriquez needs to maintain his level of production while logging expanded minutes.  Coach Frank Martin has already praised the team’s improved depth, which should lead to a more aggressive attack on both ends of the floor.

8. Iowa State

Along with Oklahoma State, the Cyclones are the biggest wild card in the league.

Transfers Royce White, Chris Babb, Chris Allen, and Anthony Booker will play large roles on the team with sharpshooter Scott Christopherson and forward Melvin Ejim the only returnees of note.  I’m all in on White and his wide array of skills, and the experience in Italy should serve this team well going forward.  Replacing Diante Garrett at the point will prove to be difficult, and there isn’t a ton of size on the roster.

A few newcomers have the potential to help out in both areas, but there is a pretty wide range of potential outcomes for ISU this year.  They are definitely a team to watch in the early going.

9. Oklahoma

Lon Kruger walked into a team with a number of players returning, but the problem is that team went 14-18 last season.

Andrew Fitzgerald and Cameron Clark give him some building blocks, but point guard Carl Blair struggles with shooting and turnovers while Steven Pledger has been plagued by inconsistency.  Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby should factor heavily into the team’s plans, and a number of newcomers will see major minutes out of necessity.

The rebuilding process is on in Norman.

10. Texas Tech

Speaking of rebuilding, Billy Gillispie returns just one player, forward Robert Lewandowski, who averaged over 5.0 points.  Utah transfer Marshall Henderson should lead the team in scoring, and there are more new players than I even have room to list here.

Two true freshmen to watch are Toddrick Gotcher and Terran Petteway, both of whom should get plenty of run this year.  With so many new faces, it will take time for roles to be defined and the team to gel.

Big 12 Predictions: POY and All-Conference Team

Player of the Year: Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas

Robinson was limited to fewer than 15 minutes per game last season with the Morris twins dominating frontcourt playing time for the Jayhawks.  Still, T-Rob averaged 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting over 60 percent from the field.

With the Morrii gone and limited depth on the roster, Robinson will more than double his playing time, and even if he falls short of doubling his production, he could still average a double-double.  Given his gaudy rebounding percentages and his relentless nature on both the offensive and defensive glass, Robinson is a virtual lock to average double-digit rebounds, and if the offensive game he displayed at the Amar’e Stoudamire Skills Academy carries over to this season, look out.

thomas-robinson-kansas-big-12-predictionsImage source: Nick Krug via iSportsWeb

With limited options up front, getting shots won’t be an issue, and after suffering through a series of personal tragedies and challenges last year, the adversity an inexperienced Kansas team is likely to face won’t phase him at all.

All-Conference Team

  • Marcus Denmon, G, Missouri
  • Perry Jones, F, Baylor
  • Khris Middleton, F, Texas A&M
  • Thomas Robinson, F,  Kansas
  • Royce White, F, Iowa State

Freshman of the Year: LeBryan Nash, F, Oklahoma State

Nash is a big-time athlete whose body already looks NBA-ready with the skills to match.  Smaller opponents can’t handle him in the post, while bigger ones can’t stay with him off the dribble.  Coach Travis Ford is on the hot seat, and his future is best served by allowing Nash to flourish during what most expect will be his only season in Stillwater.

**********

Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops, and check out the latest edition of the Bottoms Line podcast.

* – Perry Jones photo credit: AP via SI.com



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

Comments

  1. This is such a great site come check out our new free Dating web site would wide fined your true love at http://youllfindlove.com/

  2. XRumerTest says:

    Hello. And Bye.

  3. I delight in, cause I found exactly what I used to be having a look for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  4. I needed to create you one tiny observation to be able to say thanks a lot the moment again relating to the gorgeous solutions you’ve shown on this page. It’s simply particularly open-handed with you to deliver without restraint exactly what a number of us could have made available for an ebook in making some bucks for their own end, mostly now that you might well have tried it in the event you considered necessary. The secrets in addition worked to become fantastic way to realize that many people have the identical keenness much like my own to realize great deal more in respect of this issue. I think there are thousands of more enjoyable occasions ahead for many who looked at your website.

  5. Basically wanna input that you’ve got an extremely great site, I enjoy the style and style it definitely stands out.

  6. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  7. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  8. Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good effort.

  9. Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

  10. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  11. Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  12. Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  13. Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? Cheers

  14. A few players expected to play key roles for their teams won’t be suiting up this season, which should have a significant impact on the conference race
    togel sgp .

Speak Your Mind