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Big 12 Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

College basketball is already upon us again. With that, the Big 12 is back in action, and it is time to start breaking down the conference.
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Believe it or not, college basketball is already upon us again with the season having started up on Wednesday, Nov. 25th. With that, the Big 12 is back in action, and it is time to start breaking down the conference.

The Big 12 has an impressive five teams in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll, two of which are in the top 10. Baylor comes in at #2 in the country and Kansas at #6. Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Texas all break the top 20. 

Baylor Bears

Baylor enters the 2020-21 season with ten returners from last year’s squad. That includes fifth-year senior Mark Vital, junior Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague, all of which were key figures on last year’s team who showed promise toward the end of the year. Also, Butler and Teague are both on the Naismith Player of the Year Award preseason watch list.

This Baylor Bears team looks legit going into the season. There’s talent, experience, and leadership all over the place with an incredible coach, Scott Drew, who has proven his worth year after year in the Big 12. The only question is this: will Baylor be typical Baylor and fall off come conference season when the games actually matter, or will this season finally be different for a Scott Drew-led squad? Only time will tell.

Kansas Jayhawks

Next in line are the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas is coming off a dominant 2019-2020 season where their shot at a title was cut short due to COVID. They did lose their two best players, Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson, to the NBA draft. However, senior Marcus Garett is returning along with David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji.

As usual, the Jayhawks had a pretty good recruiting class, nabbing five star Bryce Thompson and the top junior college player in the nation, Tyon Grant-Foster. Kansas is at their usual preseason spot; safely in the Top 10 and arguably national title contenders, expectations which are usually fulfilled, especially under head coach Bill Self. 2020-2021 will be no different. 

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The 14th ranked Red Raiders enter 2020 following a bit of a disappointing season. Texas Tech came oh so close to a National Championship in the 2018-2019 season, and expectations were high as ever for a program to which this kind of national success is very new.

Head coach Chris Beard continues to show his worth as one of the better coaches in the country, and key off-season pickups are what catapulted this team into the Top 25. The Texas Tech recruiting class is very impressive, ranking first in the Big 12 and tenth in the nation. This is thanks to transfers McClung, Marcus Santos-Silva, and Jamarius Burton, who are looking to make an immediate impact on the court.

Along with a handful of three and four stars came a lack of elite five-star recruits, which was disappointing for a program on the rise. Even so, the upcoming year for the Red Raiders looks promising; there are young, talented players all over the place and an elite head coach looking to bounce back after a tough go in 2019-2020. 

West Virginia Mountaineers 

West Virginia is, well, West Virginia in 2020. Bob Huggins is still the coach, so the usual, constant full-court press is on deck. The talent is good. Not great, but good, and as long as Huggy is coach, they’re going to play just as hard as anyone in the country night in and night out.

Miles McBride and Oscar Tshiebwe are returning after very impressive freshman campaigns alongside WV’s top recruit, four-star Isaiah Cottrell. This is your every year Mountaineer team; they don’t look like much on paper but will give you trouble with their defensive play and annoying full-court press. They aren’t called Press Virginia for nothing. 

Texas Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns are in an interesting spot as they enter the season. Five years into his tenure at Texas, which has been an overall disappointment, Shaka Smart may be in the hot seat early. Texas continues to fail at recruiting good, deep classes, and this year was no different. Their class ranks last in the Big 12, with just one recruit signing to the Longhorns in the offseason.

The roster doesn’t catch anyone’s eye too much, but one positive is experience. This is a very veteran team with players who have played in the system for two or more years. Also, though a disappointing one recruit signed with the Longhorns in 2020, that one recruit is a five-star, top-ranked player in Texas, Greg Jones.

The main story going into the season for the Longhorns is Shaka Smart. Smart hasn’t quite delivered results as expected since he was hired in 2014 and people are becoming impatient. If this season doesn’t start or end according to plan, look for Shaka Smart to be searching for another job.

Unranked Teams 

Yes, the five teams currently ranked are good and look ready to have a great 2020. But what may go unnoticed is the other half of the Big 12. Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and TCU are all quality college basketball teams that have a chance come March.

TCU has been on the rise for a couple of years now under Jamie Dixon. K-State is always unpredictable but seems to generally somewhat figure it out. And don’t ever count out the Sooners, who seem always to be better than expected. 

This conference will show depth throughout the rankings the entire year as it always does, and this year will be more of the same. It is almost guaranteed that at least half of the conference makes the tournament in March. At least six teams will make the big dance this year. Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State likely threatening to bring that number up to seven or eight. 

The Big 12 conference proves time after time that it is the best conference college basketball has to offer. The depth from top to bottom is unmatched, and the top teams are as good as anyone in the country. It wouldn’t be completely unrealistic to see six, seven, maybe even eight Big 12 programs dancing in March. Alas, this is yet to be seen, and we have the entire season is ahead of us.

Author

  • Evan Starr

    Passionate sports fan from the Big D. Die hard Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Kansas Jayhawk fan, almost to a fault. I think Tony Romo is a Hall of Famer, the Kansas Jayhawks would have won the 2020 National Championship, and Dez caught it.

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