As December comes upon us and the football regular season concludes, we are greeted with many wonderful things. Christmas season has officially begun, snow starts to fall in west Texas, but most importantly it rings in college basketball season.
Unlike football, the Big 12 is the supreme conference when it comes to basketball. The Big 12 and ACC replace the SEC and Big Ten when it comes to conference superiority in college basketball and this year is no different.
The Big 12 will be looking to get as many as eight teams into the NCAA tournament this year for the first time since they’ve trimmed down to ten teams and have the conference talent to do so.
Big 12 teams have already been put to the test with some early season tournaments and big time matchups, but with no team in the conference losing more than two games, they’re showing their conference dominance.
To be the best, you have to beat the best and KU has been the best for a long time coming. 13 straight conference titles for the Jayhawks is an incredible feat and with Kansas already starting the season 7-0, they seemed poised to continue.
2. West Virginia
Since losing the season opener to Texas A&M, the Mountaineers have been on a rampage, eight straight wins and counting is no small feat. Jevon Carter’s decision to come back for his senior season is huge and puts the Mountaineers in the best position to knock off Kansas. WVU’s defense is a force to be reckoned with and their veteran leadership will make it tough for any opponent.
TCU is one of only 10 remaining undefeated teams in division 1, what’s the catch? They haven’t really played anyone. The Horned Frogs have done a nice job of beating up on the opponents they have played and beating a decent SMU team helped solidify this spot for them. Led by the senior trio of Brodziansky, Williams, and Robinson, head coach Jamie Dixon finally has a team he can lead to the tournament.
Now that Baylor is back to being a basketball school, expect the Ferrell Center to be rocking every night. Losing Motley to the NBA is huge however, this Bears squad has veterans throughout the roster. The back court of Lecomte and McClure will make this team a fun one to watch.
5. Texas Tech
This Texas Tech team has proven that they’re more than a NIT destined squad. In this very premature season they have already accomplished what hasn’t been done in over a decade. Winning an early season tournament and doing so by defeating a ranked opponent by 36 points. This victory was the largest margin of victory over a ranked opponent in program history, showing that this is a different Red Raider team. With a difficult schedule this year, Tech has already played four possible tournament teams and only have one blemish to show for it. A good mix of veterans and newcomers has this TTU team poised to have a special season this year and in the future.
An extremely dissapointing season last year had Texas missing the tournament for just the fourth time since 1989. The Shaka Smart honeymoon abruptly ended with people wondering if he’s cut out for the job. This is a big year for this program, but with the incoming talent, is one that hopes to be bright. Mohamed Bamba is the real deal and a force to be reckoned with. It will be tough for any team to go inside the paint while he’s on the court. Both of the Longhorns defeats this season has come at the hands of ranked opponents, and they’ve had a very difficult schedule to start the year. No doubt they will be prepared for conference season.
7. Kansas State
K-State employs a unit that shares the ball well and plays tough defense. This team won’t have many names that stick out but will always be a difficult opponent. Vanderbilt had to find out the hard way how well this team plays together. The Wildcats have played well in this early season, but have only played two power conference teams so far. WIll they be ready for conference season?
Bamba isn’t the only impressive freshman this year as highly sought after guard Trae Young has been lighting the college basketball scene on fire. Reminiscient of Buddy Hield, Young’s three pointers have been reigning in and helping the Sooners avoid some possible early season losses. Like the OU teams of the past that relied on one or two players, this one seems to live and die by Young’s performance so far. Young is currently averaging almost 29 points while the next closest Sooner is only putting up 11, this seems to be a recipe for losses in this conference but one that could land Young the Naismith.
9. Iowa State
This is usually the Cyclones favorite time of the year, however every program suffers a down year from time to time and this is ISU’s down year. ISU will have to hope that the incoming transfers are better than advertised to make the tournament, but for right now it seems like the NIT is a more realistic goal.
10. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys will now be playing for their third head coach in three years. Couple that with the new associate head coach getting fired for allegedly accepting bribes, this season is going to be an uphill climb for OSU. At least fans will get to watch Jeffrey Carroll try to go for 30 every night.