Big-12 Contenders/Pretenders

  • For those that haven’t payed much attention to the rest of the Big-12 this may be for you to get up to speed as we inch closer to conference play. I will go through each team labeling them Contender or Pretender. I’ve watched 2-3 or more games on each team so far. This may not play out to be accurate at season’s end but this should give a good idea of who stands in our way to #13.

    Baylor. Ranking: #4 AP, KenPom- #11. Adj O- #15, Adj D- #14.


    Maybe the most talked about Big-12 team besides KU this non-conference is Scott Drew’s Bears. 8-0 with big wins against Oregon, Xavier, Louisville and solid wins against VCU & Michigan St. Officially it says they have won against 4 ranked teams but we all know Izzo’s squad is not a Top 25 team this year.

    Is Baylor for real? Yes they are.

    Replacing their starting PG, do it all SF/PF & C should have led to growing pains but their replacements Manu Lecomte (Miami transfer) and Jo Lual Acuil Jr (red-shirted due to heart condition) both used the red-shirt year to develop their games. Jonathan Motley entering the starting lineup has also had a big effect on this teams efficiency at both ends of the floor. Last year he was a 6th man type, this year he’s their leading scorer and no questions asked best player. So far these three players have shown to be better then the guys they replaced from last years squad. That’s tough to say especially when Prince was drafted & Rico Gathers ended his career as one of the top rebounder’s in Big-12 history.

    The win against Louisville is their biggest win so far. Winning in that weird ball-room place in the Bahamas (KU lost to Villanova a few years ago) showed a tough team. They were down 22 points and looked hopelessly beaten. They looked like a typical Scott Drew team that was folding playing top competition. But then the game changed and Baylor found a way to come back and eventually won. Louisville will be a solid top 10ish team all year, its a big win. The Oregon win looks good on paper as well as Xavier but both times Baylor got lucky playing them at home. Oregon was also short their best player and looks like a team that is still putting itself together. Xavier might not be a Top 10 team this year but it was another statement win.

    The one question every KU fan and Big-12 fan knows though is can Scott Drew coach this team up in Big-12 play. Are they peaking now? Can the zone-match-up defense that gives teams fits in non-conference play hold up when teams who play them annually scout and pick apart game film to find weaknesses. Is Baylor’s home court atmosphere good enough to win big games against KU and others? If the answer to those questions is yes, then KU has perhaps its biggest challenger in years on its hands. OU & Iowa St looked poised to take KU down last year and just couldn’t survive the gauntlet that is Big-12 play. Holding serve at home and getting 1 or 2 lucky breaks on the road is absolutely needed to win this league. You have to play perfect almost every night.

    West Virginia: Rank- #15 AP- KenPom #9- Adj O #16- Adj D # 8

    Contender: “Sigh”

    I’m not sure which team I despise more: Huggy Bear’s slap attack or ISU’s weatherwax delusional clan. I guess they both can be on equal footing.

    Huggins again has a team that can contend for the Big-12. The AP poll has them lower then KenPom which has them a solid Top 10 squad right now. They haven’t played a tough non-conference, just two games that even stick out. Temple is decent and had a huge lead over West Virginia in a neutral court game. Temple blew the lead like a lot of teams do facing non-stop pressure, WVU came back but didn’t have enough clutch shots in the end to get the comeback victory. Just this past week West Virginia went into Virginia and got a huge win on the road. It was a chippy low scoring slugfest. Pack-Line defense against nagging full court pressure. Virginia is not the Virginia of the past few years offensively- and without arguably their best player who was kicked off the team just a few games into the season for what sounds like a drug problem, UVA is 3rd or 4th best ACC team this year. Still a road win is a road win and it shows that no matter how much talent you have, a certain style of play can overcome weaknesses on a team.

    As far as West Virginia’s players go, Devin Williams is gone (thank every basketball god out there) Paige is gone- he was a nuisance and Jonathan Holton who was the lead man on their press is also gone. Esa Ahmad a former top 100 player who had a typical freshman year last season has become their leading scorer. Their 2nd leading scorer- Nathan Adrian? Who? Now sports a made for TV haircut instead of his traditional buzz cut. Seems like he’s been at West Virginia half a century. Went from 4 pts a game to over 10. Juniors Jevon Carter who looks 50 with his hair-line and new dirty player of the year nominee Daxter Miles (see my thread about his dirty hit on a Virginia player) are still kicking around fouling people and launching 3’s.

    I struggled with putting this team as a contender because I don’t think this years squad is that good. Their style of play dictates they can muddy up any game and keep them from losing games they might otherwise. Other than Virginia they haven’t played a team that wouldn’t beat a bottom dweller in the Big-12 so the jury is still out on how good they really are. Last years WVU squad would roll this years version by 20. But there is enough veterans on the squad to think they will find ways to win some games on the road and they always give KU their super bowl effort in Morgantown in which we always wonder if the ref’s drink the local water before the game, or they are secretly wearing West Virginia shirts under those zebra uniforms. Self has never figured out how to attack the press without us fans pulling our hair out. The home/away games will be tough especially with how they are scheduled.

    Iowa St: Rank- #25- KenPom #23- Adj O #31- AdjD #19


    In what should be Iowa St.'s last year as a Big-12 contender for a while, Prohm has 6 seniors in his rotation. Gone is George slow-mo Niang and Predator clone McKay from last years squad. Niang was not replaceable and Prohm went the transfer route to try and replace some of the production lost.

    Monte Morris has taken over this team and is the leading scorer. Deonte Burton has really come on in recent games and is a match-up nightmare for most squads who don’t have an undersized athletic forward roaming around on their team that weighs 240. Naz Long comes back for his 17th season after medically red-shirting with a hip injury. He’s been terribly inefficient so far shooting the 3 ball. Matt Thomas is one of those 4 year players that you love to have on your team and hate to play against. Iowa St literally has no one on the team over 6’8. Josh Jackson is as tall as their tallest guy. That in a nutshell has exposed their biggest problem this year- post size and depth. They have neither and Prohm is forced to play mid-major small in a power 5 conference.

    Schedule wise Iowa St has played 3 teams with a pulse and lost 2 of them. Miami is rebuilding, Iowa St beat them on a neutral court then lost to still Undefeated Gonzaga 2 days later in a hard fought 2 point game. Monte Morris blew a chance for a game winning shot by not even getting one off in time, which for a Senior leader is inexcusable. Gonzaga is a top team again this year so the loss isn’t the end of the world. Last week Iowa St dropped an OT game against Cincinnati in which both teams were allergic from putting the ball into the basket. A 55-54 OT game. Cincinnati usually makes every game they play a fall asleep type affair but this game was filled with lots of missed shots.

    The #'s so far say Iowa St is a better defensive team then offensive team. That is usually the opposite as Iowa St spreads the floor and takes jumpers whenever they feel like it. I feel a lot of it is due to Niang being gone. He was such an offensive juggernaut from all over the court and his point forward ability allowed ISU to have 2 PG’s on the floor at all times. Without that guy on the floor who could get a basket anytime he wanted ISU has had to rely on other individual talents. Because of the Seniors on this team I still have them as a contender and with the 2nd best home-court advantage in the league they always have the ability to hold serve for 9 games in-conference. This isn’t ISU’s best squad and it will show in road games where they struggle to get timely buckets and lack size to protect the rim and rebound.

    Oklahoma- Rank- None- KenPom #42 Adj O #59 Adj D # 35


    No team lost more from last year then this squad. 3 starters, Buddy Hield, Cousins, Spangler. They had a banner year making the Final 4 and playing one of the best games in Allen Fieldhouse history. Left is PG Jordan Woodard-their leading scorer and C Kadeem Lattin a defensive player with an emerging offensive game as he’s averaging double figures now. Christian James has emerged as their 2nd leading scorer and is trying to follow in the footsteps of Hield, similar game and player. 3 Freshman are contributing and 2 other Sophomores who played sparingly last year. Young squad, definite rebuilding year.

    So far they have dropped an OT game against Northern Iowa, beaten an okay Clemson squad and got blown out by Wisconsin on the road. OU looked promising early against Wisconsin but then the Badgers took over the game after halftime and made the final margin of victory look like a blowout. That game to me signaled that they are going to struggle at times in Big-12 play. They have talent, more so then 80% of the league but its going to take Kruger time to get them to play together. I think they could upset a few teams and make the NCAA’s because we all know the coach is good and has a proven track record for developing his team. They are still shooting the 3 ball well as a team and they are lucky that 4 year starter Woodard is still around to take pressure off the rest of the squad. They look like a 11-7 to 9-9 Big-12 squad this year.

    Texas Tech: Rank- None- KenPom #31 Adj O- #33- AdjD #38.


    This might be the toughest team to get an early season prediction on because they have played literally nobody so far. Auburn is a young squad with some talent but probably an SEC afterthought again so the 2 point loss to them doesn’t bode well for them making the NCAA’s without some marquee Big-12 wins. The #'s so far say they are better then average but seriously who wouldn’t look good beating Houston Baptist, North Texas, Eastern Kentucky, Utah St, Incarnate Word, Rice, UT San Antonio. So far its the 11th worst out of conference schedule of 351 teams. They play nobody until traveling to Iowa St to start conference play.

    New head coach replacing Tubby Smith is Chris Beard who got Arkansas Little Rock into the NCAA’s and knocked off Purdue in one of those epic first round games. Beard inherited a good team that made the NCAA’s themselves but stood no match for Butler. Starting Center Odiase has not even played this season but Texas Tech is 8-1 anyway. A key graduate transfer in Anthony Livingston is providing solid scoring so far and overall they have 7 guys averaging 8 points or more a game.

    They certainly have the experience back and players to finish in the upper half of the league but its hard to predict that with them playing such a soft schedule so far. When they played a Power 5 school they lost and they had a chance to tie the game with 4 seconds left but Aaron Ross- their leading scorer’s shot was blocked. Until this team proves itself in conference they could be a team that finishes 11-7 to 7-11. The ceiling is there for them to continue off last years success with a 1st year coach.

    TCU: Rank- None- KenPom- #51 Adj O- #67- Adj D- #54


    First year coach Jamie Dixon comes back to his Alma-Mater after a successful stint at Pittsburgh where he routinely made the NCAA tourney. TCU was undefeated until last night when SMU blew them out at home. SMU is a tough place to travel and win but the margin of victory says that TCU still has a long ways to go. There was some chatter they would be ranked but good thing this game gave everyone thinking that a wake up call. The two wins against Washington- a perennial underachieving team with NBA talent are probably not going to be substantial resume wins by end of season.

    Dixon has some talent leftover from the previous regime and he did land a Top 40 PG in Jaylen Fisher who has been solid so far 11ppg, 4 assists. Alex Robinson a transfer from Texas A&M has been their leading scorer. Perennial disappointment Karvier Shephard is still around, Kenrich Williams is back from a knee injury and is averaging a double/double so far. Brodziansky- a twig post has also become one of their leading scorers in his 2nd year with the team. TCU plays 10 guys on the regular and has depth to stay in games. Can a good coach make that much of a difference in 1 year to change the winning culture around the program. Will fans show up and support the new coach and updated facilities? They should do better than 2-16 but its more likely 7-11 would be a big turnaround for this squad. KU does travel down to TCU for the Big-12 opener so we’ll get to see soon if TCU is improved…

    Oklahoma St: Rank- None- KenPom- #47 Adj O #27 Adj D #81


    First year coach Brad Underwood brings an exciting style of play to OSU that Travis Ford never did. I think this was the best hire in the Big-12 in the off-season that has 3 new coaches. So far OSU is top 10 in tempo- they play fast and take lots of shots. Offensive numbers have been staggering so far but when they have played better competition they have come back down to earth. UNC absolutely destroyed them when some people were starting to take notice of this team.

    Future NBA Sophomore Juwan Evans leads the Big-12 in scoring at 23 ppg. His shooting #'s so far are impressive and some TV guys have compared his game to Chris Paul. I think his usage % is near 34% so he’s getting big numbers while also getting a lot of opportunities. Phil Forte is back for his senior year after having his year cut short last season with injury. Just another guy your like “he’s still around”. Never been a fan of this guy and every-time he plays KU its his Super Bowl. Jeffrey Carroll might be the guy who’s benefited the most from the switch in style and coaches as he’s doubled his scoring average from 8 to 16 this year. Oklahoma St has 3 guys averaging 14 pts or more a game so they definitely want to score the basket. OSU plays 11 guys in its regular rotation and has 7 guys who have attempted 15 or more 3’s on the season.

    Schedule wise they have dropped games to UNC as mentioned before in Maui & a 1 point loss to Maryland who’s in a down year from past squads. Otherwise their best win is against a struggling Georgetown team and a injury stricken Uconn squad down to 6 or 7 healthy bodies. OSU has 1 more chance before conference play to get a big win traveling to Wichita St next weekend. Style wise this team might surprise in Big-12 play by scoring but the biggest issue is this is a team that doesn’t defend anything. When Central Arkansas & Rogers St (must be a Div-2 squad) can score over 85 points against them imagine what KU and others will put up. Of course the last game of the regular season- traveling to Stillwater is the annual Bill Self can’t win in Gallagher Iba reunion. This year we don’t travel in February, its the 18th game of the schedule so maybe this will break the curse that has followed this team in that gym.

    Kansas St: Rank Never, KenPom- Overrated Adj O # false Adj D # biased


    Did I mention yet that K-St sucks? If not then I am saying it now. Just how delusional are K-St fans. They have actually had a discussion I’ve seen that says their talent is a wash at most positions this year with KU. The water in Manhattan must have a nice spike to it. I don’t expect anything less from them because its typical, so typical that all you can do is laugh. Hey some K-St fans still think Dean Wade is the next Larry Bird. It would be like them to have the worst coach in the Big-12 with that pip-squeak voice that follows when he opens his mouth. How many more years does Bruce Weber get. They could have had Underwood- instead they get mediocrity- at best.

    What else is there to say about this team. They have played a bunch of YMCA squads at home, lost a 1 point game to Maryland- not the only Big-12 school to do that so far. Cream puff central so far in out of conference play. Not wasting anymore time discussing them. They will finish last in the league in my opinion and I’ll be so happy if that does happen

    I forgot Texas.

    At this point Texas is a pretender. Shaka has a lot of work to do with this squad and at 4-4 they are struggling mightily to win games. I think we’ve talked up Texas enough over the weeks. I see them as a bottom level Big-12 team unless they figure out chemistry and the PG mess they got going on.

    Thoughts everyone?

  • Good stuff.

    With ISU I will believe their defense is good when the numbers bear it out for an entire season.

    Edit: Oh and we can’t forget that the front court is a massive advantage for KSU. Disregard the fact that Wade has similar numbers to Bragg against complete pastry competition.

  • @BeddieKU23 nice job

  • @BeddieKU23

    Agreed with most everything you have said here. I haven’t seen Texas Tech or TCU play yet, so I am trusting your stuff there.

    WVU is going to be tough because of defense. Baylor is as complete as they have ever been. Iowa State can put points on the board. That’s three solid challengers to KU.

    OSU probably will be tough at home. The conference title may get determined by which contender can go to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and win. Those could definitely be separation games because I figure some of the contenders will slip up in one or both of those games.

    KSU is better than I anticipated, but they probably finish 7th or lower in the conference (had them pegged for dead last before). They have a lot of almost good enough players that will start getting exposed in conference season.

  • @BeddieKU23 I don’t think Baylor is as good as they appear. Oregon didn’t have their best player, and Xavier isn’t as good as advertised. Louisville simply can’t beat zone defenses…they always seem to struggle against Boeheim. Louie also has lots of difficulties shooting the ball from the perimeter. Sooo, Baylor is the college bb flavor of the week, imo. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  • @BeddieKU23 If Underwood is the real deal, he will have OSU rolling a little in conference play. If they can hold serve at home they are definitely a contender.

    KState is going to be a tough game in Manhattan this year. For all Big XII teams. But I don’t expect much from them anywhere else. I feel like they finish 6th or 7th.

    Texas could literally finish last the way they are playing right now.

    TCU and Tech both had solid hires by guys that WANT to be there. It isn’t a stepping stone for either coach. So both of those teams are playing some passionate basketball right now.

    If I were to make a prediction on where each team finished right now, this is where mine would be:

    1. Kansas (15-3)
    2. Baylor (13-5)
    3. WVU (12-6)
    4. OSU (11-7)
    5. ISU (11-7)
    6. TCU (8-10)
    7. KSU (6-12)
    8. TTU (6-12)
    9. OU (5-13)
    10. UT (3-15)

    But it is also so hard to tell who has actually played anyone worth a damn and who hasn’t at this point in the season. Either wya, 3-10 is going to be pretty messy this year. I hope we can find a way to squeeze 6 teams into the tourney.

  • @justanotherfan

    Tech is a decent team so far and Odiase if he comes back would help them in the post and give them some more versatility with the lineup. They just haven’t played anyone to get a full read on them. They look like they will score more then in years past where Tubby tended to slow the game down, Beard seems like a guy that lets them play more freely.

    Agree about the Oklahoma schools, good offense at home can lead to upsets. OSU is just a very bad defensive team right now and they will have to shoot lights out most nights to have a chance against the better teams. OU is the one team I think where their ceiling could be higher then it is right now. Mostly because of coaching and having the talent that could develop.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Yeah it’s tricky when teams hide behind a complete garbage schedule. Kenpom and such can give a good feel, but it’s still impossible to truly know.

    Texas finishing last would be amazing considering their talent. A good PG or lack thereof changes everything though.

  • @Kcmatt7

    I’m glad the Big-12 has looked better so far then what we might have thought in the pre-season. Baylor has really stepped up and everyone outside of Texas is sporting a good record right now.

    I think right now 4 teams are locks for the NCAA’s - KU, Baylor, ISU, West Virginia.

    OU, Oklahoma St & Texas Tech could play themselves into a bid if things went their way. I think all 3 will have to rely on upsets though to make it happen.

    KSU, TCU & Texas have not shown that they are tournament consideration.

    The game in Manhattan is always tough but K-St has little depth and our perimeter attack will really hurt them. I’m not sold on OSU defending well enough but Underwood is definitely a step in the right direction for their program after having to deal with Travis Ford’s antics.

  • @BeddieKU23

    I think it’s a byproduct of the good coaching in this league. Self, Kruger and tHuggy in particular all have a pretty good baseline even just rolling 5 ham sandwiches out there. And Drew is actually working his way up the list but I feel he also has a ceiling (and that it is EE and not winning the conference).

  • @BShark

    KenPom is good at weeding out most stuff even with just 8-9 out of the way. I do not understand K-St being #34 per KenPom though with the 339th ranked schedule. If K-St is the 34th best team in all of College Basketball- then College Basketball is significantly down from past years.

    Texas Tech has the 340th ranked schedule, West Virginia 300th, Oklahoma 281, Iowa St 217, TCU 198.

    Baylor and KU are the only teams in top 100 so far.

  • @BeddieKU23

    FWIW, Jeff Sagarin has WVU as the #1. Huggy is a very good coach and he knows how to use the talent at hand. After Self, I would put Huggins second and Kruger third as the best conference coaches.

    ISU has 3 or 4 quality players and a bunch of role payers; one injury to a key player and the team production goes down quite a bit. running on gas fumes left from previous teams; without the Mayor, their perfect storm is over

    TCU and Texas Tech have played very soft schedules and their records are inflated accordingly. Once conference play starts they will go back to their usual place in the bottom half of the conference.

    KSU is much better than anticipated and playing rather well as a team. Remember when everybody said they would blown out by Maryland and the real test would be how they do against St Louis. Well, it took a last minute shot by Maryland’s Trimble to beat KSU and they easily beat STL by 31. Liberace is not a good recruiter or good at keeping players but he is a pretty good X and Os coach.

    Baylor has been the big surprise with big wins early in the season…I wonder if Scott Drew is suspended and the assistants are coaching like they did a few years ago. Some of the wins are against teams that now appear to have been over ranked but still pretty good wins. The first game against Baylor at AFH might decide the conference Championship.

    OSU is probably the most improved team and might give other teams a run for their money.

    OU is down quite a bit and they are at best a middle of the pack team.

    Texas has a lot of talent and highly ranked new players but it also has Shaka “legend in his own mind” not so Smart, enough said. They will probably get better just by virtue of the raw talent they have but they will finish in the bottom half.

    This is how I see it…











  • @JayHawkFanToo

    West Virginia has played a very soft schedule as well as some others in the league that have been mentioned. The Virginia game was a marquee victory for them but otherwise they have feasted on weak opposition. Without Devin Williams & Paige they have struggled offensively to find an identity but as you said defensively they keep themselves in games with how much trouble they give teams pressing. We’ve also seen where Big-12 teams figure out the press especially in the 2nd game of the round robin. If West Virginia is going to be the toughest competitor for KU, offensively they are going to have to find a guy that can consistently score. Right now its more of a collective effort which works in the non-conference part but doesn’t really work when facing KU.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Yes, but they have Huggy, a superior coach, and that fat check he gets every time he beats KU as an incentive…

  • @Kcmatt7 Was that record prediction just a stab or did you actually look at all 18 games and say ok, we win this one, lose that one? If you looked at it a little more analytically, who are our losses against? I can’t ever see us losing at home, although Bill has found out 9 times it does happen. But this team has what it takes to keep the home streak going.

    So three road losses. Our three usual suspects ISU, WVU and OSU leaves out Manhattan where we’re 3-3 in the last 6 years I think. And then of course Baylor. So there’s 5 places where we’ve lost more than once in the last half decade. WVU will be the most sure loss in that group in my mind. Not sure who else we lose to, but we’ll probably come out flat against one of the others, watch the fools storm the court, and come back to AFH for the revenge game and beat them by 25.

    Excellent post @BeddieKU23 by the way.

  • @wissox

    The schedule is friendly enough early where KU could be 5-0 entering the Big Monday game in Ames.

    If KU beats ISU in Ames then West Virginia becomes the most likely 1st loss in Conference play. After that only @ Baylor seems likely at this point. I think we hold serve at home again throughout conference play. No Niang’s, Hield’s too worry about coming to Allen and winning

  • @wissox

    I think you have identified the most likely pitfalls, although if I had to predict losses, I would say at West Virginia, at Oklahoma State and at Texas Tech. Tech gives us problems down there, although we usually survive the scare. One of these years, we won’t survive that scare. I suspect it may be this season simply because Tech is a little bit better than they have been in the past.

    West Virginia is just a nightmare trip for us every year. Oklahoma State is a tough one for Self to prepare for, and I think there are some distractions down there for him.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    No one smart thought SLU was a test for KSU (they are kenpom #287) and MD is a one man team that also barely beat Okie Lite and is in the same range as UGA and Stanford. Not convinced of KSU at all. I think best case they are a fringe tournament team, not soundly in. Let’s see how they do in Allen. Imo TTU, TCU and KSU are all fairly comparable.

  • @justanotherfan

    Do you think it will make a difference with the Oklahoma St being the last conference game? Possibly a situation where KU is playing for the conference which would give the game some importance for KU… If the league is won before game 18 then certainly I could see them dropping the game if the perfect storm happens again.

    OSU doesn’t defend anything well so far and that was the one thing Ford’s squads did in beating KU was defend… OSU is playing at a completely different tempo/pace then before

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Are you also a KSU fan? Asking because of your name. 😜

  • @BShark ha ha

  • @BeddieKU23 so finish this up by telling us how we match up w/each team. Who would you start? Would you start 5 guards against ISU? Maybe Bragg? Can ll or doke play that game? Would that be our advantage? Can’t wait

  • @BShark

    No. I explained before that once upon the time at the KC Star basketball forum that used to be very popular, my handle was JayHawkFan. Threads got at times heated and the administrator would ban every poster in the thread only to have everybody return with a slightly different handle; it really got to be an ongoing joke. My original handle became JayHawkFan1, JayHawkFanOne, JayHawkFan2, JayHawkFanTwo and finally JayHawkFanToo. When that forum shut down many of us moved to the LJW forum and kept our handles and then it moved with me once more to this forum…and that is all there is to it.

    Having said that, I also tend to root for all other Kansas teams next and then conference teams, unless they are playing KU…and yes, I hate MU, UK and Duke. I am indeed a diehard KU fan.

  • Ah I see.

    I didn’t mind KSU when Martin was there, Those KSU teams had an identity. They were tough and were gonna rebound. Bruce is just really unlikeable to me. Same problem with GREGGGGGG at WSU.

  • @BShark

    That is true; however, as unlikable as they are, particularly Marshall, they are still pretty good coaches.

  • Gregggggg is a good coach, albeit a dick. I struggle to grant that to Bruce when his teams lose some of the close games in the fashion that they do.

  • @wissox I did that because that was how many we lost last year. And I don’t see us losing anymore than 3 this year.

    I definitely don’t think that we lose more than 3 games in the conference this season. In fact, I’m not sure we lose 3, because I have to think Bill knows how important that 1 seed and landing in KC is. If we are going to win it all, we need to land that region. So it will be ballz to the wallz during conference season so that way we can have an elite 8 game in East Allen. I mean this is it. The difference between 3 losses and 4 during conference play could literally be us in California instead of Kansas City. We don’t want that to happen and need to make sure it doesn’t.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    Gladly will share my thoughts about how we match-up against each team. I’ll start at the top.


    Probably the only team in the Big-12 with an advantage over KU in any area of the game. They have excellent size 1-5. Acuil Jr roaming the middle with his shot-blocking ability has really changed things for Baylor inside. Motley is also huge and can block shots. The zone looks big and with rim protection it makes it formidable.

    How KU will beat Baylor- Josh Jackson will be a huge reason why. Putting him in the middle of the zone or finding the soft spot and using his play-making ability is a game-changer for KU. Previously we used Jamari or Ellis and Jackson is worlds better at passing out of that spot on the floor. Our passing ability is also better as a team overall. We can change directions better and find open shooters which if our guys are hitting will force Baylor to adjust. Then its about forcing Baylor on offense into jump-shots. Lecomte is a dangerous shooter but everyone else is streaky at best. If KU was to attack one player on Baylor that would change the complexion of the game it would be Motley. Often Foul prone, you take away Baylor’s biggest offensive advantage if he’s sitting.

    West Virginia

    Beating Huggins is easier this year then in years past. Defend West Virginia with aggressiveness and take care of the basketball. If they can’t force turnovers at a high rate and they can’t make easy shots inside they struggle to produce offense and keep teams off the scoreboard. They don’t have 1 player that KU should be scared of, or a guy that will individually change the game like they had last year with Williams/Paige combo.

    Iowa St

    ISU has no choice but to play small-ball because nobody on their team is a true post other than Merrill Holden. Bowie is undersized, Burton is undersized but makes up for it with sure girth and athleticism. Perfect game for KU’s 5 guards rotating in and out. Doke/Bragg and Lucas holding down the 5 for rebounding/rim protection. KU’s guards are better than ISU’s although ISU’s guys are veterans and can have big games. If KU plays up to its potential I see no reason why we can’t win in Ames this year. Niang was a match-up nightmare and is no longer. Burton has been trying to fill a similar role but doesn’t have the Basketball IQ that Niang had.


    OU is easier to defend this year without its fearsome 3 guys. Woodard has always been solid and has taken on more of a scoring role but either Mason/Graham can slow him down. James is an improving talent that could be headed on a similar path as Buddy Hield was. Similar games/ similar build. Their defense so far outside of the Wisconsin 2nd half has been pretty good considering all the new guys in the rotation. Lattin is still a defensive force who’s producing on offense now. I’m not sure how they will handle our guard heavy attack.

    Texas Tech

    Tech is playing faster then years past where Tubby “settle for one shot” mentality seemed to be his plan to try and beat KU every year. This tech team is experienced and has depth to play. Their best 3 point shooters so far are Aaron Ross & Anthony Livingston which are 6’8 guys (often a position that troubles KU). Livingston has big game ability with a 30 pt game already. The transfer from Arkansas St was a big pickup for Tech- he averaged 15 a game the last 2 seasons. We should be able to play our 4 guard lineup against them without any troubles.


    Dixon has some size and they rebound pretty well as a group this year. Might be a game where KU has to play more traditional if there is any improvement from now until the opener in 21 days. We can play the 4 guard lineup and make them adjust especially if our guards can rebound.

    Oklahoma St

    As mentioned before OSU is playing at a breakneck style this year. Top 10 in tempo in the NCAA’s. Taking lots of quick shots. This is a team we can play the 4 guard lineup- another match-up where we probably need to play it in order to win both games because OSU isn’t very big. They have a lot of 6’6. types. Juwan Evans is a potential nightmare for Graham or Mason to guard. He was in Stillwater last year and he’s only gotten better. Shooting the heck out of the ball right now. These games figure to be high scoring/ high pace which benefit KU because at least KU can defend and force misses.


    Basically the same team as last year. Stokes- their PG is healthy so that helps them. DJ Johnson has stepped up as a senior big. Having the typical senior year that KSU gets from its bigs. Barry Brown is a good player- their best player when he’s shooting well. Iwundu has been around forever it seems and he’s been solid for them. One player exceeding expectations at least to me is Xavier Sneed. He’s been shooting the ball well but the one game K-St played with a pulse Maryland he was scoreless. To be honest K-St only has 6 players that can compete on a nightly basis. They have little depth and they are stealing minutes during games from guys that would be walk-ons at KU. We shouldn’t be worried about them challenging us.


    A mess at the PG position right now. Just imagine what Mason will do to them. Lots of talent and Shaka hasn’t figured out how to use it. They don’t really match-up with KU and I don’t expect much will change that would change that opinion.

  • @BeddieKU23 did u see Baylor play any man? Can they keep up w/us in transition? Depth? ISU, who guards burton? Who scores more, Frank or morris😉?

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    I have not seen Baylor play man but their zone is more of a match-up based zone now so it has man principles as well. Lately KU hasn’t had much success with transition in Waco. We seem to jump out on them in Allen or in the Big-12 tourney which opens up the court more. We’ll see Baylor has legit rim protection this year and a PG I believe is their best in years.

    Burton- I don’t know best guess is Jackson and hope he stays out of foul trouble. Burton can shoot the 3 so putting Bragg on him is not smart. Vick might get beaten because Burton has a good 50 pounds on him. Svi could be an option because he’s good at initial disruption on defense and Burton likes to get the ball at the top of the key.

    Frank is the better offensive player and right now I would say him. Morris is really good, if we didn’t have Frank I’d wish we had him. Will be an excellent battle of senior guards. I’m sure each will be trying to 1-up each other

  • @BeddieKU23 Frank’s a better shooter. Should be a great matchup.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Sneed and Brown are definitely players. Brown was more ditr like Foster but when you looked at his film from HS the thought was there is no way there are 250+ better players in this class. Sneed was legit top 150 with offers from Cincy, Creighton, Illinois etc…

    Agree about the 6 player thing. It’s Brown, Stokes, Wade, Sneed, DJ, Iwundu. After that…yikes and it will hurt them against good teams.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    As I mentioned before, the Baylor at KU game will probably be the key. a comfortable win places KU in the driver seat with less pressure for the return game at Baylor. A close win by KU or a win by Baylor places them in control with a lot less pressure for the return game in Waco.

    On the other hand, KU and OU played a game for the ages at AFH last season that KU finally won in 3 OTs and then won the return game at OU in less dramatic fashion. I believe the first game took a lot out of both teams with KU losing 3 of the next 6 at WVU, OSU and ISU. OU beat KSU at home and then had two close calls at OSU and against WVU winning both games by 2 points before losing at ISU.

  • @BShark

    I knew Sneed was a top 150 player I just didn’t think he’d be averaging double figures as a freshman. But it makes sense given the competition and the complete lack of anyone else on the team that can produce that he’s got solid early season numbers.

    Yeah teams are going to expose K-St when substitution rotations happens or foul trouble occurs.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Yeah the double digit part may not hold up in league play. It is definitely a bit of a thing where someone on the team has to take shots and when you only have 6 good players then those guys are going to get most of the shots.

  • @BShark

    Good point about conference play. Regardless I think we will see most of K-St’s numbers regress in conference play and true colors will show

  • @BeddieKU23

    It’s so hard with 6 guys and their 6 guys aren’t exactly on the KU 2012 level.

  • My uneducated opinion is that KU will win the league pretty easily, even with C5 playing less good than last season. lol, less good.

    Baylor has a chance to make things interesting but Shorty Drew seems to choke late in season and KU will absolutely eat up Baylors zone.

    WVU’s press? No different. All 5 of our guards are probly salivating right now at the thought of that match up too.

    The Big12 is down from last year. We wont get 7 teams in the dance. 4, maybe 5, maybe.

  • @Lulufulu

    I don’t believe the Big 12 is as down as you think. Bracketology currently has the Big 12 with 6 teams with Oklahoma on the First 4 out and Texas Tech in the Next 4 out that is 6 in and 2 almost in. If I were a betting man, I would bet the Conference gets at least 6, probably 7 and maybe even 8. The Big 12 is currently 69-15 (.821) in non conference games; the previous high was 2015-16 at 114-30 (.792); the Big 12 is still the top ranked conference.

    I do think KU will win the Conference but it will not do it “pretty easily.” it will be a fight with Baylor and WVU and winning road games will be critical.

  • FINAL: Iowa State falls to Iowa, 78-64.

  • I have to admit I’ve only seen a few minutes of Baylor so far. I knew Motley would be back and would become a huge threat.

    From what I am imagining, Baylor does have the guns this year to challenge anyone. That doesn’t mean they will be at the top of the Big 12 by year end. There is so many “intangibles” involved around putting together a big conference season. Sometimes teams catch a few breaks to help them out. But to systematically pick apart the rest of the conference to end up on top… guess I have the same doubts many have… I’m not sure Drew is prepared to have that kind of performance.

    I don’t think most people realize just how valuable the head coach is in winning conference play, especially a conference like the Big 12. Don’t devalue Bill’s personal history in this league going back to his playing days in Stillwater (Big 8 back then). Don’t devalue his days at Kansas helping Larry Brown.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 said:

    FINAL: Iowa State falls to Iowa, 78-64.

    Yeaaaaah that’s a really bad loss.

    Also I have a working theory: what if UT-Arlington is extremely badass?

  • @BeddieKU23

    First, great job!! That was a lot of work and very readable.

    Baylor should be good for two reasons. First, Drew does better with guys that don’t know him well than with those that do; i.e., with teams with newcomers. Once his players find him out, then his teams tend to fall apart. Second, Drew has some good new faces.

    WVU will be in the race, because Huggie will win a number of games with intimidation alone. The refs softening everyone up with the tight calling early will favor Huggins’ team late, because when the refs start swallowing their whistles down the stretch, the Mountaineers will already be practiced at unloading. The mayhem allowed down the stretch always favors WVU.

    ISU’s Prohm proved he could coach a little last season, but he didn’t really get the best out of what The Mayor left him… Six seniors will get him enough consistency to mask his shortcomings. His real exposure comes next season.

    Oklahoma surprises me in that I expected Kruger to be able to fill some of the spaces.

    Texas Tech with a new coach in Beard will do better, but not great. Most every new coach does decent in the B12 it seems. They are a new mouse trap.

    TCU is my pick for a surprise. Jaimie Dixon can coach. He’ll find one or two hoopahs to go with last season’s low ceiling prison bodies and upset some teams.

    Texas is obstructed by Shaka.

  • CyFan is fantastic right now.

    “Greg McDermott 2.0”

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Thank you!

  • Summary of ideas on Texas: why would anyone in the BigXII fear Shaka’s “havoc-D” when future hall of famer Huggins does it far better at WVU?

  • @ralster

    The havoc is a junk system that allows less talented teams to keep up with more talented teams by virtue of superior hustle. It works when the more talented team does not prepare for it and gets caught by surprise.

    At the 2004 NCAA, #9 UAB with Mike Anderson as coach used the so called “40 minutes of hell” that he learned from Nolan Richardson while at Arkansas to beat #1 Kentucky who was not prepared. The next game UAB played KU, who was prepared, and with Aaron Miles at the PG was able to easily beat the press and feed to an open Simien who had a banner day and scored 30 points, including going 18-20 from the line. KU won going away 100-74.

    A team with a capable PG that can break the press will end up getting open easy and shots under the basket. KU has now capable guards to do just this and dominate the game.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Yep, the way Aaron Miles handled UAB was perfect. I thought 2 yrs ago at WVU, KU’s guards were not as well prepped. But my comment about Shaka was only a slam on him & his choice of style, nothing more.

    Self whipping Shaka last yr in Austin by 30pts was in my top 3 for last yr. (KY & OU were other 2). Shaka is awful, got nothing for me.

  • @JayHawkFanToo agreed, when I played we practiced getting the ball in against 10 players and that was tough. With the likes of Mason, DG, Vick, Svi and JJ there is no reason whatsoever that we don’t embarrass teams that pressure us.

  • @ralster @kjayhawks

    The havoc allows teams with limited talent to compensate with top physical conditioning. At Texas, Shaka has top shelf talent and he still uses a system that depend on physical preparation rather than the natural skill of his players. Brute force over finesse, quantity over quality…whatever you call it, it wastes the talent available to him. This is not to say that top conditioning is not good, it is, but well prepared natural talent trumps that any day.

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