The 2019-2020 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball season is set to begin on November 5, 2019. While practices will begin in late September, it isn’t too early to take a peek at who are the early favorites for each conference.
Based out of Irving, Texas, the Big 12 Conference consists of ten universities. A combination of private and public institutions, the Big 12 boasts some of the largest attendances in the NCAA.
Its largest member, the University of Texas at Austin, boasts an enrolment of 50, 950. Its smallest member is Texas Christian University (TCU), with an enrolment of 10, 394.
Since its inception into major tournaments, the Big 12 have boasted regular participation but a lack of overall success in the NCAA Men’s tournament. Since 1997 the winner of the NCAA tournament has been crowned champion only once, in 2008 via the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Big 12 is an incredibly top-heavy conference. Heavyweights like Kansas and Texas always attract a number of highly ranked recruits. However, the recent success of Texas Tech and the steady Baylor always put up a fight to win the conference crown.
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) April 22, 2019
The Jayhawks hope to bounce back from the first season in which they failed to win the Big 12 since 2004. They are loaded with talent and possible one-and-dones at every position.
Kansas is no doubt one of the NCAA’s biggest winners from the 2018-2019 offseason. Not only did starters Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike spurn the NBA, but additional frontcourt option Silvio De Sousa was given clearance by the NCAA to play this coming season.
On top of their players returning, the Jayhawks were able to secure Peach Jam Champion Dajuan Harris and possibly the most sought-after grad-transfer in the nation Isaiah Moss for themselves. KU looks to be the cream of the crop in the Big 12, as well as early challengers for the 2019 NCAA Men’s Championship.
Filled our scrapbook.
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) August 24, 2019
Chris Beard may be the greatest addition to Texas Tech’s history. In consecutive years, Beard has led the Red Raiders to their best seasons of all time. Most recently, they came a single shot short of defeating Virginia and claiming the national championship.
Beard and the Red Raiders are looking to prove their last two seasons weren’t a fluke. They’ve lost key starters Jarrett Culver, Matt Mooney, and Tarik Owens, but are promising with two key pieces continuing with them next season.
Chris Clarke is returning from suspension after transferring from Virginia Tech and will be a force on the inside for the Red Raiders. On the outside, Davide Moretti set records in the Big 12 last season for his ability to shoot 50 percent from the field and three, while shooting 90% from the free-throw line. Add in top 50 recruits Jahmius Ramsey, the Red Raiders still look like a national force.
— Texas Basketball (@TexasMBB) July 2, 2019
Shaka Smart is in the hot seat for the Longhorns. Formerly the most exciting prospect in NCAA coaching, Smart has failed to lead his Texas Longhorns to national championship recognition.
The Longhorns strength lies in their backcourt. With Matt Coleman and Courtney Ramey running the show, Texas should have a competitive side when facing off against the nations top guards.
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they will need to replace the services of Jaxson Hayes, who was the eighth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. There is a lot of pressure on the returning bigs Kamaka Hepa and Royce Hamm Jr to fill his place.
“It puts us ahead at least a couple months I think, for us it’s gonna allow us to gel a little more so you know I think it’s gonna help us a lot,” said @J_Hooper11 on his team playing in a foreign tour this summer. #SicEm ?? pic.twitter.com/RWg1rKe2Eq
— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) August 24, 2019
The Baylor Bears are a side that tends to be defined by a blue-collar attitude and willingness to go toe-to-toe with any of their competition. After finishing fourth in the Big 12 last season, the Bears are certainly poised to improve on their position.
The return of a healthy Tristan Clark can only bolster the performance of the Bears in the 2019-2020 season. Jared Butler and Mario Kegler also return from last years squad, looking to improve on their season-closing loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The Bears were weakened in the backcourt this offseason until the acquisition of Davion Mitchell and Macio Teague via transfer. Their additions should help the Bears push the pace offensively, to keep up with their high-scoring counterparts.
.@TheAndyKatz‘s top 5 impact players from foreign trips:
1. Onyeka Okongwu, USC
2. DeJon Jarreau, Houston
3. Elijah Hughes, Syracuse
4. Solomon Young, Iowa State
5. Charlie Moore, DePaul
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) August 22, 2019
The Cyclones will have to depend on a number of unknown pieces going into the 2019-2020 season. Despite that, the Cyclones have one of the nations most exciting prospects going forward.
Tyrese Haliburton starred for the United States this summer in the U19 FIBA World Cup, where he led the side to gold. While the thought for him last-season was to red-shirt, Haliburton has turned himself into a real fan-favorite.
The Cyclones’ previous campaign was nothing to get excited about. With Haliburton as the center of attention going forward, there are a lot of questions about how Iowa State will fare. Transfer Prentiss Nixon is likely to help ease the load for Haliburton.
Teams in this tier may provide a great reward, but the likelihood of their success is difficult to judge.
— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) August 24, 2019
The Sooners are in a precarious position going into this years campaign. After finishing seventh in the Big 12, they will look to improve with a renewed focal point going forward.
Brady Manek and Kristian Doolittle seem to be prime candidates to step up for the Sooners. Both averaged more than ten points per game last season but were not the focal point of the offense. They will have to prove they can be more than spot-up shooters and dump-off options.
The ability of Lon Krueger’s team is up in the air. They are not a poor squad, but they currently lack a direction.
— UNISWAG (@UNISWAG) August 25, 2019
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off of an uninspired previous season. While they may still secure the services of 2020 star recruit Cade Cunningham, there is still some optimism should they fail in their recruiting efforts.
Despite only twelve wins last season, all five of the Cowboys’ starters are returning this season. Mike Boynton will have the pleasure of building upon their previous seasons’ work with attentive ears and motivated minds.
The Cowboys also added UMass grad-transfer Jonathan Laurent, a sharpshooting forward with some notable ability on the glass.
These teams don’t expect to be players in the conference this season. Either due to lack of talent or significant losses, these sides are licking their wounds and preparing for the future.
— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) August 23, 2019
The Mountaineers disappointed last season, which is an understatement. Due to a number of injuries, dismissals, and thus a last-place spot in the Big 12 last year, West Virginia is looking to build themselves back up.
West Virginia will rely on Oscar Tshiebwe to fill the role of Sagaba Donate going forward. Derek Culver also returns to the team after he averaged near a double-double in his freshman year.
Head Coach Bob Huggins hasn’t had back-to-back losing seasons in his 37 seasons as a head coach. His record speaks in his favor, but the odds are stacked against him.
— K-State Men’s Basketball (@KStateMBB) July 31, 2019
How can a team that was tied for first in the Big 12 be in the bottom of the odds barrel the following season? Look to the Kansas State Wildcats, who have an almost new squad this season.
A number four seed in the NCAA tournament last year, Kansas State lost the core of their squad in Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes, and Dean Wade. Bruce Weber will need to rely on significantly younger pieces this season.
There is a bright side though. Cartier Diarra, Mike McGuirl, and David Sloan give the Wildcats an interesting backcourt.
— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) August 8, 2019
The TCU Horned Frogs have some interesting pieces, but depth is their greatest concern going forward.
Senior Guard Desmond Bane projects to be one of the nations best while Kevin Samuel will be returning from a redshirt season. However after losing Jaylen Fisher and Kendrick Davis via transfer, and Kouat Noi overseas, the Horned Frogs are missing impact off of the bench.
Jamie Dixon will have to rely on the contributions of freshman PJ Fuller and transfer Edric Dennis to fill the remaining holes in their production.
The Big 12 is one of the most competitive conferences in the nation. Kansas seems to be the favorite going forward, but the Texas Tech Red Raiders are out to prove they are still relevant in the NCAA.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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