Big 12 Basketball Season Preview

Story posted November 25, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Trevor Grady

The Big 12 Conference is getting set to play basketball for the first time since its conference tournament was cancelled back in March. Since receiving that news, the college basketball world has been vehemently awaiting the round ball’s return.

Let’s take a look at what the Big 12 has to offer this season.

The Baylor Bears are coming off an impressive season, posting a 26-4 record last year. They enter this season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll.

The Bears have arguably the best player in the conference in Jared Butler. Butler averaged 16.0 points per game last season, and is poised to be even better this year.

Baylor was set to match up with No. 18 Arizona State on Wednesday in the 2K Empire Classic, but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Both teams have now withdrawn from the event.

As of now, Baylor’s first game is scheduled to be against No. 8 Illinois on Dec. 2.

Kansas is coming off of an outstanding 28-3 season last year, but they lost their two best players to the NBA in Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. But any Kansas team led by Bill Self will always have a chance to compete for the Big 12 title.

The Jayhawks will have to rely on senior guard Marcus Garrett, who has garnered comparisons to former Kansas star Devonte’ Graham. Garrett averaged 9.2 points per game last season, but will have to carry even more of the offensive load this year with the departure of Dotson.

The Jayhawks enter the season ranked No. 6 and are set to face off with No. 1 Gonzaga on Thanksgiving Day at 1:30 p.m. in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

Texas Tech received the No. 14 ranking in this year’s preseason AP poll. The Red Raiders had a solid season last year, going 18-13 and 9-9 in conference play.

Head Coach Chris Beard has built a great program down in Lubbock, and has done an outstanding job recruiting to ensure that their Final Four run a few years ago wasn’t just a one-year wonder.

The Red Raiders open against Northwestern State on Wednesday at 7 p.m., and continue the season on Friday against Sam Houston State at 2 p.m.

One thing that is always true in Big 12 basketball is that Bob Huggins’ West Virginia teams will always have stifling defenses. Their defense was great again last season, but the offense lagged behind and they ended up losing six of their last nine conference games.

Look for the Mountaineers defense to be hard-nosed once again, led by their two forwards Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver, who stand at 6’9” and 6’10’ respectively.

West Virginia’s season won’t tip off until Dec. 2 when it clashes with Youngstown State.

Oklahoma State and Oklahoma both kick off its seasons on Wednesday. The Cowboys take on UT Arlington at 4 p.m., and the Sooners take on the Roadrunners of UTSA at 8 p.m.

Oklahoma finished 9-9 in the Big 12 last season, while Oklahoma State finished 7-11. Both teams will most likely be middle of the pack Big 12 teams again this season.

Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns have high expectations once again this season, coming off a 9-9 record in the Big 12 and a 19-12 record overall. The Longhorns return four of their five starters from last year, and will be led on offense by senior guard Matt Coleman III.

Texas will begin their season against UT Rio Grande on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

TCU, Kansas State, and Iowa State all begin their seasons this week. All three teams finished in the bottom three of the Big 12 last season, and the coaches poll predicted the same finish this year.

TCU and Kansas State both open their season on Wednesday. TCU will clash with Houston Baptist at 8 p.m., and Kansas State will play Drake at 2 p.m.

Iowa State has to wait until Sunday to kick off its season with Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 1 p.m.

Trevor Grady is a junior majoring in management information systems and minoring in journalism. To contact him, email tmg5685@psu.edu.