Friday, November 14, 2008

Big 12 2008-09 College Basketball Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

While the Big 12 boasts the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks, the Jayhawks don’t have a lot of players remaining who were around for that run, leaving a wide open race at the top of the conference. While Kansas may be down a bit, the conference itself is still very strong, featuring at least a couple of teams who will figure strongly in the national championship race, a couple or three more who could potentially last until the second weekend of the tournament, and a few teams in the middle of the pack fighting for a tournament berth.

1. Oklahoma – When forward Blake Griffin announced his intention to return for his sophomore season in Norman, Jeff Capel knew he was going to have an exciting season. Add spectacular freshman guard Willie Warren and this is the best Sooner basketball team in quite a while.

2. Texas – After losing Kevin Durant to the NBA draft two seasons ago, the Longhorns didn’t miss a beat. Now, point guard D.J. Augustin has joined Durant at the next level, but the Longhorns are still loaded and ready for another run.

3. Kansas – The Jayhawks may take their lumps early in the season as a boatload of newcomers adjust to the college game, but by the Big 12 season, this should be a dangerous team.

4. Baylor – The Bears were a great story last year and, returning most of that team, figure to be an exciting and dangerous squad again this season.

5. Texas A&M – Mark Turgeon had an up-and-down first year in College Station, but veterans Josh Carter and Donald Sloan have been to a few rodeos and their experience should carry the Aggies to the NCAA tournament.

6. Missouri – While the Mike Anderson era has not gone smoothly so far, the combination of Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll will present tough matchups for most opponents.

7. Oklahoma State – Travis Ford takes over a team full of talented guards, but quite thin up front. They may be an exciting team, but they will wear down due to the lack of size over the course of the season.

8. Texas Tech – Pat Knight’s first full season as the Red Raider’s head coach will likely showcase the fact that Bobby’s son will need to start hitting the recruiting trail.

9. Kansas State – It was fun while it lasted, but NBA talents like Michael Beasley and Bill Walker are not easily replaced.

10. Colorado – A thin, small, under-talented team that will win a few games they shouldn’t due to style of play, coaching and altitude.

11. Nebraska – Some talented guards surround a big hole in the middle, left by graduate Aleks Maric.

12. Iowa State – While Coach Greg McDermott brought in a strong recruiting class, this squad is still at least a year away from inching up the standings.

Preseason All-Conference

First Team
PG Byron Eaton Sr Oklahoma State
SG Willie Warren Fr Oklahoma
SG Josh Carter Sr Texas A&M
SF Damion James Jr Texas
PF Blake Griffin So Oklahoma

Second Team
PG AJ Abrams Sr Texas
SG Curtis Jerrels Sr Baylor
SG Justin Mason Jr Texas
PF Leo Lyons Sr Missouri
SF DeMarre Carroll Sr Missouri

Third Team
PG Jacob Pullen So Kansas State
PG Sherron Collins Jr Kansas
SG Abe Dagunduro Sr Nebraska
SF James Anderson So Oklahoma State
C Cole Aldrich So Kansas

All Freshman Team
SG Willie Warren Oklahoma
SF Anthony Jones Baylor
PF LA Pomlee Iowa State
PF Marcus Morris Kansas
PF David Loubeau Texas A&M

Preseason Tournament Tie-Ins

Baylor - Anaheim Classic
Possible opponents: Providence, Arizona State/Charlotte, Wake Forest/St. Mary’s

Kansas - CBE Classic
Possible opponents: Washington, Syracuse/Florida

Kansas State – Las Vegas Invitational
Possible opponents: Kentucky, Iowa/West Virginia

Missouri – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Possible opponents: Xavier, Virginia Tech, USC/Seton Hall/Memphis

Oklahoma – NIT Season Tip-Off
Possible opponents: Mississippi Valley State, Davidson, Arizona/UAB, Boston College/Purdue

Oklahoma State – Old Spice Classic
Possible opponents: Gonzaga, Maryland/Michigan State, Wichita State/Georgetown/Siena/Tennessee

Texas – Maui Invitational
Possible opponents: St. Joe’s, Notre Dame, North Carolina/Oregon/Alabama

Texas Tech – Legend’s Classic
Possible opponents: Pitt, Mississippi State/Washington State

Top 10 Non- Conference Games

12/4 USC @ Oklahoma
Just one of several very compelling Big 12/Pac-10 matchups, this one between teams with March (and April) dreams.

12/4 Oklahoma State @ Washington
A good early chance to see where two interesting teams stand.

12/4 UCLA @ Texas
Another Big 12/Pac-10 matchup between national title contenders

12/6 Baylor @ Washington State
A rematch of what was a great interconference battle last season.

12/9 Villanova @ Texas
This is just one stop in a murderer’s row of a non-conference schedule for the Longhorns, featuring top 25 opponents at every turn.

12/20 Michigan State @ Texas
Yet another instance of a Big 12 team facing a foe with national title aspirations.

12/23 Texas @ Wisconsin
To cap a grueling non-conference run, the Longhorns have to travel up north to face a rugged Badger team.

1/3 Tennessee @ Kansas
Just when you thought Texas had a monopoly on brutal non-conference schedules, Kansas kicks off a trifecta of intense games, just before their conference schedule begins.

1/6 Siena @ Kansas
At first glance, this may not look like much, but Siena is one of the best “mid-majors” this season, and to make matters worse, this is the meat in a Tennessee/at Michigan State sandwich.

1/10 Kansas @ Michigan State
As Kansas’ reward for getting through this tough roadies, the Jayhawks will get to head home to open Big 12 play against in-state rival Kansas State three nights later.

Predicted NCAA Tournament Invites (5):

Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Baylor, Texas A&M

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