Monday, 16 November 2009

Big 12 Basketball Preview

If you look at the experts of most predictions, Kansas is the almost consensus choice to win the national championship. It's easy to see why. They return everyone from a Sweet 16 team a year ago, including Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, two Player of the Year candidates. They also return guys like Tyshawn Taylor and Markief Morris, two talented guys who were just getting their feet wet last season. To top it off, they are adding Xavier Henry, one of the best freshmen in the country, a guy that scored 27 points in his collegiate debut. They are the most talented and experienced team in the country.

However, they will have competition within their own conference, as Texas also looks like a Final Four contender. Damion James is one of the most versatile players in the country, and he is joined by Dexter Pittman and Justin Mason to form a solid senior trio. Gary Johnson provides depth and bulk up front, as he was a double digit scorer last season. In the backcourt, Avery Bradley is one of the best freshmen in the country, and should be a great defender from day one. Varez Ward and Florida transfer Jai Lucas should battle for minutes at the point. The Longhorns will be a great team under Rick Barnes.

Oklahoma lost Player of the Year Blake Griffin, but they appear to simply reload under Jeff Capel. Willie Warren was a high recruit last year, and should take control of the team in his second season. Tony Crocker joins him to form a solid backcourt. Upfront, Keith "Tiny" Gallon will be relied upon to contribute immediately, and he seems up for the challenge, as he scored 18 points and grabbed 15rebounds in his college debut.

There is a large talent dropoff after those three teams, but there are still some teams that get after it. Kansas State has some very solid scorers in Frank Martin's third season. Oklahoma St. finished very strong last year, and will look to build on that, led by James Anderson. Iowa St. will look to get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in years, and they might have the firepower to do that with the return of Craig Brackins, one of the best players in the conference.

The Big 12 appears to be very top heavy heading into the season, but the top of the conference might be better than in any other conference in America. Kansas is the number 1 team in the country, and Texas is not far behind. If Oklahoma can be a top 10 team, the Big 12 could be the most talented conference in America.