Friday, November 6, 2009

Big 12 Conference Preview


When a league has the top teams in the country, it is difficult to argue with them as being the number one conference in the nation. Kansas and Texas have arguably the most talent of any two teams, and will be battling for national and conference supremacy all season long. After those two, there are several quality teams in the league, led by Oklahoma. Kansas State has a chance to step up and make a leap forward in the standings, while Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are also threats. Missouri will take a step back, but don't count them out. A team in the bottom half to watch could be Iowa State, home to Craig Brackins and several quality perimeter players. What sets this league apart from the rest of the country -- aside from Kansas and Texas -- is the individual talent. Just look at the first-team all-conference squad; that could easily be an All-American team. This league will be more than just Kansas and Texas this season -- it will be the best conference in America. 

Player of the Year: Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas

Newcomer of the Year: Avery Bradley, G, Texas

All-Conference Team:
G- Sherron Collins, Kansas
G- Willie Warren, Oklahoma
G/F- James Anderson, Oklahoma State 
F- Craig Brackins, Iowa State
C- Cole Aldrich, Kansas

Second Team:
G- Avery Bradley, Texas
G- Denis Clemente, Kansas State
G- Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
G- Xavier Henry, Kansas 
F- Damion James, Texas

Third Team:
G- Cory Higgins, Colorado
F- Mike Singletary, Texas Tech
F- Jordan Hamilton, Texas 
F- Bryan Davis, Texas A&M
C- Dexter Pittman, Texas

Projected Order of Finish

1. Kansas: The preseason No. 1 team in the country, the Jayhawks have all the pieces necessary to win the title. If their off-court problems aren't a distraction during the season, there should not be anything stopping them. Prediction: NCAA
2. Texas: The Longhorns might be the deepest and most talented team in the country. They have weapons everywhere, and have one of the best benches around. The one thing that could hinder them is outside shooting. Prediction: NCAA
3. Oklahoma: Despite the loss of Blake Griffin, the Sooners are going to be a threat in the Big 12. Willie Warren returns, and freshmen Tommy Mason-Griffin and Tiny Gallon are a dynamite inside-outside duo. Prediction: NCAA
4. Kansas State: The Wildcats are hungry to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and have the backcourt in Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. Freshman Wally Judge and UConn transfer Curtis Kelly are keys up front. Prediction: NCAA
5. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys run-and-gun style is back and will be a problem for opponents. James Anderson and Obi Muonelo form a an outstanding wing tandem, and Marshall Moses anchors the frontcourt. Prediction: NCAA
6. Texas A&M: The losses of Josh Carter and Chinemelu Elonu will hurt, but Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis will help lead the Aggies back to the NCAA Tournament. Role players will need to step up and provide support. Prediction: NCAA
7. Missouri: Last year's surprise Elite Eight team, the Tigers won't be as good as a season ago, but J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor are the best defensive backcourt in the country. They need help up front, though. Prediction: NIT
8. Baylor: The Bears always seem to have perimeter talent, and this year is no different with LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, and freshman Nolan Dennis. Transfer Ekpe Udoh will make an impact up front. Prediction: NIT
9. Iowa State: Craig Brackins is one of the best players in the country, and he can carry the Cyclones on his back. JC transfer Marquis Gilstrap will help him up front, and Diante Garrett leads the backcourt. Prediction: CBI/CIT
10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have solid building blocks in assist-man extraordinaire John Roberson and forward Mike Singletary, but they don't have many other options to compete in the conference. Prediction: No Postseason
11. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers return no one who averaged more than eight points per game last season, but they have 12 players who did not see time last season coming into the program. Prediction: No Postseason
12. Colorado: The Buffaloes won just one Big 12 game last season, and they don't figure to be that much better. However, guard Cory Higgins gives fans a reason to watch them -- despite the struggles. Prediction: No Postseason

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