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Originally published January 2, 2012 at 12:00a.m., updated January 2, 2012 at 04:26p.m.

Keegan

Baylor barely team to beat

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Once the Big 12 season tips off at 6 p.m. today on ESPNU when Texas A&M; travels to Waco to face undefeated Baylor, discussion of where the conference stands compared to other heavyweights gives way to talk of the far more compelling race for a league title.

First, a look at how the Big 12 performed in compiling a 100-26 record (73-4 at home) in the nonconference portion of the season. It went a combined 16-7 against the Big East (7-4), Big Ten (4-1) and Pac-12 (5-2), which means the Big 12 has huge muscles. Not so fast. It also went a combined 6-13 vs. the ACC (1-6), Missouri Valley (2-3) and SEC (3-4).

Forecasting a Big 12 champion isn’t any easier than it was when the season tipped off in November, but it’s worth taking a shot at a predicted order of finish.

1. Baylor (13-0): Bears strength is up front, where a bunch of guys named Quincy and Jones keep ending up on the right side of thrillers. Baylor always has three long, springy players in the back of its 2-3 zone. Anthony Jones backs up Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy, but it’s 5-foot-10 junior guard Pierre Jackson, a juco transfer and Las Vegas native who keeps coming up big in the clutch for the Bears. Nobody does better in thrillers than Jackson. In the team’s three tight games, Jackson had a shot-block at the buzzer and a pair of game-winning shots.

Most impressive victory: At Brigham Young, 86-83.

Best player: Perry Jones III, 6-11, Jr., Duncansville, Texas.

2. Missouri (13-0): First-year coach Frank Haith has not let the ongoing NCAA investigation into needy booster Nevin Shapiro’s allegations that Haith knew about a $10,000 payment to a player he was recruiting when at Miami distract him from keeping the Tigers on track.

The fast-paced Tigers take care of the basketball, know how to get good shots and have a wide array of accurate shooters. They lead the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (.517), three-point percentage (.415) and free-throw percentage (.766).

Most impressive victory: Notre Dame, 87-58.

Best player: Kim English, 6-6, Sr., Baltimore, Md.

3. Kansas (10-3): Rebounded remarkably well from surprising news that freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor would not be eligible to play this season. It crippled the team’s depth, but nobody ever talks about it, mopes about it, or uses it as an excuse.

Best player: Thomas Robinson, 6-10, Jr., Washington, D.C.

Most impressive victory: Ohio State, 78-67.

Worst loss: Davidson, 80-74, in Sprint Center.

4. Kansas State (11-1): Not unlike the Wildcats’ football team, Frank Martin’s physical scrappers have exceeded expectations by playing terrific team ball. Freshman forward Thomas Gipson got out of the gate great and has hit the freshman wall. Just as he started to slump, freshman point guard Angel Rodriguez emerged.

Best player: Rodney McGruder, 6-4, Jr., Washington, D.C.

Most impressive victory: Alabama, 71-58, in Sprint Center.

Lone loss: West Virginia, 85-80, double overtime, in Wichita.

5. Texas (10-3): Freshman Myck Kabongo ranks second in the conference in assists (5.46) and knows where to pass the ball, to Big 12 leading scorer J’Covan Brown (19.3). The Longhorns most talented frontcourt players also are their least experienced, which will make winning the conference title a tough challenge.

Best player: J’Covan Brown, 6-3, Jr., Port Arthur, Texas.

Most impressive victory: Temple, 77-65.

Worst loss: North Carolina State, 77-74, in New Jersey.

6. Texas A&M; (9-3): Star Khris Middleton missed seven full games after suffering hamstring injury in the first half of the season-opener and has performed unevenly in his four games since returning. Strong post player David Loubeau, who seems as if he’s been an Aggie for a good 15 years, finally is a senior.

Best player: Khris Middleton, 6-8, Jr., North Charleston, S.C.

Most impressive victory: St. John’s, 58-57, in Madison Square Garden.

Worst loss: Rice, 65-58.

7. Oklahoma (10-2): Lon Kruger’s Sooners have done surprisingly well and Steve Pledger, shooting .484 from three-point range and averaging 18.8 points, deserves some of the credit. Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, has shot .410 from long range and help opponents to .309.

Best player: Steven Pledger, 6-4, Jr., Chesapeake, Va.

Most impressive victory: Arkansas, 78-63.

Worst loss: St. Louis, 83-63, in Anaheim.

8. Oklahoma State (7-6): Talented freshman forward Le’Bryan Nash has struggled to find consistency and has made just 11 of 43 field-goal attempts the past four games and is shooting .364 overall and .240 on three-pointers.

Best player: Keiton Page, 5-9, Sr., Pawnee, Okla.

Most impressive victory: At Missouri State, 72-67.

Worst loss: New Mexico, 66-56, in Oklahoma City.

9. Iowa State (10-3): Forward Royce White, who was on the wrong side of the law at Minnesota and never did play for the Gophers, is making the most of his second chance. He leads the Cyclones in points, rebounds and assists.

Best player: Royce White, 6-8, So., Minneapolis.

Most impressive victory: Iowa, 86-76.

Worst loss: At Drake, 74-65.

10. Texas Tech (7-5): Billy Gillispie, a proven recruiter and coach, will turn it around, but it’s not going to happen this year. The safest prediction is picking the Red Raiders to finish last.

Best player: Jordan Tolbert, 6-7, Fr., Fort Worth, Texas.

Most impressive victory: North Texas, 69-64.

Worst loss: Indiana State, 60-49, in Florida.

• A previous version of this story has been updated.

Comments

Mo Golany 9 years, 11 months ago

Let's see how Baylor and Mizoo do in a ramped up Allen Fieldhouse! Plus, 8 in a row until someone knocks us off! I like our chances onces HCBS gets us rolling!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

"Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the planes, has shot .410 from long range and help opponents to .309."

Sweeping down the "planes?" Does this have some deep meaning I'm not getting, Tom?

Dirk Medema 9 years, 11 months ago

OU probably does not "help" opponents, but has "held" opponents to .309.

It's a shame just little more research couldn't have been done to include say the SOS, RPI, or another rating for each team. Even that 2nd paragraph about the conference would have been nice with the best wins - worst losses similar to what was done for each team. Maybe Jesse can take this draft and turn it into a prof quality piece.

blackhawkjayhawk 9 years, 11 months ago

Enough basketball....I need a football story.

Patrickulating 9 years, 11 months ago

I think Perry Jones is from Greg Ostertag's hometown of Duncanville (singular), Texas.

Ron Franklin 9 years, 11 months ago

1, Baylor-15-3 2. Kansas 14'-4 3. KState 13-5 3. Missouri 13-5 5. Texas A&M 12-6. Texas 7. Oklahoma 11-7 8. Iowa St 10-8 9.Oklahoma State 6-12 10. Texas Tech 5-14

KU takes the Big 12 tournament and then loses after the sweet 16 round, just missing the Elite 8.

I would consider that a successful season.

Rock Chalk

KU_Alumn_2000 9 years, 11 months ago

There have been so many seasons when the media's pre-season predictions has KU not winning the Big 12. Heck...ol Dicky V had us taking 5th last year!!!

Im with a lot of you...we will win the Big 12 again and make it 8 straight. This team is talented enough to go deep into the NCAA tourney.

TwistedFish31 9 years, 11 months ago

mizzourah is ranked 11th in the Sagarin computer rankings with a 334 (out of 345) strength of schedule. I would guess there are about 30-40 teams that would be 13-0 had they played mu's schedule. I have no respect for that team at all. KU finished the non conference schedule ranked 9th with the 40th harder schedule. Out of the Top 25 teams, only Duke had a harder non conference schedule according to Sagarin.

Brandon Pope 9 years, 11 months ago

That is a very good point. The SOS is so crucial to how a team does in the end. The key is to find a balance between the W-L column and the experience you get from playing REAL competition. A more talented KU team would have probably ended this non-con schedule 12-1 and ranked in the top 10 but with loads more experience than the 13-0 mizzourah tigers who have spent their November and December beating up on the likes of Kennesaw and Navy.

Their SOS is the lowest in the top 64 RPI and it is not even close. They are a team ripe for the picking as far as I am concerned. I am looking forward to the ranking boost we get by beating the "#8 best team in America." If they can survive exposure that long.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 11 months ago

I wouldn't put MU or BU ahead of KU at this point in time. Neither one of them has played a big team. Baylor has played one team of note and that is BYU, and this is not the same BYU team from last year. I believe that BYU lost by 20 against Utah State. On top of that Baylor was very close to losing that game.

Missouri's schedule is embarrassing. And wins against ND and Pitt have seemed less of a win then origninally thought.

KU however has wins against OSU and I would say our most impressive win is actually against Georgetown. This team has performed solidly. When KU beat GU it was on a neutral court as well. That team had the inside presence that very few teams have and KU beat them solidly.

I know this was to invoke some type of contraversy, but I see about 3-4 losses by KU (@Baylor, @OSU-HCBS has always struggled there, and maybe @KSU). I think though people will be surprised how well we do in conference play. I imagine that Baylor will have some surprises from Texas, TTU, and TAM.

I think KU will win the Big XII by 2 games.

Clarence Haynes 9 years, 11 months ago

Tough defense by TT, Travis, and EJ could give us an edge over MIzzou. The question mark about Baylor is (imo) coaching. K State vs KU will be fun to watch.

danmoore 9 years, 11 months ago

Anyone but mizwho. They can not win the conference in their last season ever in the Big 12.

Blake McFarland 9 years, 11 months ago

i'm sorry but the pun in the headline, made me have a bad attitude when I read this.

Eric Bernauer 9 years, 11 months ago

"Wind comes sweeping down the planes"? Inappropriate for anyone let alone a professional writer considering two lives were lost.

johninkc1 9 years, 11 months ago

I was not a journalism or English major but wouldn't the word be "plains" rather than "planes." The use here is poor given the tragedies sufferred by the OSU nation even though it was used to describe OU. I think the team has its work cut out for it but no Misery team should ever win the Big 12 and Baylor does not have HCBS or MR Robinson. ROCK CHALK!

rockchalk_dpu 9 years, 11 months ago

Nice of Keegan to repackage an article from the CBB blog 'Rush the Court'. I read this the other day and the order is oddly similar. I also agree with previous posters saying that he could have tried to add some more material to support his points. Hopefully the weak schedule Meth-zoo has played with show up, paired with their lack of size for several losses to prove the early ranking was undeserved.

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