Big 12 basketball preview: The good, bad and utterly ridiculous

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After a monthlong hiatus, the blog returns just in time for the Big 12 basketball season. What better way to kick it off with a preview, plus some ridiculous predictions and team theme songs.

Predictions (CliffsNotes version)

1. Kansas (29-2, 14-2)

2. Texas (24-7, 11-5)

3. Missouri (25-6, 11-5)

4. Texas A&M (23-7, 10-6)

5. Kansas State (22-9, 10-6)

6. Oklahoma State (21-9, 9-7)

7. Baylor (18-11, 8-8)

8. Iowa State (19-12, 6-10)

9. Colorado (17-14, 6-10)

10. Nebraska (17-13, 5-11)

11. Texas Tech (11-20, 3-13)

12. Oklahoma (11-19, 3-13)

All-Big 12

G Jacob Pullen, Senior, Kansas State

G Marcus Denmon, Junior, Missouri

G LaceDarius Dunn, Senior, Baylor

F Marcus Morris, Junior, Kansas

F Jordan Hamilton, Sophomore, Texas

1. KANSAS JAYHAWKS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 29-2, 14-2. Until somebody knocks the Jayhawks off, this is the team to beat. With guard Josh Selby on the roster, Kansas is a legitimate national title contender.

TWO TO WATCH: F Marcus Morris (15.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Selby (15 ppg).

IN FANTASY LAND: Realizing they have no shot at winning the Big 12, the other 11 teams cancel their seasons. The NCAA Tournament field follows suit, and KU wins another national title. The Jayhawks then play Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson (all in their primes), LeBron James and Jesus, pulling away in the second half for a 15-point win.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Selby gets lost before the first round of the NCAA Tournament and can’t find his way back to school, failing to locate the City of Kansas on a map drawn by his mother. Along with Morris, suspended for shooting the basketball manager he’s dating with a pellet gun, Selby doesn’t play during a first-round loss to Oxnard Trucking School.

Jayhawks’ theme song …

2. TEXAS LONGHORNS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 24-7, 11-5. No Big 12 team has been more impressive in the nonconference than the Longhorns. But a brutal schedule against the South, plus a road game against Kansas, will prevent Texas from taking the top spot.

TWO TO WATCH: F Jordan Hamilton (19.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg), G Cory Joseph (11.2 ppg, 3.1 apg)

IN FANTASY LAND: The Longhorns finally live up to/exceed expectations, making a run at the national title. Fearing it has a legitimate foil, Kansas leaves for the MIAA, and Texas takes over as the conference basketball power.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Rick Barnes loses his mind, making guard Dogus Balbay (Doug Gottlieb-Lite) the focal point of the offense. The Longhorns proceed to finish 3-13 in the Big 12.

Longhorns’ theme song …

3. MISSOURI TIGERS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 25-6, 11-5. Mike Anderson has done an amazing job in Columbia considering what he walked into. Anchored by guard Marcus Denmon, a surprise contender for Big 12 player of the year, this could end up being Anderson’s best team.

TWO TO WATCH: Denmon (17.6 ppg, 50% 3’s, 87% FTs), F Laurence Bowers (12.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg)

IN FANTASY LAND: The NCAA stops boning Tony Mitchell, declaring the five-star recruit eligible, and the Tigers make a run at the school’s first national title. Anderson signs a 20-year extension after the season, adding Norm Stewart as an assistant.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Anderson resigns midway through the conference race to coach at Arkansas and Mike Alden hires Quin Snyder to finish the season.

Tigers’ theme song …

4. TEXAS A&M AGGIES

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 23-7, 10-6. Mark Turgeon doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done in College Station. Forward Khris Middleton leads a strong frontline that makes the Aggies contenders.

TWO TO WATCH: Middleton (15.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), F David Loubeau (11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

IN FANTASY LAND: As a favor to a former Jayhawk, Bill Self loans Selby to the Aggies for half the conference season, helping Texas A&M tie KU for the conference title.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Self leaves to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, and Turgeon takes over at his alma mater. The Aggies rehire Billy Gillispie, whose staff includes Melvin Watkins, he of the 0-16 Big 12 campaign, and Tony Barone.

Aggies’ theme song …

5. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 22-9, 10-6. Not comfortable with this pick. The Wildcats have some issues, but they’re still extremely talented. Ultimately, however, they’re asking too much of Jacob Pullen.

TWO TO WATCH: PG Pullen (17.2 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.7 rpg), F Curtis Kelly (10.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

IN FANTASY LAND: The NCAA grants Denis Clemente another year of eligibility, the Wildcats sweep Kansas and advance to the Final Four. In the offseason, Frank Martin signs a contract with HBO to play Tony’s long-lost brother Vito in “The Return of the Sopranos.”

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Martin finally explodes, going Hulk Hogan on his starting five, drawing a 20-game suspension and injuring half his roster. The Wildcats finish the season losing to Butler in the CBI.

Wildcats’ theme song …

6. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 21-9, 9-7. This team’s still a bit of a mystery and doesn’t own a signature win. The Cowboys lost by 21 at Gonzaga and by five at Virginia Tech. Still, Travis Ford is a rising star in the coaching biz.

TWO TO WATCH: F Marshall Moses (17.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg), G Keiton Page (13.9 ppg)

IN FANTASY LAND: The NCAA allows Bryant Reeves to return for another season, giving the Cowboys a needed boost inside. The 37-year-old Reeves rediscovers his youth, leading OSU to another Final Four.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Struggling due to a lack of depth, the 5-foot-1 Ford (OK, he’s 5-10), puts himself on the roster and also adds Skee-Lo, who still wishes he was a little bit taller. The Cowboys start four borderline midgets and are outrebounded by an average of 50 while finishing under .500.

Cowboys’ theme song …

7. BAYLOR BEARS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 18-11, 8-8. Wildly talented, but there’s something missing. Scott Drew did a great job bringing Baylor back, but can he take the Bears to the next level? Just don’t see it. Baylor has no notable wins and losses in its only games against good competition (Florida State, Gonzaga and Washington State).

TWO TO WATCH: G LaceDarius Dunn (23.4 ppg, 42% 3’s), F-C Perry Jones (11.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg)

IN FANTASY LAND: Dunn sets an NCAA record for 3-pointers in a season with 400 (never mind that it takes him 1,200 attempts), Drew relaxes and doesn’t act like a professional wrestling manager on the sideline, and Baylor lives up to its potential while winning the Big 12.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Drew tears an ACL while jumping around on the bench and coaches the rest of the season from a Little Rascal, Dunn inadvertently punches somebody on the court and is suspended, and Baylor fails to make the NIT.

Bears’ theme song …

8. IOWA STATE CYCLONES

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION:  19-12, 6-10. Iowa State welcomed back Fred Hoiberg with open arms (see video below), and he’s rewarded them with a strong start, though the only notable win is against Virginia. Still, expect ISU to be a tougher out this season.

TWO TO WATCH: G Diante Garrett (17 ppg, 6 apg), G Scott Christopherson (15.1 ppg, 52% 3’s)

IN FANTASY LAND: The Cyclones channel Marcus Fizer, Jamaal Tinsley and Julius Michalik, finishing above .500 in the Big 12 while advancing to the NCAA Tournament, where they beat Larry “Natty Lite” Eustachy and Southern Mississippi in the first round.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Hoiberg resigns to coach at Iowa, the Cyclones bring back Greg McDermott, half the roster immediately transfers and ISU finishes 0-16.

Cyclones’ theme song …

9. COLORADO BUFFALOES

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 17-14, 6-10. Some expected the Buffaloes to take a big step forward in their last season in the Big 12, but they already have four losses and no signature wins. A good start would be winning their opener Saturday against Missouri.

TWO TO WATCH: G Alec Burks (19.1 ppg), G Cory Higgins (16.6 ppg)

IN FANTASY LAND: Told by school officials he’s related to Cam Newton, the NCAA allows Chauncey Billups to return for his senior season. Billups joins Burks and Higgins to form the nation’s best backcourt as Colorado dominates the Big 12.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Colorado announces that Dan Hawkins will serve as co-head coach the remainder of the season. Thinking he’s coaching intramurals, where there are no fouls, Hawkins neglects to substitute and Burks and Higgins foul out in the first half of every league game.

Buffaloes’ theme song (you picked a fine time to leave us, Colorado)…

10. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 17-13, 5-11. Some might be excited by the Cornhuskers’ 12-2 start, but Nebraska’s schedule looks like Bill Snyder put it together. Doc Sadler’s a decent coach, but Nebraska and basketball just don’t mesh.

TWO TO WATCH: C Jorge Brian Diaz (10.9 ppg, 62% FG), G Lance Jeter (10.1 ppg, 3.9 apg)

IN FANTASY LAND: With a year of eligibility left, Ndamukong Suh returns to play basketball, dominating in the paint. Led by Suh’s 10 points, 15 rebounds and 19 personal fouls (four called) per game, the Cornhuskers earn a bid to the Big Dance.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Sadler hires Bo Pelini as an assistant. Pelini becomes the first coach to punch all three officials in a game, plus seven of his own players, leaving the turmoil-plagued Cornhuskers in ruins. NU fans still make excuses for their overrated, volatile, bully football coach.

Cornhuskers’ theme song …

11. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 11-20, 3-13. I admire Pat Knight for saying he should be fired if Tech has another mediocre season. Call it foreshadowing. This team isn’t good. Tech already has seven losses and its best win is against … Oral Roberts.

TWO TO WATCH: F Mike Singletary (13.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), G Brad Reese (13.3 ppg, 50% 3’s)

IN FANTASY LAND: Mike Leach takes over, locks both Knights in a closet and leads the Red Raiders to the NIT.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Broadcasting a game coached by his son, Bobby Knight chokes Pat for playing a 2-3 zone, throws a chair (with Dick Vitale still in it) onto the court, and Craig James is hired as the Red Raiders director of basketball operations.

Red Raiders’ theme song (watching this team any time is punishing) …

12. OKLAHOMA SOONERS

HONEST-TO-GOODNESS PREDICTION: 11-19, 3-13. Prediction? Pain. And lots of it. Talk about rapid falls from grace. Just two years ago the Sooners were in the Elite Eight. Now they’ll be lucky to hit double digits in wins.

TWO TO WATCH: F Andrew Fitzgerald (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg), G Cade Davis (13.1 ppg, 41% 3’s)

IN FANTASY LAND: The Thunder loans Kevin Durant to OU, the Sooners win the Big 12 and Barry Switzer is hired as AD.

RIDICULOUS WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Jeff Capel changes cell phone plans, unwittingly picking the “Kelvin Sampson” deluxe deal. The NCAA hands OU the death penalty, demanding that every phone in Norman be destroyed.

Sooners’ theme song …

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4 thoughts on “Big 12 basketball preview: The good, bad and utterly ridiculous

  1. Vicki Ruggiero

    Well, I was going to disagree with your selection for K-State as #5 but watching the end of the game today, that may be too high. But…. Missouri and Texas both lost today too. It’s early in the season.

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