Kansas State University

November 3, 2012

The Big 12 Conference

Coach: Bill Self, 269-53 in nine seasons

1. Kansas

Coach: Bill Self, 269-53 in nine seasons

2011-12: 32-7, 16-2 Big 12 (1st), NCAA Tournament

Star power: C Jeff Withey (9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds), G Elijah Johnson (10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds), Ben McLemore (newcomer)

Remember this name: F Perry Ellis. The Wichita native should contribute immediately as a freshman.

On the bright side: The Jayhawks are once again the favorites to win the Big 12. Withey is the conference’s best shot-blocker, and McLemore and a strong freshman class make Kansas tough to beat.

Compelled to mention: Kansas relied so much on Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson last year that it may struggle early while it adjusts to new leadership.

Come mid-March: Expect KU to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. It has the talent, though not the experience, to get back to the Final Four.

2. Baylor

Coach: Scott Drew, 157-124 in nine seasons

2011-12: 30-8, 12-6 Big 12 (3rd), NCAA Tournament

Star power: G Pierre Jackson (13.8 points, 5.9 assists), G Brady Heslip (10.2 points, 1.3 rebounds), C Isaiah Austin (newcomer)

Remember this name: G A.J. Walton. He was a contributor last year and should be much more now.

On the bright side: Jackson might be the best guard in the Big 12, and Austin is one of the top incoming freshmen in the nation. Baylor is once again talented.

Compelled to mention: Do you trust Drew to lead Baylor through this transition? The Bears underachieved with an experienced group last season.

Come mid-March: The Bears will be a Sweet 16 contender.

3. Oklahoma State

Coach: Travis Ford, 80-55 in four seasons

2011-12: 15-18, 7-11 Big 12 (7th)

Star power: G Marcus Smart (newcomer), G/G Le’Bryan Nash (13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds), G Markel Brown (10.5 points, 5.1 rebounds)

Remember this name: G Phil Forte. He was a package recruitment deal with Smart, but he can shoot and might make an impact this year, too.

On the bright side: This is the most talented team Ford has had at Oklahoma State. Smart is a national Freshman of the Year candidate and Nash was one of the Big 12’s best young players last year. Brown is underrated.

Compelled to mention: It might be hard for the Cowboys to find leadership early. Their best players are all underclassmen. Can Ford convince them to play together from the get-go?

Come mid-March: Oklahoma State has too much talent to miss out on the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season. Expect the Cowboys to compete for a Sweet 16 spot.

4. Kansas State

Coach: Bruce Weber, first season

2011-12: 22-11, 10-8 Big 12 (5th), NCAA Tournament

Star power: G-F Rodney McGruder (15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds), F Jordan Henriquez (7.6 points, 5.8 rebounds), G Angel Rodriguez (8.3 points, 2.0 assists)

Remember this name: F Nino Williams. The former four-star recruit barely played under Frank Martin, but he should get major minutes under Weber.

On the bright side: You always know what you are going to get from McGruder, and with a familiar group of 12 returning players coming back he should be able to take his game to another level in Weber’s up-tempo offense.

Compelled to mention: Until Henriquez proves he can play strong inside for a full season, the Wildcats will have questions in the paint. Weber will ask Adrian Diaz to do more than he did a year ago, and freshman DJ Johnson may have to play an important role.

Come mid-March: The Wildcats should make it back to the NCAA Tournament, but they will need to win 11 or 12 conference games to earn a favorable seed.

5. West Virginia

Coach: Bob Huggins, 105-56 in five seasons

2011-12: 19-14, 9-9 Big East (9th), NCAA Tournament

Star power: F Deniz Kilicli (10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds), G Jabarie Hinds (7.4 points, 3.3 assists), G Gary Browne (6.5 points, 3.9 rebounds)

Remember this name: G Matt Humphrey. The Boston College transfer will be a big factor on offense.

On the bright side: Huggins has had success in the Big East and knows all about the Big 12 from his time at Kansas State. West Virginia should be one of the toughest places to play, and Kilicli is one of the toughest big men in the league. That should be enough for the Mountaineers to succeed.

Compelled to mention: West Virginia had obvious flaws last year and will have to try to fix them without Kevin Jones, who averaged a double-double.

Come mid-March: The Mountaineers will be close to .500 in the Big 12. A difficult nonconference schedule should help them reach the NCAA Tournament.

6. Texas

Coach: Rick Barnes, 324-137 in 14 seasons

2011-12: 20-14, 9-9 Big 12 (6th), NCAA Tournament

Star power: G Myck Kabongo (9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds), G Sheldon McClellan (11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds), G Julien Lewis (7.8 points, 3.6 rebounds)

Remember this name: F Cameron Ridley. The freshman big man should help improve a front court that needs more size.

On the bright side: If Kabongo plays most of the season, Texas should be improved even without J’Covan Brown. Kabongo was one of the league’s best guards last year, and Texas has a strong group of incoming freshmen.

Compelled to mention: If Kabongo misses significant time because of NCAA sanctions — he’s been tied to an agent — Texas will be in trouble.

Come mid-March: The Longhorns should resemble the team they were last year. Expect them to start slow and start winning big games late in the year once newcomers adjust to Barnes’ style of play.

7. Oklahoma

Coach: Lon Kruger, 15-16 in one season

2011-12: 15-16, 5-13 Big 12 (8th)

Star power: F Andrew Fitzgerald (12.1 points, 5.0 rebounds), G Steven Pledger (16.2 points, 3.9 rebounds), F Romero Osby (12.9 points, 7.3 rebounds)

Remember this name: F Amath M’Baye, a Wyoming transfer, will help Oklahoma inside and out.

On the bright side: Don’t be surprised if the Sooners challenge for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Fitzgerald and Pledger are two of the better players in the Big 12, and Kruger proved he could coach by sweeping K-State last season with a young team.

Compelled to mention: Oklahoma lost plenty of close games last year. Unless it can learn to protect its home court, it won’t move up in the Big 12 standings.

Come mid-March: Expect the Sooners to make the NIT after falling on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.

8. Iowa State

Coach: Fred Hoiberg, 39-27 in two seasons

2011-12: 23-11, 12-6 Big 12 (3rd), NCAA Tournament

Star power: F Melvin Ejim (9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds), G Chris Babb (7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds), G Tyrus McGee (7.7 points, 3.3 rebounds)

Remember this name: G Korie Lucious. The Michigan State transfer might be the Cyclones’ best player.

On the bright side: Iowa State is hard to beat at home, and its new transfers will allow it to be competitive on the road even without Royce White.

Compelled to mention: White led Iowa State in practically every statistical category last year. He won’t be easy to replace.

Come mid-March: The Cyclones might challenge for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT seems more likely.

9. TCU

Coach: Trent Johnson, first season

2011-12: 18-15, 7-7 Mountain West (5th), CBI

Star power: F Carlon Green (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds), F Amric Fields (9.6 points, 2.5 rebounds), G Kyan Anderson (8.3 points, 2.8 assists)

Remember this name: F Adrick McKinney. The senior will once again be asked to step up this season.

On the bright side: The Horned Frogs played well near the end of last season, and could keep that momentum going under Johnson.

Compelled to mention: TCU will struggle in its first year in the Big 12.

Come mid-March: The Horned Frogs might finish higher than Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings, but they won’t make the postseason.

10. Texas Tech

Coach: Chris Walker, first season

2011-12: 8-23, 1-17 Big 12 (10th)

Star power: F Jaye Crockett (8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds), F Jordan Tolbert (11.5 points, 5.7 rebounds), G Ty Nurse (8.9 points, 1.8 rebounds)

Remember this name: G Josh Gray. The point guard might start right away.

On the bright side: The worst is behind them with Billy Gillispie out as coach. Things can only go up when the games start.

Compelled to mention: Texas Tech was by far the league’s worst team last year, and now it is playing for an interim coach. Not an ideal recipe for success.

Come mid-March: The Red Raiders’ most competitive games will come against TCU, but nothing beyond the league tournament.

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