Big 12 Men’s Basketball Season Preview (2020-21)
According to the Big 12 basketball odds, it looks like it’ll be a two-horse race to decide the conference title. Baylor and Kansas are essentially deadlocked at the top, while Kansas State apparently may as well not even show up.
Is there anyone that can challenge the Bears and the Jayhawks? Which of these programs has the edge?
This is exactly where a Big 12 basketball preview comes in.
Big 12 Basketball Tournament Odds
To further illustrate why Baylor and Kansas aren’t getting much of a push from anyone else in the conference, take a quick peek at last year’s standings.
|Team||Conference Record in 2019-20|
Nobody even sniffed the schools in Lawrence and Waco.
Two Distinct Favorites in the Big 12
Now that it’s firmly established who the best two teams are, let’s assess the Bears and the Jayhawks individually.
Jared Butler barely missed the cut for my top 5 contenders for the Wooden Award. Then again, perhaps I could have included MaCio Teague as well.
Butler’s ability to score from everywhere on the court is why he stands alone as the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. Teague gets it done on both ends of the court and has been incredibly consistent throughout his collegiate career.
Aside from having a couple of studs in the backcourt, Baylor really makes their hay by putting maximum pressure on their opponent. Scott Drew preaches hard-nosed defense – a theme that blends nicely with a roster full of length and determination.
An opening test against #1-ranked Gonzaga (11/26) is going to give us a good look at how Bill Self’s team will respond after waving goodbye to their top two players.
Incoming frosh Bryce Thompson is set to shoulder a big load, although judging by the five-star prospect’s mixtape, it looks like he was born for this moment.
Bryce can dribble, pass, shoot, slash, defend, and most importantly, seems always to make the right basketball decision. Senior Marcus Garrett joins Thompson to form a formidable “1-2 punch” in the backcourt.
A Team That Could Surprise in the Big 12
To be fair, anyone other than Baylor or Kansas winning the Big 12 tournament would be a major surprise. If there’s one team that has the makeup to do it, it’s Bob Huggins group in Morgantown.
I liken West Virginia to a poor man’s version of Virginia – the favorites to emerge in the ACC.
The Mountaineers play more than just dependable defense; they can suffocate teams and take them completely out of their element. Case in point – opposition shot just 39.1% from the field versus the Mountaineers a season ago.
It’s a stretch to think that WVU’s offense is potent enough to keep pace, but rising sophomore Oscar Tshiebwe is a monster in the middle. I expect the 260-pound center from Congo to be a walking double-double in the upcoming year.
Who Are the Best Players in the Big 12?
There are lots of talented players in this conference. Brady Manek of Oklahoma is a versatile forward, and Kansas has an exciting JUCO transfer named Tyon Grant-Foster, who should immediately bolster the Jayhawks lineup.
However, this section is saved for the best players in the Big 12.
Cade Cunningham – Oklahoma State
All you need to know is that Cade Cunningham is on everyone’s shortlist of sincere Wooden Award candidates in 2020-21. On his way toward becoming the top pick in next year’s draft, here’s a 6’8” 220-pound shooting guard with the vision and basketball IQ of a top-tier point guard.
Fans in Stillwater most definitely have themselves a true diaper dandy.
Jared Butler – Baylor
While Jared Butler may not have the eye-popping potential possessed by Cade Cunningham, Baylor’s leader is still the total package. His handy skillset is one reason he’s so respected in this league, but it’s the improvements he made across the board from year one to year two that has me captivated.
Now entering year three, look for Jared to be a First-Team All-American and lead the Bears to a Big 12 Tournament title.
Oscar Tshiebwe – West Virginia
I gave it away in the segment about sleepers, but the big man in Morgantown is going to cause fits for defenders on a nightly basis. A rim protector by trade, his development on offense is what’s exciting.
Tshiebwe shot over 70% from the free-throw line as a freshman and clocked in at over 55% from the field. Averaging 16/11 this season won’t be out of the question.
More College Basketball Conference Season Previews
Feel free to take a peek at a handful of college basketball conference tournament predictions. Those who want to continue zeroing in on posts similar to this Big 12 basketball season preview, have at it.