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Previewing the Big 12 for 2021-22 – Can Baylor Repeat?

| November 8, 2021 12:19 pm PDT

Most seasons, the Big 12 battles for second as Kansas runs away with the Championship. However, we’re beginning to see more balance in the conference.

Kansas State and Texas Tech shared the title in 2018-19, while Baylor claimed the prize last season.

This season, Kansas opens as the favorite. Two other Big 12 teams rank in the preseason AP Poll. Who are those teams and how do they stack up against Kansas?

Here are the odds for the Big 12.

Odds to Win the Big 12

Kansas+190
Texas+240
Baylor+450
Texas Tech+800
West Virginia+1200
Oklahoma State+1600
Oklahoma+2500
TCU+8000
Iowa State+15000
Kansas State+15000

At this point, it’s surprising to see a team other than Kansas open as the favorite. Even so, I wouldn’t hand them the Big 12 just yet.

Texas opens the season No. 5, while Baylor ranks No. 8. They are the only Big 12 teams ranked, but Texas Tech and Oklahoma State received votes.

There’s a reason Kansas stands out above everyone. Let’s talk about it.

Kansas (+190)

As much success as Kansas has had, they haven’t made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 2018.

Last season, the Tournament was rough. They had to overcome a 10-point second-half deficit to defeat No. 14 Eastern Washington. In the second round, they looked lifeless in an 85-51 loss to USC.

This season, Kansas is ready for redemption.

Kansas returns four of their five starters, with only Marcus Garrett leaving for the NBA Draft. Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack return as the leaders of this Kansas team. Last season, Agbaji led the team with 14.1 points per game.

McCormack wasn’t far behind with 13.4 points per game and 6.1 rebounds. He also shot 51.5 percent from the field.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing going into this season is the addition of Remy Martin. The six-foot point guard transferred from Arizona State and will play his fifth season at Kansas.

Over the last two seasons, Martin has made the All-Pac-12 first-team. Check out his numbers.

2019-20 2020-21
Points 19.1 19.1
Assists 4.1 3.7
Rebounds 3.1 2.8
Steals 1.5 1.2
Three-Point Percentage 33.5 34.6

Agbaji, McCormack, and Martin made the preseason All-Big 12 team, while the preseason poll named Martin as the Big 12 Player of the Year.

With all the talent Kansas is returning, you almost forget about their recruiting class. No. 36 Zach Clemence, No. 47 K.J. Adams, and No. 92 Bobby Pettiford make up the three top 100 recruits.

The 6’10” Clemence shot 47 percent from three-point range his junior year. His shooting ability will allow Kansas to stretch the floor. Adams gives them a small forward, who averaged 25.0 points and 7.5 rebounds last season.

Bill Self has the talent in place. Can he lead this team to the Big 12 title?

Top Challengers in the Big 12

Kansas has a lot of talent, but they aren’t the only Big 12 team with a chance at the title.

Here are their top challengers.

Texas (+240)

Last season, Texas opened a new era with head coach Chris Beard. After finishing third in the Big 12, Texas went on to win the Big 12 Tournament over Oklahoma State. That earned them a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

In the first round, Texas fell victim to the dreaded 14 over three upset. Abilene Christian defeated Texas 53-52.

Texas did lose a good amount of talent with Matt Coleman, Greg Brown, and Kai Jones entering the NBA Draft.

Andrew Jones is Texas’ top returning. His story is unbelievable as he returned from leukemia in 2018 to lead Texas with 14.6 points per game and 4.5 rebounds last season. His return is a big boost but the reason for Texas’ high placement in the AP Poll comes with a new addition.

Marcus Carr joins Texas after spending three seasons with Minnesota. Last season, the media named Carr to the All-Big Ten second team.

Check out his numbers.

  • 19.4 points
  • 4.9 assists
  • 4.0 rebounds
  • 1.3 steals

Coming into this season, Carr has an excellent chance to win either Big 12 Player of the Year or Newcomer of the Year. He also made the preseason All-Big-12 team.

While Carr is the biggest player to join Texas, he isn’t the only player they added in the transfer pool.

Following two years at UMass, Tre Mitchell will join Texas. The 6’9” center has been a force in his time at UMass. For his career, he is averaging 18.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.1 steals. He also shot 49.1 percent from the field.

Texas begins the season No. 5 in the AP Poll. They have the star power in Carr and Mitchell to go along with a deep bench.

They look like a team that could make a Final Four run.

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Baylor (+450)

While Kansas and Texas had disappointing early exits from the NCAA Tournament last season, Baylor went on to win their first National Championship in school history.

Baylor never had much trouble in the Tournament, winning each game by at least nine points. That includes a 16-point victory over Gonzaga in the National Championship Game.

This season, Baylor will have a tougher task after losing Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and MaCio Teague. Butler and Mitchell made the All-Big 12 first team. Mitchell also won Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.

With the loss of talent, Baylor will ask Matthew Mayer and Adam Flagler to take on a bigger role.

Mayer came off the bench last season, averaging 8.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. He also shot 39.5 percent from three-point range. He earned a spot on the preseason All-Big 12 team.

Flagler averaged 9.1 points on 43.4 percent three-point shooting. In 2018-19, he averaged 15.9 points with Presbyterian.

Baylor strengthened their chances for a second straight title when they landed a pair of top 30 recruits.

Kendall Brown is one of the top small forwards in the country and will likely be a lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Brown’s offense can use some work, but he is an outstanding defender. That’ll be a big boost for Baylor after losing Mitchell.

Langston Love is the other recruit, but he’ll miss the season with a torn ACL.

James Akinjo will play for his third team in four seasons after transferring to Baylor. Last season, Akinjo averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 assists, while shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range. He was an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 team.

Scott Drew will have his work cut out for him, but he has shown that he is up for the challenge. Can Baylor overcome Kansas and Texas?

Top Sleepers in the Big 12

It seems like the top three teams have the advantage but never say never.

Here are my sleepers for the Big 12.

West Virginia (+1200)

Last season, the Big 12 had six teams in the top 25. Everyone knew about Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State, but I’d say people forgot about West Virginia. They had a great regular season, making the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed.

West Virginia took care of business in the first round before falling to upset-minded Syracuse.

They will have their work cut out for them after losing their two best players in Miles McBride and Derek Culver. Big man Oscar Tshiebwe also left after transferring to Kentucky.

With those guys leaving, West Virginia should lean on Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil. The guards were among West Virginia’s top scorers last season. Check out their numbers.

Taz Sherman Sean McNeil
Points 13.4 12.2
Rebounds 1.8 2.2
Assists 1.4 0.8
Three-Point Percentage 35.9 38.8

Sherman just fell short of making the preseason All-Big 12 team.

Another player returning is Gabe Osabuohien. The big man didn’t make much of an impact on offense, but he was arguably the best defender in the Big 12 last season. Of course, defense is one of the keys of a Bob Huggins led team.

West Virginia failed to land any top 100 recruits in the 2021 recruiting class. However, they managed to bring in three transfers. The most notable being Malik Curry.

The 6’1” guard spent the first two seasons of his career at Old Dominion. In that time, he averaged 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals. Because of Sherman and McNeil, Curry will likely come off the bench.

Losing McBride and Culver is a big loss, but doesn’t it always seem like Huggins finds a way to have his team in contention?

It’ll be tough to overcome the top teams but I wouldn’t count them out.

Oklahoma State (+1600)

Honestly, I’m a little surprised to see Oklahoma State with the sixth-best odds. They aren’t in the top 25 but they’re among the top teams receiving votes, coming in ahead of Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Oklahoma State defeated West Virginia and Baylor on their way to the Big 12 championship game. They lost to Texas and entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed. They fell in the second round to Oregon State.

Obviously, Oklahoma State suffered a big loss when Cade Cunningham left for the NBA Draft. The silver lining is Cunningham is the only impact player they lost.

Avery Anderson, Kalib Boone, Isaac Likekele, and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe all return. This team will need a little improvement from every player to make up for Cunningham.

Anderson takes over as the star of Oklahoma State. Check out his numbers from a season ago.

  • 12.2 points
  • 4.0 rebounds
  • 2.0 assists
  • 1.5 steals
  • 47.5 field goal percentage

While Oklahoma State brought back a lot of talent, two key transfers will join them.

Moussa Cisse comes to the school after spending his freshman year with Memphis. Cissa didn’t post great numbers with 6.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks. The numbers don’t tell the whole story though and Oklahoma State expects him to make a big impact.

Their other top pick up comes from Kansas. Like Cisse, Bryce Thompson doesn’t have the best numbers but there is a lot of potential.

He was a top 30 recruit in the 2020 class and dealt with a finger injury last season. His game should improve as he enters the season healthy.

Oklahoma State won’t play in the postseason, so their ultimate goal is to win the Big 12. That extra motivation could give them an edge.

Betting on Big 12 Basketball in 2021-22

Three teams open the season in the top 10. Kansas has a slight advantage but I wouldn’t crown them yet. A lot of people believe Texas is the better team and I can’t say I disagree with them.

I also wouldn’t count out Oklahoma State. Nearly their entire team is back and they brought in a pair of transfers. It should be a fun battle that will go down to the wire.

Whether you want to bet now or in March, you can do so with the top college basketball sites.

Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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