Big 12 Hoops Conference Call

Well basketball season is here!  I'm still debating whether the NBA or exhibition games count more as basketball, but I really won't complain that there's real basketball to watch these days.  No offense to the dramatic, often depressing, stories of the offseason, but the leaves are falling and the real stories are here.  With that, let's get to the fourth installment of Big 12 Hoops Conference Call.

Here are today's questions (answers after the jump).  Feel free to chime in.

  1. Baylor got some more huge news when Scott Drew landed commits Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello.  Do you think Scott Drew has got the Bears in a place to be perennial conference contenders, or is it just a hot streak?

  2. We all liked the Big 12 to get six tournament bids this season.  Who do you think has a chance for a deep run?  Who are the most over-hyped and under-hyped teams in the Big 12 this season?

  3. Do you have any reservations about your preseason predictions?  Anything in particular you want to be able to take back in December?

  4. SI ranked the Big 12 the second best conference in college basketball after the Big 10.  Where do you see the Big 12 as a whole this season?

  5. What are your thoughts about the first week of the NBA season (which players have you been most impressed with and what has surprised you)?  I know there have been a few games that surprised me (like the Heat getting trounced in Boston and proceeding to dominate everyone else they’ve seen).

Baylor got some more huge news when Scott Drew landed commits Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello.  Do you think Scott Drew has got the Bears in a place to be perennial conference contenders, or is it just a hot streak?

EP: If you would have told me a few years ago that the Baylor Bears would have signed the top prospect of 2010 (Perry Jones) and two of the top 15 of 2011 I would have told you to put down the pipe and towel the door. This was a doormat of a program. When they would lose by less than 10 points it would be online chat fodder for opposing fans to rag a school. It was a joke. But now I think they are for real. Had it just been Jones, I think I would chalk it up to luck. But with these two signings it has to be more than that… right?

JL: I am leaning more towards them being a contender every season. Drew is proving he can recruit and I think they play a style that attracts kids too. Plus doesn’t hurt the fact his school is located down in Texas where a lot of talent comes out of so I think if he makes Baylor his long-term home he should keep having success.

MP: I'd have to agree.  I don't know what Drew is putting in the water during official visits, but it's working.  I'll be interested to see how long he stays at Baylor (or if after another season, big name schools pursue him aggressively).  If he can turn around Baylor, seems to me he can turn around about anyone.

We all liked the Big 12 to get six tournament bids this season. Who do you think has a chance for a deep run? Who are the most over-hyped and under-hyped teams in the Big 12 this season?

EP: Mizzou has the style of play that is difficult to plan for on short notice, and necessary experience to make a run deep in the tourney.
The most over-hyped team has to be Colorado. Listen, I am as bullish on the Buffs as anyone (I have them finishing 6th in conference and making the tourney) so I think they have the talent to make waves, but with a new coach and a team that really hasn't won anything, maybe last season's leap from last to 8th will be easier than my projected jump from 8th to 6th.

The most underrated team might be Texas A&M. They got so much bad news this offseason, from Tobi Oyedeji's tragic car accident to Derrick Roland's denial for an additional year, that it would be easy to chalk them up as a lower echelon team. They still have talent in College Station, and will be fighting all season for a coveted NCAA burth.

JL: Geez the NCAA Tourney is such a crapshoot, I think I had KU winning the title last year or minimum Final Four in the brackets I filled out and then boom Northern Iowa happens. I think three teams in the Big 12 have the best chance though to make a deep run and they are in no particular order: Baylor, KU & K-State. I think KSU & Baylor got the experience last year and are led by Seniors in Pullen & Dunn and they both have strong frontcourts who can rebound and score. Then I think KU has a lot of returning talent that will be ticked off about last season and should do better in the tourney this season.

Well in what sounds kind of weird since I said KSU has a good chance of making a deep run, I feel they are probably the most over-hyped team. Do they have the potential to be the #3 team in country and win the Big 12 yes they do. But all this might be a little too much too soon with them, still need to remember this a team that lost to Iowa State in Bramlage last season and had to fight like crazy to beat Nebraska in Bramlage as well. With the team that is probably most underrated, I have to agree with Evan on A&M. You don't hear anything about them and all Mark Turgeon does is get them into the NCAA Tourney every season.

MP: For the most underrated team, I'm calling on Texas Tech. I think they've got as good a chance of any of the "second tier" teams to make a big improvement. Plus I think Pat Knight will be coaching for his life over in Lubbock (though some people can coach as hard as they want and still look at a pile of L's), and they have the talent / experience to make a pretty strong season.

Overhyped I'm going to have to go with Kansas. I'm sorry, there's NO way I see them being a top-ten team to start the season. WITHOUT Selby eligible! By the end of the season, with Selby? Maybe. I'm not even sold then. The Jayhawks lost a lot of talent and depth, and this team's going to need to prove to me it can be more than just Marcus Morris and guys who were minor contributors last year.

As for deep tourney runs, I think K-State (experienced backcourt leads to good things), Missouri (talent plus 40 minutes of hell), and Baylor are poised for a solid finish. Baylor might be the shakiest since we don't know how Dunn will handle the point guard responsibilities (especially under pressure). But right now I'd give those teams as good a chance as about any to make the last weekends.

Do you have any reservations about your preseason predictions? Anything in particular you want to be able to take back in December?

EP: Until league play begins I'm sticking with my guns. I think a lot of my predictions relied on some inexperience coming through, namely in Perry Jones and Texas' Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. If those three can really play consistently at the Big 12 level, I am happy with my picks. The conference had four highly regarded freshman last season in Avery Bradley, Xavier Henry, Tommy Mason-Griffin and Tiny Gallon who didn't quite blow the doors off the league. We have seen freshman dominate in Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin, but even as NBA draft picks, last year's quartet didn't WOW us like previous rookies. I am banking on this year's crop (Jones in particular) to change games the way earlier freshman have.

JL: Not as of right now, I think I took the somewhat safe approach in not voting for Kansas State to win the Big 12 like a lot of people and going with Kansas. And I actually feel better about my pick of Oklahoma finishing last in the Big 12 seeing they were trailing Northern State, a D2 school, at half the other night.

MP: My two biggest concerns are that Kansas and Texas are going to shine. They're both super-talented, but I've seen them as very flawed as well. Either one could end up winning the conference if the teams mesh correctly. But I'll stick to my guns until at least December when I've seen them play some real teams.

SI ranked the Big 12 the second best conference in college basketball after the Big 10.  Where do you see the Big 12 as a whole this season?

EP: If Josh Selby and Tony Mitchell are granted eligibility, I will take the top half of the Big 12 over any conference in the nation. The conference might not have the best team in the nation, but the top half of it do beat down the top half of any other conference in the country. (The bottom half is a different story)

JL: Well I think the Big 10 is getting too much credit from people, I am not aware of what Illinois did last year to impress anyone, I don't even think they made the Tournament. I am probably being a homer but I think the Big 12 is the best basketball conference over the Big 10 and ACC. I think having four teams that are legitimate Final Four contenders in KU, KSU, Missouri & Baylor confirms that. I don't think another conference can claim four teams. I think getting a road win in the Big 12 will be hard everywhere this year except maybe Lincoln & Ames.

MP: I agree I'm not sold on Illinois. When I see them compete at a Elite Eight level (last year they couldn't even make the Dance), maybe I'll change my mind. But I have to give the Big 10 the nod on depth and sleep-induction, while I'd give the Big 12 best six. I think the Big East will be reloading (very comparable to the ACC), and the Pac-10 is going to be mediocre again (slightly better).

What are your thoughts about the first week of the NBA season (which players have you been most impressed with and what has surprised you)? I know there have been a few games that surprised me (like the Heat getting trounced in Boston and proceeding to dominate everyone else they've seen).

EP: Because college hoops hasn't begun, and because of a free preview of NBA League Pass, I watched a lot of NBA this past week (also because Denver Stiffs' Andrew Feinstein convinced me to join my first NBA Fantasy League). So from the first week I am most impressed with Rajon Rondo. That guy can straight ball. Holy smokes he's got like 100 assists already.

It's funny though when I watch the NBA. I watch to see how former recent college studs are doing, and a lot of times that doesn't translate into the best NBA product. I would rather watch the Memphis Grizzlies (because of Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, DeMarre Carroll and Mike Conley) than a team like the Heat where the players have been in the Association for longer, and have somewhat lost the college luster they had when they were fresh. I'd rather flip on the Clippers to watch Blake Griffin than the Lakers to see Kobe Bryant. I am just a nut like that.

JL: Well I watched Blake Griffin's first NBA game and dang he looked awesome, hope he stays healthy all year. Other than that game I haven't caught too much of it though. The Lakers look like they are going to be super tough, although Kevin Durant may be ready to put Oklahoma City on his back and continue to build his legacy there. I tend to check a lot of box scores to see how former Big 12 guys are doing, like I saw Bill Walker hasn't done much this season with the Knicks and Sherron Collins has gotten all DNP Coaches Decisions so far this year. Still pulling for Michael Beasley to turn it around with the T-Wolves this year.

MP: I'm actually rocking my first NBA fantasy team too, and I'm not going to lie: it's loaded with young guys I liked to watch in college (Griffin, Demarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry, Elton Brand, DeJuan Blair, and the Lopez twins to name a few). Griffin has been unbelievable (Wall is stepping up though). As far as Big 12 alums, I've been most impressed with Griffin, Durant, and Paul Pierce (who I keep expecting to get old, but he never does). I'm not a real NBA fan, but I'm not going to complain about more basketball.

 

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