Where I Come From: Top 10 Big XII (Preseason) Basketball Rankings

This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.

Thanks to conference expansion (who would have believed it could be mentioned in a positive light), a top ten Big XII piece can be all-inclusive.  No more worrying about whether Corn Huskers will field a basketball team or about the possible jet lag from the MST (not to mention the altitude and cold weather).  Husking corn clearly was too dull to fit in with the cyclones and ferocious beasts of the bigger conference, so I think Nebraska will be welcomed by the badgers and gophers in their new home.  Truthfully, the buffaloes probably just spooked.  So now, let me present that 2010-2011 Big XII Preseason Top 10.

10. Oklahoma Sooners
9.  Iowa State Cyclones
8.  Oklahoma State Cowboys
7.  Texas A&M Aggies
6.  Texas Longhorns
5.  Texas Tech Red Raiders
4.  Missouri Tigers
3.  Kansas Jayhawks
2.  Baylor Bears
1.  Kansas State Wildcats

Explanations after the jump.

10. Oklahoma Sooners

Unfortunately, there hasn't been much good news for the Sooners in recent memory.  The loaded class of 2007 has been washed away.  The NCAA is investigating allegations (that appear to be far more than just allegations) that Tiny Gallon took money from an agent.  All Oklahoma can hope to do next season is stop the bleeding.  They've taken some lumps, and they need to move forward.  Key word: rebuild.

9. Iowa State Cyclones

The Cyclones two biggest moves this offseason have been the loss of Craig Brackins to the NBA draft, and the hiring of former star Fred Hoiberg.  Losing Brackins definitely hurts in the short run, as he was their most talented player.  The hiring of Hoiberg, a man so popular in Ames he was written in as a candidate for Mayor, is a gutsy move.  He'll certainly have the locals on his side, but he is unproven as a coach.  It'll take some time for him to settle in.

8. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Losing the Big XII Player of the Year, James Anderson, will definitely hurt Oklahoma State.  Some people also forget that the Cowboys lost second-leading scorer Obi Muonelo from their backcourt as well.  They are going to need to replace those 35 points a game to contend next year, and I'm predicting a lackluster year.

7. Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies had a solid season last year, but they lose their top three scorers.  They bring in two four-star recruits that should shore up their frontcourt significantly, and I'm expecting BJ Holmes to really step up for his senior year.  It won't be enough to get them in the top half of the conference, but they'll remain respectable and be a tough team to beat down the stretch.

6. Texas Longhorns

Like most years, the Longhorns should be really talented.  Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson are both incoming, five-star recruits who should be instant impact players.  I'm also expecting J'Covan Brown and Jordan Hamilton to really step up next season.  Unfortunately, I see the Longhorns again falling short of their high potential.  I think they're too young to get there.  However, if they can keep this team together for another year, they could be one of the top teams in the country.  Frankly, until Rick Barnes proves this group should win, I might as well put them as last.

5. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech is my sleeper pick.  They had a rough season, finishing 9th in the conference, only winning four games in the process.  That said, I think Mike Singletary should be one of the best players in the Big XII next season.  Behind his and John Roberson's leadership, the Red Raiders should be significantly better next season.  They'll need their other players to really step up, but I think they'll definitely find themselves dancing come March.  All that said, I still question Pat Knight's ability to coach, and I think they would need to really overachieve to get this high by the end of the season.  They just as well could end up between Iowa State and Oklahoma if they're not careful.

4. Missouri Tigers

They lose JT Tiller, Zaire Taylor, and Keith Ramsey (who all played significant minutes last season), but I wouldn't sleep on Kim English.  Not only is English an awesome last name, but I fully expect him to have a breakout season for his junior year (which is saying something, as he averaged almost fifteen points a game).  He should be a major contributor, not to mention they have the 14th ranked recruiting class according to ESPN (higher than everyone in the Big 12 other than Texas).  Now that the little we know, I think, that Tony Mitchell will be able to play next year, I'm confident the Tigers will finish towards the top of the conference.  And 40 minutes of hell is never without it's fair share of surprises.

3. Kansas Jayhawks

I have an impression that a lot of people are expecting Kansas to drop off the face of the earth next season.  Maybe they didn't live up to last season's potential; maybe they did have a big ticket scalping scandal; and maybe they did lose three starters to the NBA (not picking Sherron Collins is a joke, by the way...whoever ends up with him is going to be getting a great deal).  I just don't know why.  They have two possible breakout players: the proven Marcus Morris should be a force in the frontcourt and Josh Selby just might be the best freshman in the nation.  While I think, Harrison Barnes is better, Selby should be a great player (even if he only stays a year).  All said and done, I think the Jayhawks should be a very good team next season, and they have the potential to be more than that depending on who steps up for them.

2. Baylor Bears

Baylor vaulted to the national stage last season, culminating in an impressive Elite Eight NCAA tournament run.  While they lose Ekpe Udoh and Tweety Carter, there are a few reasons they should be as good as they were last season (if not better).  The most important is Perry Jones.  He may not be the most polished recruit out of high school, but he's as good a guess as any to go first in the 2011 NBA Draft.  He's an incredible athlete that should play at an elite level immediately next season.  Combine him with a developing Quincy Acy, and the Baylor frontcourt starts looking strong.  The Bears' backcourt is held down by LaceDarius Dunn, who has to prove he can facilitate their offense next year.  It will also be interesting to see how his personal play is affected by having to play primary ball handler (personally, I see his stats rising, because I felt like he disappeared last season when he wasn't given the ball enough).  This should be a great team, and they have a great shot at the Final Four.

1. Kansas State Wildcats

Frank Martin's Kansas State team should be a title contender from the get go.  Many writers draw the "top tier" at their consensus top three (Duke, Michigan State, and Purdue), but I think you have to include Kansas State.  Losing Wally Judge (ED NOTE: don't worry Wildcat fans, Dominique Sutton is transferring not Judge. You may now put down your revolvers) to transfer and Denis Clemente to graduation definitely hurts, but this team was on the brink of greatness last season, and I really expect the frontcourt to step up next season.  I also think people have largely ignored Xavier's effect on the Wildcats' NCAA ending performance against Butler.  They had just played a 2OT monster two nights before!  It's a miracle they got shots to the rim at all with the outrageous minutes their starters played down the stretch.  Under the leadership of likely preseason All-American, Jacob Pullen, look for the Wildcats to be in the hunt down to the last weekend.    

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