This week we debate Mizzou, Baylor and Iowa State's ceilings, the best team in the Sooner state and whether KU fans should start to worry. Now, on to the questions...
1. Mizzou is playing inspired basketball. A lot of their success can be attributed to a senior-laden team who knows each other and doesn't have the "get to know you" period that a lot of schools go through at the beginning of a season. Will other teams catch up to the Missouri Tigers as the season progresses or should we expect them to remain this good throughout the season?
2. Perry Jones III returned to the Baylor Bears last night contributing 27 pts and six rebounds after serving a five game NCAA imposed suspension. With news that the NBA reached a collective bargaining agreement and the prevailing thought that both he and freshman Quincy Miller will declare for the 2012 NBA Draft, and the impeding graduation of Quincy Acy, is it this year or never for the Bears?
3. Fred Hoiberg's transfer experiment has led the Iowa St. Cyclones to a 5-1 record, with Royce White, Chris Allen and Chris Babb each leading the team in scoring two times apiece. Are you more confident, less confident or at about the same confidence level at this early stage of the season that this group of transfers can all mesh and become a force in Big 12 play?
4. The Oklahoma St. Cowboys (3-2) are on a two game losing streak, and barely squeaked by UTSA in overtime. The Oklahoma Sooners (4-1) are coming off an unexpected spot in the 76 Classic championship game. Who is the better team in the Sooner state?
5. The Kansas Jayhawks are 3-2 - their worst start since a 2-3 showing in 2005-06. With their two losses coming at the hands of Kentucky and Duke there's no reason to start to worry... or is there?
1. Mizzou is playing inspired basketball. A lot of their success can be attributed to a senior-laden team who knows each other and doesn't have the "get to know you" period that a lot of schools go through at the beginning of a season. Will other teams catch up to Mizzou as the season progresses or should we expect them to remain this good throughout the season?
Nathan Kotisso: I don't think we should go that far yet. Don't get me wrong: Mizzou drubbed a couple of good teams last week, but what makes a team great is how well they play on the road. The Tigers have played all of their games in the state of Missouri and until I see how they play outside of their own element, I can't say for sure they will remain on this hot streak.
Joe Loyd: I honestly wasn't as high on Missouri entering this year as it appears I should have been. Even though I don't think they will continue to beat ranked opponents like D2 schools all season long and have guys like Steve Moore banging in threes, I do think they will be a Top 10-15 team all year long. It is amazing to me how simply going away from the press all the time to a standard half court D has transformed this team it seems. I do have some worries for the Tigers though as toward the end of last season it appeared they had some chemistry issues so we'll see if that returns if a senior isn't getting his shots or whatever the case may be.
E. Carnes: I'm pretty high on Mizzou right now - I think we should expect them to remain this good or get better. The Tigers are having their own "get to know you" period with Frank Haith and they're still killing it. I'm interested to see them play Villanova in New York. They haven't had a true road game yet and Nova fans at MSG can get, let's say, "passionate." All in all, Mizzou is really making me wish they were sticking around the Big 12.
Evan Pfaff: Mizzou has strung together their best set of consecutive games since their Big 12 tournament championship and Elite Eight run in 2009. But to answer, I'm not sure if they can sustain this momentum. We first thought they'd be stymied by their size, but the Notre Dame 29-point victory squashed that idea, but now looking over Mizzou's Ws it's apparent they are winning by lighting the nets on fire. Kim English can't miss from three and the team as a whole is shooting 52% from the field, good for eighth nationally... but with all shooters, there will be games when the ball doesn't drop, and those will be the ones that Mizzou will lose.
2. Perry Jones III returned to the Baylor Bears last night contributing 27 pts and 6 rebounds after serving a five game NCAA imposed sanction. With news that the NBA reached a collective bargaining agreement and the prevailing thought that both he and freshman Quincy Miller will declare for the 2012 NBA Draft, and the impeding graduation of Quincy Acy, is it this year or never for the Bears?
NK: It probably is. I mean, they have skill at every position. Scott Drew has talent coming next year, but it's hard replacing arguably their three best players in Miller, Jones III and Acy. Can't forget about the impact that Anthony Jones has too when he graduates.
JL: Yes and no I would say. Yes in the fact that he gets a chance to have great success due to Jones coming back and adding another impact player in Miller along with a senior inside player in Acy. No in the fact that Scott Drew has once again got a 5 star commit for next season along with a 4 & 3 star as well. I think he has the program in a consistent position of at least competing in the upper half of the Big 12 for years to come.
EC: No doubt that Baylor has the perfect storm of returning players and top recruits this year. This is as good a shot as they have ever had. I worry a little about them not being tested in non-con play and about their turnover rate so far. But hey, Miller and Jones could always turn down a multimillion-dollar contract for a few more years in scenic, bustling... Waco, right?
EP: I think this is Baylor's best shot at a Final Four ever, and it might be their best shot for years to come. I understand that the team is comprised of more than Jones and the Quincys and with 7-footer Isaiah Austin coming in next year they should be able to replace the inside presence that will likely leave. But there is just so much talent in Waco this year that if they don't go deep in the NCAA tournament I will consider the season a loss. Unless you're a perennial powerhouse like Kentucky, UNC, Kansas or Duke, it's not often you have two top 10 recruits on the floor at the same time, so you MUST capitalize when you do.
3. Fred Hoiberg's transfer experiment has led Iowa State to a 5-1 record, with Royce White, Chris Allen and Chris Babb each leading the team in scoring two times apiece. Are you more confident, less confident or at about the same confidence level at this early stage of the season that this group of transfers can all mesh and become a force in Big 12 play?
NK: I feel the same if not more confident about the Cyclones. It is a different guy stepping up in wins and that's an important trait for a good team to have. Hoiberg better begin stressing how HUGE this week's Michigan game is if they don't want to be stressed on Selection Sunday.
JL: How about I will tell you Dec. 4th after they have played Michigan. I would be more confident in this team if they wouldn't have lost to Drake and all their wins have come against inferior competition.
EC: I'm definitely more confident than I was before the season began. The team seems to have meshed nicely so far and the more I see of Fred Hoiberg, the more I like him. I also like that the Cyclones aren't dependent on one key player or on a bunch of freshman. I think that'll be a big asset in conference play.
EP: I am optimistically more confident. Going into the season I thought they'd hover near the bottom of the conference but after seeing them and seeing how they spread the wealth I think they might finish higher than I had expected. I do remember feeling the same way last year, when they started 13-2, only to finish 16-16 overall, and looking over whom they have actually played, I see a lot of directional schools... so we'll see.
4. Oklahoma State (3-2) is on a two game losing streak, and barely squeaked by UTSA in overtime. Oklahoma (4-1) is coming off an unexpected spot in the 76 Classic championship game. Who is the better team in the Sooner state?
NK: Oklahoma State's played the tougher schedule and their record reflects that. Not that the NIT Tourney was super strong, but the 76 Classic Oklahoma played in was the weakest in recent memory. It's not by much but the Cowboys are the better squad overall.
JL: I still have to say in the long run the Cowboys but Le'Bryan Nash has to get more than 11 minutes of playing time a game like he did against Virginia Tech. Travis Ford had better hope his message got across to Nash since a really bad season would put Ford square on the hot seat.
EC: I'd give this one to Oklahoma State, courtesy of Le'Bryan Nash and Markel Brown. The Sooners did make it to the championship game - and then lost by 20 to St. Louis. The Cowboys also lost by about 20 to Stanford, but it was their first game since the tragic plane crash and they must still be pretty shaken.
EP: If the two teams played today on a neutral court, I'd have to give the edge to the Sooners (who would have thought that Romero Osby would be a leading candidate for conference newcomer of the year at this point?). OK State's youth just hasn't found a rhythm and Le'Bryan Nash hasn't found his sea legs yet, shooting just 34.7% from the field, 64% from the line and 16.7% from three. I do feel that Nash will come around and Cezar Guerrero will continue to improve and think that by the time the two teams face each other on January 9 that the Cowboys will prevail.
5. Kansas is 3-2 - their worst start since a 2-3 showing in 2005-06. With their two losses coming at the hands of Kentucky and Duke there's no reason to start to worry... or is there?
NK: Nah, they're good. You wonder why some coaches don't schedule top-flight competition in the non-conference portion like Bill Self does. They'll be ready for Big 12 play more than anybody.
JL: No reason to worry yet. This isn't as good of a Kansas team as in previous seasons but Bill Self will have the Jayhawks winning the league again I am sure.
EC: Heh, the only thing that worries me about Kansas is the prospect of my Longhorns facing them in conference play. In my book, losing respectably to two teams that could be national title contenders is worth just as much as handily beating a low- or mid-major team. Sure, the Jayhawks aren't the powerhouse team that they've been in years past, but they're still looking pretty dangerous.
EP: There's no reason to worry. Those two losses do two things to KU. (1) They act as building blocks so that the Jayhawks know what they need to improve upon come conference play. (2) They let the Jayhawks fly a little under the radar for the first time in a decade or so.