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Big 12 Hoops Conference Call

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Welcome to the first Big 12 Hoops Conference Call.  During this weekly segment, we will dissect the conference and weigh in on the hot topics.

Since practice begins this week, we'll start with a roll call of how we think the season will play out. After The Jump we discuss our choices for Player of the Year, regular season and tournament champ, underrated team and freshman of the year.

Feel free to add your opinions to the comments section.

1. All right, before we jump in let's get to the most important question first, how's your fantasy football team doing through 5 weeks?

Joe Loyd: Which one?  In my pro fantasy football league I am 4-1 and have a pretty good team. In my college league I am 4-2 but find it much harder to play since I didn't have a great amount of knowledge on a lot of players outside of the Big 12. In a weird way I find the college league to be more fun since now I have a reason to watch Indiana or Northwestern play without having to have money on the game.

Matt Patton: None of my friends are cool enough for fantasy.  Or maybe I'm just lazy.  But my fantasy teams would not be doing so hot, as my fandom single-handedly kills most things it touches (the Braves are our recent tragic hero). 

Evan Pfaff: 3-2. I made the fatal mistake of taking New York Jets Shonn Greene as my second RB, so needless to say my running game needs some help.

2. Speaking of fantasy, Joe back in July you wrote an article about drafting Alec Burks with the first pick in a Big 12 fantasy draft. LaceDarius Dunn was the reader's choice. As practice begins, who is your choice to win conference player of the year?

Joe: Well I think my choice has to be Jacob Pullen especially now that LaceDarius Dunn is out of the running. He may not be the best NBA prospect in the league but Pullen is a senior and he should have plenty of opportunities to put up stats this season. If Kansas State finishes either 1st or 2nd in the league standings he should be the favorite.

Matt: I'd probably put money on Pullen (senior, great team, coming off fantastic year, etc.), but for the sake of argument I'll take Alec Burks.  A freshman who averages 18 ppg, look out.  He and Cory Higgins will make a real duo this season over in Boulder.

Evan: Last year's conference POY was James Anderson, who excelled on a middle-of-the-road Oklahoma State team. In college hoops, I think that might be the secret ingredient to POY honors. If OK State had the talent KU had last year, Anderson might not have been spotlighted as heavily. Same holds true for Michael Beasley while at K-State. He was a great player on a middle-of-the-road team. So who is the great player on that type of team this season? I'll second Matt's nomination and say Alec Burks. (As an aside, national POY honors don't work necessarily the same way. You almost have to be the best player on the best team, or there abouts.)

3. Between the two freshman making national headlines, Perry Jones of Baylor and Josh Selby of Kansas, who will have the better year?

Joe: In my opinion, the obvious answer has to be Josh Selby assuming he gets cleared to play. He will have the ball in his hands almost all the time and will be playing on a highly ranked team and freshman guards tend to make a bigger impact. With Dunn being out there will be more pressure on Jones to produce but defenses can double down on him without fear of Dunn drilling 3 after 3.

Matt: I don't know...being a frosh point guard is tough.  I also like Baylor's offense with Jones.  Given, I don't know who will run that offense if Dunn isn't around, but Scott Drew has a knack for showcasing great athletes.  If the news of an NCAA investigation in Waco is true, I'll jump back to Selby faster than John Kerry.  Too much off-court drama never leads to great seasons.

Evan: Talent wise, Jones has all the tools. In high school he took plays off, though, which you can get away with when you're as talented as he is. In the Big 12 you can't or you get toasted. Should Selby qualify he will be Big 12 Frosh of the Year.

4. The press and coaches are bullish on K-State picking them first in the conference. Amongst the teams picked in the bottom half, who has the best chance to turn some heads this year?

Joe: For some reason I really think that Colorado is going to have a better year than people tend to think. They have 2 Wooden award candidates in Higgins & Burks and welcome back Shannon Sharpe this year to help at the PG slot. I also tend to think that there is going to be some addition by subtraction in Boulder with Jeff Bzdelik leaving to go to Wake Forest.

Matt: Gotta agree with Joe here.  If Colorado can adjust to their new coach, they could be a very tough team to beat this season.  By the end of the year, they have the talent to be a top-25 team.  I have them as my conference sleeper for sure.  They may not win the conference, but I'd be shocked if they finished the season without a few upsets and a ticket to the Big Dance.

Evan: If you had Colorado with the Trifecta, cash in your tickets. Bzdelik ran a methodical, slow tempo offense. The Buffs are too talented to run that type of offense, and if they open it up they will finish nowhere near the 9th place the coaches tabbed them to fininsh.

5. And finally who finishes the regular season with the best record in conference? Who wins the tournament?

Joe: If I had to pick a winner right now for regular season champ I would say the Kansas Jayhawks simply because they have won it six years in a row and return quite a few players from last seasons squad. It will be interesting to see how Kansas State reacts to being the favorite this season though. Which tournament we talking about? The conference tourney or the winner take all tourney?? Conference tourney I would just throw a dart and say Missouri since they have won it here recently and the Tigers might be playing to raise their NCAA tourney seed. For the NCAA tourney I will go against the Big 12 and take Purdue, no real strong feelings on that pick though.

Matt: I'm not liking Kansas.  They lost too much.  I don't really know why they're getting picked second in the conference--especially with Selby waiting to be cleared.  For conference champion, I'm taking Kansas State.  Behind Jacob Pullen and an athletic frontcourt, I think they'll be the best team out there most nights, with the experience to win day in and day out.  IF Dunn is back AND Baylor is free of NCAA drama I like the Bears in the conference tournament.  If not (on either) I think it's a toss-up.  Missouri is a great choice; Kim English only gets better, and 40 minutes of hell always gives them a shot.  As for the Dance, I like Duke to repeat (Purdue finishing a close second, with Kansas State coming in a more distant third).  I like the Blue Devils' backcourt (though I'm a little biased), Purdue's experience, and Kansas State's chemistry.

Evan: Lots to agree with. I am bearish on KU, but keep in mind second place in conference would be a dissapointing season with the way the Jayhawks have rolled through the conference in recent years. I think sanction-free, Dunn-heavy Baylor should win the conference. They just have an easier run. KU, K-State and Mizzou all have 4 games amongst themselves, plus two each vs CU. Baylor just has an easier road, with Texas being the only real challange they have to play twice. As for the tournament, I think that if Mizzou finishes in the top 4 of the conference and has that first round bye then they are the team to beat.  It is just so tough to play against that offense a day after a hard fought Big 12 tourney game. As for the NCAAs, I'll go with Michigan State (really just to be different).