Last season the Big 12 finished the season as the top ranked conference, as determined by both Real Time RPI and by Jeff Sagarin's Ratings.
However, according to Ken Pomeroy's Wednesday's blog posting, the conference is only returning 50.6% of offensive production and 55.4% of defensive stops.
The combined average of 53% of roster attrition ranks 28th out of the 32 conferences analyzed, leaving it last out of the "Big 6" BCS conferences.
As contrast, the conference with the highest attrition is the Big 10, who will see a total average of 69% of familiar faces returning (which is probably bad news for people hoping the conference can move away from the slow tempo style of play college basketball fans are accustomed to seeing from them).
Can the Big 12 rebound from such a huge loss in productivity?
Analysis after The Jump.
An NBA record seven Big 12ers were drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft (ten overall draft picks), so out the gate there is a ton of talent to replace. Some were one and doners, who we all knew would be gone after their frosh year: Avery Bradley and Xavier Henry. Add Ekpe Udoh to that list, who was a conference one and doner, and you lose a lot of talent the conference really didn't get to know.
Talent-wise, Baylor's Perry Jones and Kansas' Josh Selby should be able to replace the departed frosh. Missouri JUCO transfer Ricardo Ratliffe has the ability and hype to be a Udoh type of player.
Scoring-wise the conference lost its leading scorer in Oklahoma State's James Anderson plus Iowa State's Craig Brackins and Texas' Damion James. In terms of the conference scoring won't be a problem and two duos should light the league on fire. Between Colorado's Alec Burks and Cory Higgins and Texas Tech's Mike Singletary and John Roberson, the Buffs and Red Raiders wont have difficulties putting points on the board. And if legal issues get resolved, LaceDarius Dunn can ultimately become the conference's all-time leading scorer.
Where the conference will need to step up, if they want to attain the national level they were at in 2009-10 is under leadership.
With the departures of the heart of the Jayhawks in Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, and the defensive prowess of Missouri's JT Tiller and Zaire Taylor, the conference doesn't seem to have the leadership it had last season.
There are leaders in the conference, Missouri's Kim English, K-State's Jacob Pullen, whichever Morris twin I a thinking of just to name a few. Those guys will ignite and motivate their teams, but as a collective what the conference lost in leadership will be tough to replace.
Does leadership put points on the board, or wins in the standings? Not directly, but having that presence in the locker room and on the practice floor builds confidence in teams and propels them to stardom.
So, will the conference be a national powerhouse again? Yes. Will they finish the season as the top conference in the country? That all depends on if leaders emerge from each of the campuses in the conference.