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Big 12 Primed for Unforgettable Season

Reigning National Champion Baylor Among Elite Teams in Conference

The college basketball odds does not have defending national champion Baylor as the favorite to win the Big 12 Conference title. Kansas and Texas both came in ahead of the Bears in the Big 12 preseason poll.

Texas Tech and West Virginia are other teams figuring to be in contention for what should be another season to remember for the Big 12.

Big 12 seems primed for another unforgettable season
Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten have often claimed that they are the nation’s best men’s basketball conference. However, with Baylor winning it all earlier this year and Texas Tech reaching the national championship game in 2019, the Big 12 is the conference that has bragging rights these days.

Kansas Jayhawks

Conference Odds: +150

National Title Odds: +1400

The Kansas Jayhawks had an impressive nucleus to build on thanks to four returning starters that make them one of the top championship contenders to those who bet sports online.

The Jayhawks (+150) are the pick to win the Big 12 just edging out Texas.

Ochai Agbaji, a first-team All-Big 12 preseason selection, returns after leading the Jayhawks in scoring with an average of 14.1 points per game. Fellow starters David McCormack, Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun combined to start but three games during the Jayhawks’ 21-9 season.

Kansas will be without Wilson a preseason All-Big-12 forward, for the first three games of the season after his arrest for driving under the influence.

However, add in three-time All-Pac 12 guard Remy Martin who transferred in from Arizona State, and it is easy to see why there is so much buzz around this Kansas team. Martin was named the Big 12’s preseason player of the year.

Joseph Yesufu is another talented transfer who had seven 20-point games in the final nine games he played at Drake.

A talented freshman class will add depth with Bobby Pettiford, KJ Adams Jr., and Zach Clemence combining to play 44 minutes in Kansas’ exhibition game.

Texas Longhorns

Conference Odds: +200

National Title Odds: +1400

The arrival of former Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard is not the only difference with the Texas Longhorns. Beard has brought in seven transfers. Timmy Allen (Utah), Marcus Carr (Minnesota), Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt), Christian Bishop (Creighton) and Tre Mitchell (UMass) averaged at least 11 points per game at other Division I programs during the 2020-21 season while Devin Askew was a highly touted recruit who left Kentucky after his freshman season.

Not all the players are coming in from elsewhere. Returnees Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey averaged 14.6 and 12.2 points, respectively, for the Longhorns a season ago.

Baylor Bears

Conference Odds: +425

National Title Odds: +2500

Baylor will need to replace Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler, who were selected with picks Nos. 9 and 40 in the 2021 NBA Draft. MaCio Teague, another double-digit scorer, as well as leading rebounder Mark Vital are also gone from Baylor’s national championship team.

Flo Thamba is the lone returning starter. However, Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua were key contributors off the bench. Their roles and minutes should increase. Baylor also added former Georgetown and Arizona guard James Akinjo.

Baylor beat Gonzaga to win it all in, but Gonzaga holds down the top spot in the odds to win March Madness.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Conference Odds: +800

National Title Odds: +4000

Texas Tech Red Raiders didn’t have to look far for their new coach after Chris Beard accepted the gig at Texas. Former assistant coach Mark Adams was promoted to the head job. He didn’t have until the season starts for his first challenge. Top returning scorer Terrence Shannon Jr. is being held out until further notice while the NCAA clears Shannon to make sure his eligibility wasn’t compromised when he went through the NBA Draft process.

Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva join Shannon as returning starters. The Red Raiders visited the transfer portal to reshape its roster. Former Oral Roberts forward Kevin Obanor, who had three double-doubles in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. He is joined by Davion Warren, who averaged 21 points as a senior at Hampton, and Bryson Williams, who averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds at UTEP, lead the list of transfers set to suit up at Texas Tech. Former Winthrop guard Adonis Arms and Louisiana’s Mylik Wilson are other transfers who were double-digit scorers at their former schools.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Conference Odds: +1400

National Title Odds: +6600

The biggest news coming out of the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ camp has been the NCAA denying Oklahoma State’s appeal of a one-year postseason ban as a result of the actions of former associate head coach Lamont Evans.

With that news, it is somewhat surprising that the Las Vegas odds list the Cowboys on the list of championship contenders.

Oklahoma State is coming off a 21-9 season. While it won’t be easy to replace top scorer Cade Cunningham, who was selected first overall in the NBA Draft, the Cowboys do return seven of its top eight scorers with Avery Anderson, Kalib Boone, Isaac Likekele, Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe and Bryce Williams starting a combined 100 games during the 2020-21 season.

Memphis transfer Moussa Cisse will provide a shot-blocking presence and Kansas transfer Bryce Thompson is also expected to play a key role.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Conference Odds: +1600

National Title Odds: +4000

When the West Virginia Mountaineers played Akron in a charity exhibition game, all five starters were members of the 2020-21 squad so it is surprising that the scores and odds do not list them near the top of the Big 12 championship contenders.

Taz Sherman, the top returning scorer, had 29 points in an exhibition game against Akron. Jalen Bridges, Isaiah Cottrell, Sean McNeil and Kedrian Johnson also started. Freshman Kobe Johnson joined transfers Dimon Carrigan (FIU) and Malik Curry (Old Dominion’s leader in scoring, assists and steals) as top reserves.

The biggest issue for West Virginia is to replace top scorer and assists leader Miles McBride, who was a second-round pick by the New York Knicks.

Oklahoma Sooners

Conference Odds: +3300

National Title Odds: +6600

Former Eastern Washington star Tanner Groves and Duke transfer Jordan Goldwire are among the new faces for Porter Moser, who enjoyed so much postseason success at Loyola and takes over the Oklahoma Sooners’ program.

Speaking of transfers, Umoja Gibson and Elijah Harkless should be more at ease in their second season at Oklahoma after joining the program as transfers. C.J. Noland could make an impact as a freshman.

Texas Christian Horned Frogs

Conference Odds: +6600

National Title Odds: N/A

The Texas Christian Horned Frogs are looking to bounce back from a difficult 12-14 season, including a 5-11 mark in Big 12 play.

Mike Miles returns after leading the team in three-pointers and ranking second in both scoring and assists. Charles O’Bannon figures to have a larger role after playing just 18 minutes per game a season ago.

Micah Peavy (Texas Tech), Xavier Cork (Western Carolina), Shahada Wells (UT Arlington) and Maxwell Evans (Vanderbilt) are among the transfers who could play significant roles.

Iowa State

Conference Odds: +12500

National Title Odds: N/A

The Iowa State Cyclones added six transfers who have combined to play 415 games, which is key since Iowa State has less than 15 percent of its scoring returning for head coach T.J. Otzelberger’s first season with the Cyclones.

The Cyclones have four Power-5 Conference transfers, which is tied for the most nationally. Izaiah Brockington (Penn State), Jaz Kunc (Washington State), Gabe Kalscheur (Minnesota) and Tristan Enaruna (Kansas) look to add some offensive punch for Iowa State.

Kansas State Wildcats

Conference Odds: +12500

National Title Odds: N/A

The Kansas State Wildcats are building around a solid sophomore class. Four of the eight players to get on the court for more than 15 minutes in Kansas State’s exhibition game were sophomores. Nijek Pack, the Wildcats’ leading scorer last season, leads the sophomore class. Add in freshman Logan Landers and there could continue to be some growing pains coming off a 9-20 season.

 

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