Article Credit: Rob Carolla
Irving, Texas – For the fifth consecutive year, Kansas is the preseason choice to win the Big 12 men’s basketball regular season championship. The Jayhawks were a unanimous selection and are the favorite for the 15th time in conference history overall.
KU will have four of its top six scorers back from a squad that posted its 11th straight campaign with 25 or more victories. Leading the way are guards Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, who were recently named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. The Jayhawks also welcome freshman Josh Jackson, touted by several outlets as the No. 1 recruit in the nation. As a senior at Prolific Prep, he averaged 26.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 2015-16.
West Virginia, which fell to KU in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship title game a year ago, was picked second. The Mountaineers are coming off the 30th season with 20 wins or more in school history and bring back three of their top five scorers. Texas, entering its second campaign under head coach Shaka Smart, is picked third, followed by Iowa State at No. 4. The Cyclones will be led by Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Monté Morris.
Baylor and Oklahoma were next at fifth and sixth. The Bears have recorded at least 22 wins each of the past five campaigns, while OU advanced to its fifth Final Four last season. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were tied for seventh, followed by Kansas State and TCU rounding out the preseason rankings.
Last season, the team picked 10th (Texas Tech) earned a NCAA bid. In addition, since the Big 12 began competing as a 10-team league in 2011-12, four squads picked eighth (in five years) heard their name called on Selection Sunday.
The Big 12 has been the No. 1 conference in the nation in the RPI for three straight seasons and boasted the nation’s best non-conference winning percentage in 2015-16.
The Big 12 will tip off the 2016-17 campaign with its annual media day, slated for Tuesday, October 25 at Sprint Center in Kansas City – site of the 2017 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship. Live coverage will be available at Big12Sports.com.
2016-17 BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Team (First-place votes) Points
1. Kansas (9)* 81
2. West Virginia 65
3. Texas 59
4. Iowa State 56
5. Baylor 53
6. Oklahoma 40
7. Oklahoma State 32
Texas Tech 32
9. Kansas State 20
10. TCU 12
* – Unanimous Selection
Nine points were awarded for first place, eight for second, etc.
Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own team.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS