Kansas is the Big 12 favorite nearly every season, and this year is no exception. Bill Self returns both of his starting guards, Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham, along with a top-10 recruiting class featuring No. 1 overall prospect Josh Jackson. The Jayhawks already took down No. 1 Duke on national television, and will likely roll into conference play as a top-five team.
2. West Virginia
The Mountaineers’ playing style is difficult to handle, along with their infamous full court press they unleash on opponents from the opening tip. West Virginia returns four starters along with several key bench players that will likely hold big roles in Coach Bob Huggins’ deep rotation.
Coach Shaka Smart lost all five starters from his 20-win campaign last season, but snagged the No. 2 recruiting class in the Big 12. The young Longhorns are talent-filled, with sophomore guards Eric Davis, Tevin Mack and Kerwin Roach along with some big name freshmen, including Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen.
Baylor shocked the college basketball world in the first week of the season with its takedown of No. 4 Oregon. The Bears return junior forward Johnathan Motley and bring in Manu Lecomte, the talented transfer from Miami.
5. Iowa State
The team doesn’t lack talent, as the Cyclones return senior Monte Morris as well as guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long. While the recruiting class wasn’t very strong, the key additions to the team come from transfers Darrell Bowie (Northern Illinois) and Merrill Holden (Louisiana Tech).
Coach Lon Kruger returns senior guard Jordan Woodard and junior forward Khadeem Lattin, who will take the reins of the team in the post-Buddy Hield era. Christian James also returns for the Sooners, who are talented enough to compete for the Big 12 title if they can play well on the road, something they struggled with last season.
7. Oklahoma State
Coach Brad Underwood begins his campaign as the Cowboys’ coach with an incredible track record. Underwood lost only 14 games in his three years at Stephen F. Austin, but he could lose that many in his first year in Stillwater. There is some potential for the Pokes, as sharpshooter Phil Forte III returns as a fifth-year senior, and guard Jawun Evans looks to be one of the most talented young players in the country. The Cowboys are young and talented, but Underwood’s squad will likely struggle in the stacked Big 12.
8. Kansas State
The Wildcats were pitiful last season, and this season doesn’t look very promising. Coach Bruce Webber lost four of his five starters from a team with no true go-to players. Although he returns senior forward Wesley Iwundu and sophomore guard Barry Brown, this could be a long season for the Wildcats.
9. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders made the tournament last season for the first time since 2007. However, Tubby Smith quickly jumped ship to take the coaching job at Memphis. On the bright side, Texas Tech lured assistant Chris Beard from UNLV just after he accepted the job. Beard will return his top two scorers, and will not likely be able to get the program where he wants it until he has some time to recruit.
TCU brings in Coach Jamie Brown from Pittsburgh in an attempt to revive the program. Since joining the Big 12, TCU has gone 8-64 in conference play. The Horned Frogs return talented junior Malique Trent, and bring in freshman Jaylen Fisher after flipping his commitment from UNLV. There is hope for the future at TCU, but this season will be a drag as usual for a small program in a talented conference.