Point/Counterpoint: Will Kansas win it 14th consecutive conference title?

Point: Jayhawks will surpass foes again

By Hayden Bonine

Sports Blogger

@Hayden Bonine

(O’Colly File Photo)

The University of Kansas is home to one of the most prestigious collegiate basketball programs in the world. The Jayhawks are second all-time in wins for a college basketball program. They are winners of 13-straight Big 12 conference regular season titles and 15 of the last 16. Last season, Kansas finished with a 31-5 record and advanced to the Elite Eight in the Men’s NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament. This season, the Jayhawks have one of the top guards in the nation, senior Devonte’ Graham. Graham put up 13.4 points, 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 38.8 percent from three. Those numbers may not seem eye-popping, but Graham was playing alongside Frank Mason III, who won the Naismith and Wooden Awards. Graham should have no trouble competing for the same player of the year honors. A host of talent joins him: sharpshooter Svi Mykhailiuk, 7-footer Udoka Azubuike, Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman,  electric guard Lagerald Vick and a pair of top-tier freshmen Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett. After looking at Kansas individually, one can begin to look at the conference as a whole and cross names off the list one by one. Kansas has an opportunity to break the record for consecutive conference titles, as it could surpass UCLA’s 13-year streak. These Jayhawks will be in a similar spot as the ones before them; hoisting the Big 12 trophy and holding a top one or two seed heading into March and all of its madness.

Counterpoint: Kansas will not win the Big 12

By Darnell Pointer

Sports Blogger

@theozoneonline

Kansas will not win the Big 12 this year because of one reason, the conference is getting better. Last year, eight of the Big 12’s 10 schools finished with a winning record, and six schools made the NCAA tournament. TCU won the NIT tournament defeating an ACC team in Georgia Tech. Also, the Jayhawks had the fourth-best recruiting class in the Big 12, signing only one five-star recruit and one four-star recruit.

Its first line of opposition will come from the Baylor Bears, who finished second in the Big 12 last season. Returning for the Bears is their second leading scorer, Manu Lecomte, who averaged 13 points per game. Baylor took a major blow when Jonathan Motley decided to enter the draft. But to help the Big 12’s No. 1 defense, Baylor added four-star recruit Tristan Clark and three-star recruit Leonard Allen.

Another team they need to look out for is Bob Huggins’ West Virginia team. Returning for the Mountaineers are Esa Ahmad and Jevon Carter. Carter, who averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game, is projected to be in the running for Big 12 player of the year. Carter also led the conference in steals with three a game because of Huggins’ signature full-court press defense. West Virginia added four three-star recruits to help it make another run to NCAA tournament.

Kansas will not be able to replace the offensive powers of Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson, who left for the NBA. The Jayhawks failed to get Trae Young, Oklahoma’s top recruit, to commit to them. Young signed with the Sooners. With them missing out on Young, Devonte’ Graham will likely have to carry his team by himself. If you are betting on Kansas to win the Big 12, you are about to lose some money because the Big 12 has become a stacked basketball conference where anyone can win.

ozone@ocolly.com

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