Bill Self

Bill Self says Oklahoma State has best roster in the Big 12

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That’ll be a fun matchup to watch when conference play starts next year.

Kansas for nine straight years has either won or at least shared the Big 12 regular season title. The Jayhawks have constantly reloaded and continued its success for a decade until Bill Self, but Self can see down the going into next season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys could knock Kansas off its place at the top of the Big 12.

“I don’t know who everybody returns, but based on their roster, no question Oklahoma State would have the best roster returning,” Self told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal World at a fundraiser on Thursday.

Earlier this week, freshman guard Marcus Smart — a projected top-5 pick — would return to OSU for a sophomore season, making the Cowboys not only a strong contender, but the favorite in the Big 12.

“They’ll be preseason top-5, -10 team for sure,” Self added. “It’ll be good for our league, not a bad thing at all for our league. No question going into the summer they have the best roster. There’s also some schools not finished recruiting yet. We’ll see how it plays out.”

Smart returns along with LeBryan Nash, Markel Brown and Phil Forte, the team’s top four scorers, all of which averaged double figures in 2012-2013.

While OSU brings back some familiar faces, Kansas reloads with a five-person class that Rivals considered second best only to Kentucky’s heralded 2013 incoming group. Kansas’ class is headlined by guards Conner Frankamp and Wayne Selden, along with small forward Brannen Green and center  Joel Embiid. The class could also get better if KU lands Andrew Wiggins.

Those freshman will need to play a big role, especially with a team losing Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey. Perry Ellis (5.8 minutes per game), Naadir Tharpe (5.5 minutes per game) return for the Jayhawks.

Smart is taking a lot of heat for not going for the riches of the NBA. He’ll return as one of the nation’s top players in 2013-2014, and could prove those critics wrong in his sophomore campaign.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.