The more things change, the more they stay the same. That saying can be applied to the Big 12, where in each of the last ten seasons the Kansas Jayhawks have won at least a share of the regular season title. Thursday the conference released its preseason poll and the coaches are of the belief that Bill Self’s team has the pieces needed to win the league again, as Kansas was their choice to finish first in the Big 12 albeit by a slim margin.
The Jayhawks received six of the ten possible first-place votes, with Texas receiving three and Oklahoma one. Kansas received a total of 78 points in the preseason poll, with Rick Barnes’ Longhorns coming in second with 74 points. Texas returns nearly every piece to its rotation from last season (Martez Walker being the lone personnel loss), and they add one of the top freshmen in the country in center Myles Turner.
Oklahoma (67 points) also returns many of its perimeter weapons, led by junior Buddy Hield, from last season’s NCAA tournament team. Lon Kruger will have to account for the loss of versatile forward Cameron Clark, but the Sooners are deep and if Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas receives a waiver that would allow him to play immediately his pairing up with Big 12 rebounding champion Ryan Spangler in the paint would make Oklahoma an even greater threat to win the Big 12.
If there were any surprises in the poll it’s that Iowa State (51 points) was picked to finish fifth, with Kansas State (53 points) just ahead of them in fourth. Fred Hoiberg welcomes back Georges Niang but lost guard DeAndre Kane and forward Melvin Ejim from last season’s Sweet 16 team. The Cyclones have been very successful with transfers during the Hoiberg era, with Bryce Dejean-Jones looking to add his name to that list in 2014-15, but by the looks of it the coaches seem to think that the personnel losses will be too much to overcome.
Following Iowa State in the poll are Baylor and West Virginia (36 points apiece), with those two teams tied for sixth in the preseason poll, and an Oklahoma State (27 points) team that lost both Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte III return to Stillwater, as does a forward in Michael Cobbins who missed most of the season after rupturing his Achilles in December. The Cowboys also add LSU transfer Anthony Hickey, who will start at the point for head coach Travis Ford.
Rounding out the poll are TCU (15 points) and Texas Tech (13 points).