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Holiday Wish Lists: What are the nation’s best teams in need of adding this holiday season?

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Over the course of the next three days, we at College Basketball Talk will be cruising through a list of college basketball’s best teams, attempting to figure out who or what they need to add.

Put another way, with the holidays right around the corner, if your favorite team was able to ask for one thing as a gift, what would it be?

Do they need to add a point guard?

Is there enough big man depth on the roster?

Can they shoot?

Can they guard?

Today, we’ll roll through everyone from Maryland to Seton Hall.

Let’s get into it.

MORE: Alabama-Louisville | Syracuse-Xavier
FUTURES: Alabama-Louisville | Maryland-Seton Hall | Syracuse-Xavier

MARYLAND: Fewer turnovers

Can’t suggest the use of Stickum on the level that NFL great Fred Biletnikoff reached during his playing days, but the Terps really have to get this turnover issue under control. The Terps are turning the ball over on nearly 24 percent of their possessions thus far, and while talented Maryland is not in a position where it can essentially throw away nearly a quarter of its possessions. Anthony Cowan Jr., Darryl Morsell and Kevin Huerter do the majority of the ball-handling, and Mark Turgeon needs all three to take a step forward when it comes to valuing the basketball. In a Big Ten that projects to be tight in the middle of the standings, that could be the difference between emerging from that group in good shape or being a bubble team. (Raphielle Johnson)

MIAMI: Someone that can make a free throw

Miami is 349th nationally if free throw percentage, which is a stat that shocked me when I saw it. The Hurricanes have talented guards up and down their roster, but their best free throw shoooter is starting center Dewan Huell at 67 percent? The Hurricanes are also 323rd in free throw rate, meaning that not only do they miss free throws when they actually get to the free throw line, but there aren’t 30 teams that get to the line less often than they do. There are only two teams that get a smaller percentage of their points from the free throw line than Miami does – Army and Kansas – but the Hurricanes don’t rely on the three-ball like those teams do. This is something to keep an eye on. (Rob Dauster)

Bruce Brown Jr. (Eric Espada/Getty Images)

MICHIGAN: Point guard clarity

Michigan currently has three point guards – sophomore Zavier Simpson, freshman Eli Brooks and grad transfers Jaaron Simmons – and none of them have been good enough to take over the role full time. That’s a major problem for the Wolverines considering how important the lead-guard spot is to Michigan’s offense under John Beilein. (RD)

MICHIGAN STATE: More three-point shooting

Tom Izzo and his Spartans are off to a great start but they wish for more three-point shooting help for Cassius Winston. The sophomore point guard has shot a ridiculous 57 percent from distance to start the season but Michigan State only sits at 39 percent as a team. Others like Josh Langford and Miles Bridges have been steady so far. Then there are others like Matt McQuaid and Jaren Jackson Jr. who need to pick it up when it comes to perimeter efficiency. (Scott Phillips)

MINNESOTA: Swag

Getting its swagger back is on top of the Minnesota holiday wish list. Since nearly blowing a game against Alabama when the Crimson Tide only had three players, the Golden Gophers have dropped three of their last five games, and one of those wins was only by one point against a mediocre Missouri Valley team in Drake. Minnesota went from looking like a Big Ten title contender to now being a major question in a down year for the league. Minnesota can regain confidence and be among the league’s best. But this recent slide has been troubling. (SP)

NEVADA: Improved communication

The Wolf Pack had two opportunities for quality wins slip from their grasp earlier this month, as an overtime loss at Texas Tech was followed by a loss to TCU in Los Angeles. Eric Musselman’s squad followed that up with a win over Radford, with the head coach noting afterward that his team needs to get better at communicating with each other. Given the number of new faces on the court one could argue that such an issue is to be expected, but that can lead to mistakes that can be avoided on both ends of the floor. If Nevada is to repeat in a Mountain West that appears to have improved at the top, they’ll need to address this in the games leading up to the start of conference play. (RJ)

NORTH CAROLINA: A freshman big to fast forward three seasons

I’m more bullish on North Carolina now than I ever thought I would be on them this season. Luke Maye has been nothing short of sensational, Kenny Williams has improved and Joel Berry II is Joel Berry II. But the thing this group is missing is a big, physical low-post presence. Roy Williams’ best teams completely dominate the glass on both ends of the floor and have a hoss on the block they can dump the ball down into. They have a couple of freshman this year that look like they could end up being that player is two or three years. So what Roy Williams needs is a time machine, something that can make Sterling Manley or Garrison Brooks a senior instead of a freshman. (RD)

Luke Maye (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

NORTHWESTERN: Their home

The Wildcats wish the Welsh-Ryan Arena renovations were already finished so they could return to playing home games on campus. Experiencing an early-season lull that includes losses to Creighton, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech and Purdue, the Wildcats could really use the pick-me-up of enthusiastic home crowds during Big Ten play. Instead, this team has to settle for playing near O’Hare at the old and dumpy Allstate Arena, where the crowds for Northwestern basketball haven’t translated from last season. (SP)

NOTRE DAME: Bonzie’s perimeter shooting

The return of Bonzie Colson’s perimeter jumper is something that Notre Dame has high atop its wishlist. The senior All-American candidate is once again throwing up unique double-doubles and wrecking opponents on most nights. But Colson’s versatility has also been hindered by a cold-shooting start to the season as he only sits at 29 percent from three-point range. Part of the drop in Colson’s three-point percentage can be equated to uptick in attempts, but Colson has to be able to knock more of them down to keep opposing defenders honest. If Colson finds his perimeter touch, Notre Dame’s offense can become really scary. (SP)

OKLAHOMA: Balance, balance, balance

Lon Kruger would really like more than one season with Trae Young, but not even Santa Claus could deliver that given how dominant the freshman point guard has been. Instead, Kruger is likely asking for consistency from his supporting cast. The Sooners are relying heavily on Young, and he’s awesome, but balance will help on the nights where he doesn’t have it. If that happens, something unexpectedly special could be going down in Norman. (Travis Hines)

OREGON: More trips to the foul line

For the number of offensive options that this team has, they’ve had a tough time getting to the foul line thus far. As a team Oregon has a free throw rate that ranked 228th in the country, which can happen when a team’s top two scorers — in this case Payton Pritchard and Elijah Brown — tend to do more of their scoring by way of the jump shot as opposed to attacking defenses off the dribble. Troy Brown can help in this area given his versatility, and his continued growth (and resulting assertiveness, hopefully) could help Oregon contend in the Pac-12. (RJ)

PURDUE: Michigan State to tank

Purdue is wishing for some Michigan State slip ups in Big Ten play. While the Spartans have been the clear class of the Big Ten early this season, Purdue can easily make the case for being second best in the conference after a seven-game winning streak. Armed with a favorable conference schedule, the Boilermakers only play the Spartans one time and they already earned a road win at Maryland. Purdue doesn’t have to play Northwestern again after already beating them. With that schedule, and an experienced roster, Purdue is hoping to stay involved in the conference title race. (SP)

RHODE ISLAND: Health

The win over the College of Charleston was a struggle for the Rams, but in addition to the win there was some other good news for Dan Hurley’s team: E.C. Matthews was back on the court. Out since the loss to Nevada with a broken wrist, the return of Matthews is a big deal for a team that’s struggled with injuries for much of non-conference play. Cyril Langevine was slowed by a sports hernia, but his play in that win bodes well for the Rams moving forward. So simply put, URI just needs to stay healthy moving forward. With all hands on deck, this is a group that at minimum should make a return trip to the NCAA tournament. (RJ)

Jared Terrell (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

SAINT MARY’S: Defense

The Gaels have been one of the best offensive teams in the country thus far, ranking third in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. With the likes of Jock Landale and Emmett Naar on the court, producing on that end of the floor won’t be an issue for Randy Bennett’s team. What has been an issue is the defense, with opponents boasting an effective field goal percentage of 52.6 percent. What would help Saint Mary’s would be an improvement in keeping teams out of the paint, with opponents attempting nearly 34 percent of their shots at the rim according to Hoop-Math. To make a run at Gonzaga in the WCC as many expected in the preseason, Saint Mary’s has to improve defensively. (RJ)

SETON HALL: A pure point guard

It doesn’t even have to be a good one. They just need someone on the roster who is at his best initiating offense, getting into the lane and making people around him better, because they loaded that Khadeen Carrington is being asked to carry does not allow him to be his best self. Last year, playing off the ball, Carrington averaged 17.1 points and shot 42.4 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from three. This year, as a lead guard, he’s averaging 11.7 points and shooting 36.7 percent from the floor and 21.6 percent from three. Someone to take the pressure off him – or hell, maybe even someone to simply get him some open looks so he can snap out of this slump – would go a long way towards making the Pirates the top 15 team they should be. (RD)

Jessie Govan returning to Georgetown for senior season

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Jessie Govan is returning to Georgetown.

The 6-foot-10 center who averaged a double-double last season will withdraw from the NBA draft to play his senior season with the Hoyas, according to multiple reports.

Govan’s return to D.C. is a huge development for the Hoyas. As a junior, Govan averaged 17.9 points and 10 rebounds per game. He shot 50.8 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from distance. He went from a nice contributor as a sophomore to a breakout star last season for first-year coach Patrick Ewing.

Without Govan, the Georgetown frontcourt would have been very young and unproven. Now Ewing gets back a major impact player who will not only help the Hoyas compete in 2018-19, but bridge the gap to NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven’s eligibility in 2019.

The Hoyas were surprisingly competitive in Ewing’s first year back at his alma mater, and now has a chance to see an even bigger uptick this season with its anchor in the middle back in the fold.

Mizzou settles lawsuit brought by South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley

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An ugly episode has reached its conclusion with the University of Missouri paying $50,000 and its athletic director apologizing to South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Mizzou will donate $25,000 to Staley’s charity foundation and the other $25,000 going to her attorneys after she filed a defamation lawsuit stemming from an incident last winter when Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk claimed she “promoted that kind of atmosphere” after he alleged that Missouri players were called racial epithets and spit on after a game at South Carolina in January.

“Following a very spirited and intense game I attended in late January between the nationally ranked Missouri and South Carolina women’s basketball teams, I made comments in a local radio interview that were construed to suggest that Coach Staley promoted the negative experiences of racial epithets and spitting,” Sterk said in a statement Missouri released Thursday.

“I do not believe Coach Staley would promote such conduct, and I sincerely apologize to her for those comments.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in February, stemmed from an incident after a Missouri player claimed she had been spit after a loss in Columbia in January.

“We had players spit on and called the ‘N’ word and things like that,” Sterk said on Jan. 30, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I mean it was not a good environment and unfortunately and I think Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere. And it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”

With Thursday’s announced settlement, both parties are looking to put the incident in the past.

“I accept his apology and I appreciate the contribution of $25,000 to INNERSOLE, a not for profit organization I co-founded that provides new sneakers to children who are homeless or in need,” Staley said in a statement. “I’m glad we can share in support of this worthy cause and I look forward to moving past this with a continued spirited but positive competition amongst our programs.”  

 

SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchups unveiled

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A meeting between two of the sport’s most successful programs highlights this year’s slate of games in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which was unveiled Thursday.

Kansas will visit Rupp Arena to play Kentucky on Jan. 26 as part of the annual event’s sixth year of competition.

The Jayhawks have won three-straight against the Wildcats with two being part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and last year’s meeting part of the Champion’s Classic. Both teams ranked in the top five of our preseason Top 25.

Another marquee matchup will be defending SEC champ and likely top-10 preseason ranked Tennessee hosting Bob Huggins and West Virginia. Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton will welcome his alma mater to Stillwater with South Carolina the Cowboys’ matchup.

All games will be played on Saturday, Jan. 26. The challenge was split 5-5 last season. The Big 12 holds a 3-1-1 advantage in the event with its teams holding an overall record of 29-21.

2019 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Alabama at Baylor

Iowa State At Ole Miss

Kansas at Kentucky

Kansas State at Texas A&M

Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

South Carolina at Oklahoma State

Florida at TCU

Texas at Georgia

Arkansas at Texas Tech

West Virginia at Tennessee

Texas guard Kerwin Roach to return for senior season

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Texas announced on Thursday that Kerwin Roach II will be returning to school for his senior season.

The 6-foot-4 Roach declared for the draft following the season, but did not get invited to the NBA Draft Combine.

Roach averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 assists and 3.6 boards for the Longhorns a season ago. He is one of the most athletic players in the country, and spent the second half of last season as one of the most productive guards in the Big 12.

Big 12 conference reset: Kansas even stronger after Final Four?

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The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone, and there are a dozen or so truly impactful decisions that are left to be made.

Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season.

The coaching carousel has come to a close.

The transfer market is slowly winding down.

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2018-19 season.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the Big 12 over the next six months.

KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES

THE KANSAS MACHINE: Bill Self had what many considered his worst Kansas team and what the Kansas coach himself admitted was his unlikeliest Big 12 champions – the Jayhawks won not only their 14th-consecutive conference title but advanced all the way to the Final Four. There’s simply little else in this world you can count on more consistently than KU being the best the Big 12 has to offer.

And the Jayhawks may be even better this year. Sure, they lose a sizable chunk of the core that propelled them to San Antonio last season, but one of the reasons the Jayhawks were so vulnerable last year – depth and versatility – is what will make them formidable this year with the best transfer class in the country becoming eligible. Which isn’t even to mention another top recruiting haul. Kansas is a machine – something of a mix between a watch and a wrecking ball.

(David Purdy/Getty Images)

LOOMING DECISIONS: There may be little drama surrounding who is the team to beat heading into the upcoming season, there remains some intrigue as spring turns to summer. Most NBA decisions have been made, but there are some that could swing the balance of power at different spots across the league hierarchy.

The most impactful is probably Udoka Azubuike, the Kansas center who became an integral part of the Jayhawks’ four-out offense last year as the man in the middle keeping defenses honest. The Jayhawks will be able to play different ways this season with an expanded roster, but Azubuike is simply a player most teams don’t have a counter for – he’s a 75.4 percent career shooter from the floor.

Lindell Wigginton’s stay-or-go decision could hold the biggest sway over the future for any team in the league. The 6-foot-2 guard exhibited his athleticism and scoring prowess during his freshman season and is now weighing whether to try to be the first Nova Scotia native to make it in the NBA now or wait a year. If he returns, the Cyclones have four starters back and one of the most dynamic scorers in the conference. If he doesn’t, Iowa State is going to be relying heavily on newcomers to put points on the board.

West Virginia’s success is likely tied to its system, but having Sagaba Konate on the back line swatting away shots sure makes that system a lot better. He’ll be back to school next season. Kansas State should return its whole starting, and though Barry Brown hasn’t made his return official, it’s widely expected.

BRUCE WEBER’S RESURGENCE: On Feb. 25, 2017, Kansas State lost by 30 to an Oklahoma team that would finish ninth in the Big 12. It was the Wildcats’ fifth loss in six games and dropped them to 6-10 in the Big 12. Kansas State faithful, already frustrated by back-to-back missed NCAA tournaments and mass player defections, seemed to have had enough. The drumbeat to part with Weber amplified out of Manhattan.

Now just 15 months later, Weber has been to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and should have his entire roster from an Elite Eight team intact in 2018-19. That is one heckuva turnaround. Weber may not ever get the level of admiration that his predecessor, Frank Martin, got in the Octagon of Doom, but the results – I haven’t even mentioned that split 2013 regular season Big 12 title – speak for themselves and 2019 could scream the loudest.

WHERE DOES OKLAHOMA GO?: There was probably nothing as fun in the first few weeks and months of the 2017-18 season than Trae Young and Oklahoma. The kid who graduated from Norman North High School was doing the best Steph Curry impersonation the sport has seen since, well, Steph Curry became Steph Curry. Young was, inarguably, a sensation as he bombed away from 30 feet, dished out assists by the bundle and had the Sooners cruising.

Then the bottom fell out. Young still ultimately led the country in scoring and assists while the Sooners made the NCAA tournament, but the freshman phenom languished down the stretch while Oklahoma lost nine of their last 11 games. Now, Young is a likely lottery pick and the Sooners got hit with a one-two punch of transfers by Jordan Shepherd and Kameron McGusty. Lon Kruger is one of the country’s best coaches, but things look a little sideways for the Sooners at the moment without a ton of talent on the roster and the stink of last year’s finish still in the air.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

WHO’S GONE?

  • DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, SVI MYKHAILIUK, LAGERALD VICK and MALIK NEWMAN: These are heavy losses for the Jayhawks to sustain – and they’re still waiting out Azubuike – but they’re uniquely positioned to sustain them like few other teams in the country. It’ll be Graham’s steadiness and leadership that could be missed most.
  • KEENAN EVANS and ZHAIRE SMITH, Texas Tech: Evans was maybe one of the more underrated and overlooked players nationally last season as he averaged 17.6 points and carried the offensive load for the defensive-minded Red Raiders – and he did it down the stretch with a broken toe. He could be one of the hardest players in the conference to replace. Smith was the most electric dunker in the Big 12 – and maybe the country. His upside was just too high to keep him in college for another year. He’s likely headed for the lottery.
  • JEVON CARTER and TEDDY ALLEN, West Virginia: Carter’s production, specifically on the defensive end, is going to be so hard for the Mountaineers to replicate, but it’ll be his presence, his attitude, his aura – he was Press Virginia personified – that make him irreplaceable even for a program that’s entered plug-and-play territory. Allen really became WVU’s go-get-a-bucket guy down the stretch, and given how much they’ve struggled to score in the halfcourt in recent years, his decision to transfer stings.
  • VLADIMIR BRODZIANSKY and KENRICH WILLIAMS, TCU: Brodziansky blossomed into arguably the Big 12’s best big man while Williams was a huge part of the Horned Frogs’ identity offensively. TCU has a lot coming back, but filling these two roster holes will be difficult.
  • JO LUAL-ACUIL and MANU LECOMTE, Baylor: Baylor was resurgent in the second half of the season in no small part thanks to this duo.
  • MO BAMBA and ERIC DAVIS, JR, Texas: Bamba was always destined to be a one-and-done player so Texas was always prepared to bid him farewell this spring and the emergence of Jericho Sims during Bamba’s absence due to a toe injury mitigates the damage. The Longhorns are losing a lottery pick, yes, but they’ve planned for it and have an excellent replacement option. Davis decided to pursue a pro career just a few weeks after he was connected to Christian Dawkins in a Yahoo report.
  • TRAE YOUNG, KAMERON MCGUSTY AND JORDAN SHEPHERD, Oklahoma: Young was the Sooners last year as the country’s leading scorer and assist man – which, depending on your perspective – was either the impetus of the Sooners’ late-season swoon or an indictment of his less-than-capable teammates. That supporting cast will get its chance to prove itself – minus McGusty and Shepherd, who elected to transfer out of the program.
  • JEFFREY CARROLL, Oklahoma State: Carroll was a huge part of Oklahoma State’s surprising competitiveness last season, and his consistency will be missed in Mike Boynton’s second season.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

WHO’S BACK?

  • ESA AHMAD, West Virginia: Ahmad had an uneven season after being ineligible for more than the first half of the year, but his talent and toughness is critical for the Mountaineers.
  • JARRETT CULVER, Texas Tech: Zhaire Smith’s talent and aerial acrobatics made him the Red Raiders’ most dynamic and promising freshman, but Culver showed a ton of promise averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his rookie campaign.
  • KANSAS STATE: You could single out Barry Brown or Dean Wade here, but the Wildcats are literally bringing back their whole rotation. A forgiving draw may have helped them to the Elite Eight, but Kansas State has talent, experience and cohesion – quite the triple threat.
  • ALEX ROBINSON, JAYLEN FISHER, DESMOND BANE and KOUAT NOI, TCU: Jamie Dixon may be losing Brodziansky and Williams, but he returns a solid core and gets Fisher back from injury. The Horned Frogs are going to be a competitive threat to the rest of the league now with Dixon getting things rolling at his alma mater
  • DYLAN OSETKOWSKI, JERICHO SIMS, KERWIN ROACH, MATT COLEMAN AND ANDREW JONES, Texas: The Longhorns don’t exactly have star power on this team – at least apparent star power at the moment – but they’ve got guys that have got it done at this level. Andrew Jones missed most of last season after being diagnosed with leukemia, but coach Shaka Smart has spoken this offseason about the hope that Jones will be able to suit up in Austin once again this season – which is great news for reasons well beyond basketball.
  • BRADY MANEK, Oklahoma: Manek certainly wasn’t at the talent level of his classmate Trae Young, but the young big man did show flashes that he at least could one day be counted on to contribute in the Big 12. The Sooners will need more than just glimpses this year.
  • CAMERON LARD and NICK WEILER-BABB, Iowa State: There were times when the 6-foot-9 Lard looked like he was making an assault on the crown of best big man in the Big 12, putting up double-double after double-double while blocking heaps of shots defensively, but his production waned down the stretch as his consistency wilted. Weiler-Babb was a threat to put a triple-double up seemingly every night as a 6-foot-6 point guard until knee tendinitis sidelined him down the stretch.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

WHO’S COMING?

  • DEDRIC LAWSON, K.J. LAWSON, CHARLIE MOORE, QUINTIN GRIMES, DEVON DOTSON AND DAVID MCCORMACK, Kansas: So the Jayhawks have three high-level transfers – including one potential conference player of the year – and a top-five recruiting class featuring two five-star and two four-star prospects. That’s not reloading – that’s switching to a bazooka. Dedric is the headliner, but K.J put up numbers at Memphis and Moore fills a need a point guard. Then there’s Grimes and Dotson, two top-20 guards. It’s good to be Bill Self.
  • COURTNEY RAMEY, GERALD LIDDELL, KAMAKA HEPA and ELIJAH MITROU-LONG, Texas: Shaka Smart didn’t land any Mo Bamba-level recruits, but he’s got a top-10 class with as many as four players capable of being instant-impact contributors. Mitrou-Long, the brother of former Iowa State standout Naz Mitrou-Long, comes to Austin after being a double-digit scorer at Mount St. Mary’s.
  • MICHAEL WEATHERS, Oklahoma State: The 6-foot-2 guard was the MAC freshman of the year after averaging 16.7 points per game at Miami (Ohio).
  • MARIAL SHAYOK, MICHAEL JACOBSON AND TALEN HORTON-TUCKER, Iowa State: Shayok gives the Cyclones versatility and pedigree (having played in the Elite 8 at Virginia) at the wing while Jacobson could be the floor-spacer in the frontcourt Iowa State lacked last year. The ultra-versatile Horton-Tucker is a top-50 prospect who headlines one of the most promising recruiting classes ever assembled in Ames.
  • MATT MOONEY, TARIQ OWENS AND KHAVON MOORE, Texas Tech: Mooney averaged 18.7 points per game last season at South Dakota before becoming one of the most coveted graduate transfers on the market. The 6-foot-8 Moore is a borderline top-50 recruit that Chris Beard will be looking to get production from.
  • MARIO KEGLER AND MAKAI MASON, Baylor: If Baylor is going to get back to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years, these two transfers will have to play major parts.

COACHING CHANGES

  • NONE: With seven teams in the NCAA tournament and two top-two NIT seeds in 2017-18, the Big 12 had one of its most successful seasons. That made for a quiet silly season, with all 10 coaches staying put and there really being minimal pressure on nearly all 10 of them this year.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-BIG 12 TEAM

Dedric LAWSON, Kansas (POY)
BARRY BROWN, Kansas State
NICK WEILER-BABB, Iowa State
DEAN WADE, Kansas State
UDOKA AZUBUIKE*, Kansas

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS

1. KANSAS: The Jayhawks are looking for 15 years of supremacy in the Big 12. It’s one of the most amazing accomplishments in the modern era of college hoops.

2. KANSAS STATE: With essentially the whole rotation returning from last year’s Elite Eight team, the Wildcats look to be the strongest contender to their in-state rivals.

3. TCU: The Horned Frogs used to be the laughing stock of the Big 12. Under Jamie Dixon, they have the look of perennial contender.

4. WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers are still going to embrace Bob Huggins’ gruff and tough personality with their Press Virginia style, but losing Jevon Carter is a huge blow to that identity.

5. TEXAS: If Shaka Smart can’t keep the Longhorns in the upper half of the Big 12, there may be some questions in Austin about his long-term viability there. With this roster, though, Texas should be able to accomplish that feat.

6. TEXAS TECH: Keenan Evans is irreplaceable and Zhaire Smith is unmatchable, but the Red Raiders look to have a persona about them under Chris Beard. There’s also certainly no dearth of talent.

7. IOWA STATE: Lindell Wigginton’s decision to return to Ames or stay in the draft is a huge fork in the road for the Cyclones. If he stays, he’s the high-volume scorer everything revolves around. Should he leave, the Cyclones have a lot of interesting pieces but no proven star power and a lot of new faces.

8. BAYLOR: Scott Drew is seemingly at his best when the least is expected of his Bears, so this could be a significant under-slotting, but Baylor will be quite reliant on players that are at some level unknown at this level.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE: Mike Boynton’s team exceedingly overachieved in Year 1 of his tenure, but some early departures and an uninspiring recruiting class means they probably slip in Year 2.

10. OKLAHOMA: Trae Young was the Sooners last year, and his teammates often looked unable to keep up. With no Young and no big-time replacements, it could be a long season for the Sooners.