A series of offseason moves over the last month has transformed the Big 12 from a very average basketball league in 2013-14 to perhaps what will be a pretty good one – at the top at least.
It all began when Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and LeBryan Nash decided to come back to Oklahoma State. Talent wise, even today I’d rank the Cowboys at No. 1 in my insanely early Big 12 basketball power rankings.
Then, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson announced that they would be coming back to Baylor. Mark Scott Drew’s Bears down with the most physically dominating frontcourt in the league.
And then yesterday happened. Bill Self happened. Again.
Kansas signed the nation’s top-ranked recruit, Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-7 small forward who many are calling the best player to come out of high school since….(wait for it)…..LeBron James.
That dadgum Bill Self. He won again. He always wins.
So now, who is the favorite to win the league you ask?
That is one heck of a question, one that I’ve thought about for the last 24 hours and am still having a hard time answering.
You’ve got the most talented team in the league, Oklahoma State, with who I’d call the best player, a heady point guard in Marcus Smart.
Or, you go with Bill Self, The Streak and this young man Wiggins? And the boast of other four and five star recruits that Kansas has collected over the years as well.
It is a ton of talent and Travis Ford vs. a little less talent and Bill Self…
The pick is in…
1 – Kansas – You know even as of yesterday afternoon, my mind was made up. I was going with the Cowboys. But then I got on the Internet last night and did about an hour worth of reading up on Wiggins. Now I am rock chalking again.
Yes indeed, I have bought into the hype.
That wasn’t entirely what changed my mind though. Of course there is Bill Self, the best coach in all of college basketball (that’s arguable of course). That had something to do with it. But then I got to thinking about a guy like Perry Ellis. Here is a KU big that really started to play well at the end of last season (remember that game against Iowa State at the Sprint Center?).
Every year, Kansas loses studs and every year, we find ourselves wondering if this will finally be the year that The Streak comes to an end. I’m predicting that with Wiggins beside him, Ellis will be one of, if not the most improved player in the league next year. Naadir Tharpe will only get better too. And there are the others of course.
I understand those who are sticking with Oklahoma State. Marcus Smart is basically another coach out there on the floor for the Cowboys. As Fred Hoiberg likes to put it, he’s a "stat stuffer." I love Oklahoma State’s roster next season and see them as a two or three seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But after everything that went down yesterday, Kansas is the SMART (no pun intended) pick here. Wiggins’ signing puts the Jayhawks right back in the National Title conversation and once again, Kansas is my pick to win the Big 12.
2 – Oklahoma State – This is a team that could very well be right in that National Championship conversation with the Jayhawks. All of these guys sticking around will no doubt make life more difficult for a young Iowa State team but it is good for the league as a whole. At the very least, the Big 12 will have two elite teams in 2013-14. Two months ago, I wasn’t sure that it would have one.
(From here, the order stays the same as it was last time.)
3 – Baylor
4 – Iowa State
5 – Kansas State
6 – West Virginia
7 – Oklahoma
8 – Texas
9 – TCU
10 – Texas Tech