Three thoughts on Thursday: Big 12 basketball predictions

I know I’m going to regret this… 

Ever since Kansas signed Andrew Wiggins, I’ve been on the Bill Self bandwagon in regards to my pick to win the Big 12 this season. Why wouldn’t I be? It’s a combination of the best coach in America (love him or hate him, that’s William Self) with a guy who many feel will ultimately be the best player in America. 

There are few sure things in life. Bill Self owning the Big 12 Conference is generally one of them.

But after hanging out in Kansas City at the Big 12’s annual media day event on Tuesday, I’m taking the plunge. I’m going with Oklahoma State.

While it is absolutely terrifying to pick a team coached by Travis Ford over a team coached by Bill Self, it is also maddening to pick against the trio of Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash. All three of those men averaged over 30 minutes per game last season and 14 or more points. Those guys like each other (chemistry will not be a problem). They came back to college for each other. Winning the Big 12 (and I suppose in their minds, a National Championship) is their only goal.

And frankly, I think Oklahoma State is irritated about all of the hype that Kansas and that guy who has never scored a point (I dare myself to say that in January – Wiggins is legit) is getting. 

The Self factor is undeniable, as is Wiggins’ talent. The fact that Bill Self has said that there has never been more hype heading into a Kansas basketball season (since he’s been there) than now scares the you know what out of me.

But from afar, Oklahoma State is the more complete TEAM here. The Cowboys are my pick.

Baylor is Baylor is Baylor is Baylor

My guess is that this will again be the case this season, but perhaps not as much as the past couple of years?

Just thinking out loud here (for thousands of you to read and critique) and the loss of Pierre Jackson will sting, no doubt. But subtracting his 122 turnovers might even things out a bit for the Bears, who were recently picked third by the league’s coaches. 

“In practice we’ve had six different people run the point at different times.  So I think we have multiple people that are capable of handling the ball, distributing the ball,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said on Tuesday. “I think instead of maybe being so dominant with the ball in one person’s hand, I think we’ll share it a little bit more this year.”

And that’s my point. Perhaps now that the electric Jackson is gone, Baylor might do what it should have been doing all along, which is imposing is physical will on smaller opponents. But at the same time, who will take that big shot at the end of the game that Jackson was so good with?

Let’s all be honest though. It’s the same story on a different day in Waco. Drew has a ton of talent accumulated, but what will he do with it?

Stay tuned.

My concern for K-State

For years now, the MO of Kansas State basketball has been stoutness and defense. That is less the case now under Bruce Weber than it was under Frank Martin but even so, my mind tells me that guys like Shane Southwell and Thomas Gipson might have a hard time adapting to this new style of officiating that is in store for the upcoming season. 

Weber referenced his senior guard Will Spradling’s ability to draw charges and how it might be affected on Tuesday. 

“Almost every day Will takes a charge we’re like, ‘Go back and watch. Is it going to be a charge with the new rules?’ And we had a scrimmage the other day and I talked to Curtis (Shaw) in between after he talked that that’s going to be the toughest thing when there is a guy making a move to go to a shooting position, and is the guy there? It’s almost impossible to watch,” Weber said.

Without a proven point guard and some physicality being taken out of the game, I suspect a bit of a drop-off in Manhattan this season. The league’s coaches picked Kansas State fifth in the preseason poll, but I’d slot Oklahoma ahead of the Wildcats. I see Kansas State as a program on the decline and it will really become evident in 2013-14.