In Predicted Order of Finish:
Scott Drew and Co. come flying into 2022-23 with another strong roster and a great chance at their 2nd national title as well. The return of Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer along with the addition of 5 stars, Keyonte George and Langston Love, make the Bears pretty scary. West Virginia transfer Jalen Bridges and BYU transfer Caleb Lohner are two others that step into an ideal place and culture that will reap benefits for them. Where the questions start to mount is at the PG and center positions. Flagler is a great off ball guard but isn’t proven as someone who can be the primary ball handler. There may be some others farther down the line in Dale Bonner or Dantwan Grimes who can assist in this matter but there is no clear answer. At the center position- Flo Thamba is the main man and a good one at that but who backs him up? This is another storyline to follow. Despite those two developments, Baylor is primed for a big run in March and one of my favorite bets on the board at 15 to 18-1 to put up a banner.
The reigning champs come into the season with lots of new faces after 6 of their top 8 players are no longer on the roster. The top returning players in 6-8 forward Jalen Wilson and guard Dajuan Harris will lead the charge but they also have some good reinforcements joining them. Texas Tech transfer forward Kevin McCullar brings a wealth of experience and talent as a jack of all trades. 5 star Gradey Dick is another piece to the puzzle and probably the best long distance threat for the Jayhawks. Much like Baylor, Kansas lacks low post presence. They will be relying on several freshmen to fill in down low which brings plenty of intrigue. While the Jayhawks probably lack the wherewithal to defend their title, they will still be a factor come March and possibly even a #1 seed by season’s end.
The Longhorns bring plenty of firepower back from their somewhat disappointing 2021-22 season (based on preseason expectations). Last year’s transfers Marcus Carr and Timmy Allen were supposed to be better than they were but there is plenty of optimism they can reach that level in the upcoming year. The arrival of Iowa St PG Tyrese Hunter is one bright spot for Chris Beard and the Longhorns. He can take the primary ballhandling responsibilities and let Marcus Carr play comfortably off the ball in lots of situations. 5 star freshman Dillon Mitchell is another boon for the Longhorns off the bench along with New Mexico State transfer guard Sir’Jabari Rice. Down low, returnees Christian Bishop and Dylan Disu have plenty of experience and will be leaned upon plenty as the team as a whole is a bit undersized. Chris Beard must be wondering how well this team will mesh and improve on the whole, though. Last year was a rocky one despite the talented additions Beard made and he will be hoping everything meshes a bit better this time around.
No team brings back more in the Big 12 than Jamie Dixon and the Horned Frogs. The top 6 returning scorers are back including Preseason Big 12 POY Mike Miles. The other notable returnees include Eddie Lumpkin, Emanuel Miller, Chuck O’Bannon Jr, and Damion Bough. The Horned Frogs were one of the best defenses in the nation last year with this crew and also boasted the #1 OREB % in the nation but the shooting and turnovers could be their biggest roadblock. An offense that finished 74th in the nation last year has no clear paths to improvement and will most likely limit them to a second weekend NCAA team at best.
5. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders are a team with lots of questions to start the season after losing 5 integral players off of last year’s roster and today’s news of the loss of impact transfer center Fardaws Aimaq until February at the earliest. Coach Mark Adams had a very impressive 1st season as head coach at Tech and is one of the best defensive coaches in the nation so that side of the court will be plenty fine. Where the problem comes is on the offensive end. Kevin Obanor or De’Vion Harmon will need to step up into that alpha scorer role to start the season for some semblance of an above average offense. Another source of offense could be Gardner Webb transfer D’Maurion Williams who is a sharpshooter and averaged 15+ a game, albeit in the Big South. The questions down low with Aimaq to start the season and worrying signs on offense will limit this team early but as the season goes on, the Red Raiders should become better and round into form. At the least, they are an NCAA tournament team.
6. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has plenty to look forward to after having to traverse a post season ban in 2021-22. Returnees in First Team All Big 12 player Avery Anderson, Moussa Cisse, Kalib Boone and Bryce Thompson will be integral pieces for Mike Anderson and the Cowboys. Two transfers in John Michael-Wright and Caleb Asberry could be needed improvements for an OK State offense that was far from efficient last season. If the turnover problems (332nd in TO %) and shooting are better this season and can combine with a defensive efficiency that ranked 4th in the nation (KenPom) this team could go places. The Cowboys should be a tournament team this year and could be an upper echelon Big 12 squad if things break right.
7. Iowa State
The Cyclones lost their two best players from last season, Izaiah Brockington and Tyrese Hunter, but bring in a veteran core of transfers who could keep the train rolling for 2nd year head coach T.J. Otzelberger. The package deal of St. Bonaventure transfers guard Jaren Holmes and center Osun Osunniyi will prove its weight in gold. Minnesota transfer guard Gabe Kalscheur should also slot himself into the starting backcourt alongside Holmes. Other notable additions down low include VCU transfer big man Hason Ward and Eastern Kentucky Tre King. How all these pieces mesh together remains to be seen but the defense should be one of the best in the conference again. The offense is where question marks come up as they lost their two top scorers from an offense that was dreadful last year. There is no obvious primary ballhandler so that obstacle and who can step up as an alpha scorer will have to come to light as the season goes on. Iowa State could certainly make a run at a tournament bid but it certainly is far from a lock. There is plenty of intrigue and positivity around the future of the program as there should be and it is exciting to see where Otzelberger takes them.
The storyline around the Sooners coming into the season is their all star backcourt as Nevada transfer Grant Sherfield and George Washington transfer Joe Bamasile come into the fold with plenty of experience and numbers to back up the hype. How they perform in one of the best conferences in the league is up for debate but it certainly is possible they closely replicate what they’ve done elsewhere. Returning Big 12 All Freshman CJ Noland is also expected to make a jump and is one of the best shooters on the team. The March Madness darling brothers Tanner and Jacob Groves return for another season and are expected to be stalwarts in the post. Both struggled a bit in the rough and tumble Big 12 but Tanner did add 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason to hopefully improve on that weakness. Another big man of note for the Sooners is Wofford transfer Sam Godwin who should add some depth for them but how effective he can be remains to be seen. This is another Big 12 team who has their eye on an NCAA tournament bid and it is certainly realistic.
9. West Virginia
Bob Huggins is relying on the transfer portal heavily this season to reload and (hopefully) turn around a program that feels like it is on a downswing after last year. Tre Mitchell, Erik Stevenson, Emmitt Matthews, Joe Touissant and Jose Perez are all familiar names to hardcore college basketball fans and will be joining the program (or rejoining in Emmitt Matthews’ case). They bring a wealth of experience having all played at least 4 years. The high level talent is what may limit the Mountaineers’ ceiling for the season. There are plenty of pieces that have come in who can elevate them to a tournament team this season but it is truly up in the air whether that will occur.
10. Kansas State
The coaching carousel was ever present in Manhattan, Kansas for the first time in a long time after the firing of Bruce Weber. Jerome Tang, a Scott Drew disciple, has a ragtag group of players and it will be tough to go very far this season as a result. Tang himself has already voiced concerns about bringing in 10 new faces with only 2 returnees from last season’s roster. One key returnee is Markquis Nowell, an undersized 5-8 guard, who was important for the Wildcats last year. Two transfers that could make some noise are Arkansas State transfer guard Desi Sills and Florida transfer wing Keyontae Johnson. Johnson could be a real game changer but has a history of heart issues that has not allowed him to play for the better part of two years. If he were to regain his previous form, he could really lift this team to different heights but that is a huge unknown. Where the biggest issue lies for Kansas State is in the post. They will have to rely on the contributions of several different faces who are relatively inexperienced or are “up” transfers from mid major type schools.
This is an article written by Pat Taylor
Most Recent Post
This December 27, 2023 College Football Bowl Game DirecTV Holiday BowlDirecTV Holiday BowlLouisville vs USCSan Diego, CAWednesday, Dec 27, 2023 - 8:00 PM ESTIf you're looking for sports books in your state that have a special promotion - this link will help you find...