CBB Review previews Big 12 basketball heading into the 2023-24 season.
Big 12 basketball projected standings
1. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas is not only the projected #1 team in the conference but in the country. The main reason for that is the acquisition is Hunter Dickinson. The big man is one of the best players in the country and arguably the best transfer in the new era of college basketball. Pair him with Dajuan Harris, one of the best passers in the country, and you have a dynamic duo. Harris has posted one of the best assist/turnover ratios in the country in the past two years.
They also bring back Kevin Mccullar, one of the best defenders in the country, and KJ Adams, a high-energy forward who played a huge part in Kansas’ success last season. Don’t forget, they also have the best coach in the country Bill Self. It’s Kansas’ conference to lose, and they look the part.
2. Houston Cougars
By far the best new member of the conference, Houston actually looks a lot different than the team that many thought was the preseason favorite last season. Bringing in LJ Cryer is going to be the biggest piece on this team, putting up incredible numbers as the third option last year for Baylor. Now, as the first option he has the opportunity to shine.
Pair him with Jamal Shead and Ju’wan Roberts, two guys who return and are great system guys. They also have a deep bench, something that will be essential during the long Big 12 season. Terrence Arcenenaux has a chance to be a breakout player as well and is someone to watch. If you don’t think Bill Self is the best coach in the country, you probably think it’s Kelvin Sampson, who Houston is lucky to have.
3. Texas Longhorns
This Texas team can be the best team in the country if everything clicks. They decided to stick with Rodney Terry after a successful season last year, and time will tell if that was the right choice. As for the players on the floor, they could have something special. They know what they’re getting with Tyrese Hunter and Kadin Shedrick, two defensive monsters with incredibly high basketball IQs. Then, you have Max Abmas, who has been one of the best scorers in the country since making a name for himself at Oral Roberts but will need to show he is still able to do it at this level.
Dillon Mitchell was a highly touted recruit who opted to return to college instead of entering the NBA. With a year of experience behind his belt and an offseason to prepare, he can be a special talent. Finally, there’s Dylan Disu, who looked like a top 5 player in college basketball towards the end of last season but has injury issues that may hamper him throughout the season. The bench is lacking, but if those five can deliver, then there are only a handful of teams that can compete with this team.
4. TCU Horned Frogs
No Mike Miles, but the Horned Frogs still bring out a really talented roster. Emanuel Miller is a preseason Big 12 first-team All-Big 12 player, and Jameer Nelson Jr. is a 20 PPG guy. They also bring back a lot of experience, something that’s so valuable in college. Ernest Udeh could be a big piece, as the former five-star will finally get playing time on this team.
5. Iowa State Cyclones
Every year, we doubt Iowa State, and every year they overdeliver. I’m not falling for the trap this time. They bring back Tamin Lipsey, who is one of the most underrated players in the country and averaged over two steals a game as a freshman. They also bring in Omaha Billiew, the highest-ranked recruit in program history and one who can make an impact from Day 1. We know the defense is going to be great and they’re going to win at home. T.J Otzelberger is a winner and knows what it takes to do so, and will get this team to finish Top 5 in the conference.
6. Kansas State Wildcats
No one did a better job with their team than Jerome Tang with Kansas State last season. Unfortunately, they lose their two-star guys, Markquis Nowell, and Keoyntae Johnson. They did a good job replacing them though, bringing in Tylor Perry, the most underrated star in the country from North Texas, and Arthur Kaluma, a talented all-around player from Creighton.
The problem is everyone else. Tomlin was great last year, but there’s a huge drop-off after him. Desi Sills and Ismael Massoud stepped up at times last year, but both are gone. Can Cam Carter be that guy? That Big 2 will be enough to beat their inferior opponents, but they’ll need everyone else to take a leap if they want to replicate their success from last season.
7. Baylor Bears
This is easily my hottest take and I’m probably the lowest person in the country on Baylor this season. However, I think losing Jerome Tang really showed last year, and it will show even more now that the top 3 scorers are all gone from last season. Cryer, Flagler, and George were all so talented as scorers that they bailed them out of many situations, and they don’t have the personnel to replicate that this year. Jalen Bridges is the best returner, and he’ll have to embrace the bigger role. RayJ Dennis was terrific last year at the mid-major level, and if he maintains that success he can solve that problem.
The defense will be there, but the offense is a huge concern, especially with so many talented offensive players in the country. Scott Drew has proven he is not one to bet against, and with him at the helm, he and his team will have something to say about this ranking.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Grant McCasland enters Texas Tech after leading North Texas to its best stretch in program history. He’s a winner, and Texas Tech will be Big 12 contenders very soon, just not yet. They do have a talented lineup though, led by two Arizona State transfers Devan Cambridge and Warren Washington. They also bring back Pop Isaacs, a player who was inefficient as a freshman, but can turn into a high-quality college basketball as he matures. Joe Toussaint was also a terrific pickup, a veteran leader who will earn the respect of his teammates from the jump.
9. Oklahoma Sooners
Potentially a hot-seat year for Porter Moser? The Sooners haven’t had the success they’d like to see since Moser took over, but they made the right steps this offseason to improve. They returned Milos Uzan, another player due for a breakout season, then brought in several talented transfers. John Hugley was a 15 PPG scorer once, and if he can get back to that form he can be dangerous, Javian McCollum, Jalon Moore, Rivaldo Soares, and Le’Tre Dorthard are also nice pieces. They just need a guy to step up. Some think it will be Uzan, some think McCollum, but regardless roles will need to be set early for this team to be successful.
10. Cincinnati Bearcats
Hey, look, another new member! The Bearcats have a really talented frontcourt, led by Aziz Bandaogo, who averaged nearly 3 blocks per game last season. Viktor Lakhin is another terrific player, averaging double-digit points last season. The bench is a little questionable, but they should be a balanced program. We’ve seen a breakout team the past two years in the Big 12, and don’t be surprised if it’s this team.
11. West Virginia Mountaineers
What an offseason the Mountaineers had. First, the Bob Huggins situation, then Tre Mitchell leaves, and then they lose three more players before the season even starts. This is a team that went from looking like fringe top 25 in the country to not even top 10 in their own conference. If they want to reverse that, two guys will have to show up, Jesse Edwards and Kerr Kriisa. Edwards was one of the top centers in the country last year, leaving many surprised when he announced he was staying in the conference. He’s someone who’s talented enough to put the team on his back.
The other is Kerr Kriisa, one of the more polarizing players in the sport and a boom-or-bust player. He can be great, especially as a shooter, he just has to be smart when he’s on the court. After that, there’s a huge dropoff, and their depth might be the worst in the conference. The post-Bob Higgins era looks to be shaky in Morgantown.
12. BYU Cougars
BYU has had a few down years in the WCC, leading to doubts about how well they can perform in the Big 12 in year 1. They bring back four of their top six starters, including their leading scorer Fousseyni Traore. Mark Pope is a disciplined coach and in a Big 12 that has a lot of middle-tier teams, don’t be surprised if BYU sneaks up to as high as eight in the conference standings.
13. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mike Boynton hasn’t made an NCAA Tournament with this team, and was so close last year, being the first team out. Naturally, you’d assume he went all out this offseason to build a team that can get to that level, right? Wrong. Oklahoma State lost five players to the portal and only brought back one player who will be an impact player, albeit a big one in Javon Small.
They are putting a lot of trust in Bryce Thompson, who’s a talented scorer in the midrange. The plan is to start a freshman frontcourt, which is probably rule #1 of what not to do in college unless they are at least 5-star recruits. The bottom line, this team took a big step back this offseason, and it might be the end for Coach Bonyton.
14. UCF Knights
It seems like UCF is the consensus last-place team in the conference. They finished 7th in the American last season, and with all due respect to that conference, this is a different beast. They only bring back one starter, Darius Johnson, and don’t really have any impact transfers that can boost them anywhere above the cellar of the Big 12.
CBB Review Preseason Big 12 Basketball Player of the Year
Hunter Dickinson, Kansas
The Preseason first-team All-American is far and away the best player in a conference filled with All-American caliber players. In the past two years, he’s averaged over 18 points and just under 9 rebounds a game. He can stretch the floor, and hold his own on the defensive end as well thanks to his 7-2 frame. He does it all, and under the coaching of Bill Self, all signs point to him being even better, making him the choice for Big 12 Player of the Year.
CBB Review Preseason Big 12 Basketball Coach of the Year
Bill Self, Kansas
Yes, this is the safe pick, but if Kansas finishes where they’re projected, the #1 overall seed, then how can you not pick Self as the Big 12 Coach of the Year? Self is a 6-time award winner but hasn’t done so since 2018. It’s hard to predict a coach that will outperform expectations, which is usually the winner of this award, so for now you have to go with, well, the best coach in the Big 12 basketball, which is Self.
CBB Review Preseason Big 12 Basketball Transfer of the Year
Hunter Dickinson, Kansas
It doesn’t seem right to give Kansas all these awards, but if a transfer is projected to be the Big 12 Player of the Year, how can they not be the Transfer of the Year as well? As mentioned earlier, Dickinson is terrific and will be a tremendous boost to this Kansas team on both sides of the floor. After missing the tournament last year at Michigan, Dickinson looks to make it back there on the team with the longest current tournament streak.
CBB Review Preseason Big 12 Basketball First Team
- G: Dajuan Harris, Kansas
- G: Tylor Perry, Kansas State
- G: LJ Cryer, Houston
- F: Dylan Disu, Texas
- C: Hunter Dickinson, Kansas
CBB Review Preseason Big 12 Basketball Second Team
- G: Max Abmas, Texas
- G: Jamal Shead, Houston
- F: Jalen Bridges, Baylor
- F: Emannuel Miller, TCU
- C: Jesse Edwards, West Virginia
CBB Review Preseason Big 12 Basketball All-Freshmen Team
- G: Elmarko Jackson, Kansas
- G: Ja’Kobe Walter, Baylor
- F: Omaha Biliew, Iowa State
- F: Johnny Furphy, Kansas
- F: Eric Dailey, Oklahoma State