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Breaking Down West Virginia’s Big 12 Conference Opponents

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Death, Taxes and Kansas.

If there is one thing you can count on in this crazy world, it is the Kansas Jawhawks being able to somehow wiggle their way to a Big XII title fourteen consecutive times. A feat that is all the more impressive when you learn that the Big XII has also finished as the strongest conference in KenPom rankings five season in a row. Last year, to add to that accomplishment 9 out of 10 teams played in post season basketball, with 7 of them featuring in the NCAA tournament.

And yet, much like life, Kansas... finds away. So let’s all just get this reality sort of built into our heads. Kansas is very, very likely to repeat as title champions for the 15th consecutive year. This season, especially, Kansas looks to be a fully-operational Murder Machine.

After that though it’s pretty exciting though because outside of Kansas, virtually every team has some sort of major question mark.


Baylor Bears

Last Season

19-15 (8-10); 9th Place BIG XII; NIT R16

Predicted Conference Finish

9th

Record vs WVU all-time

7-8

Key Players

Mario Kegler

Takeaway

Baylor was an extremely strange team in 2017-18. Despite a lot of talent, they had injury trouble and were wantonly inconsistent, but improved towards the end of the season. This looks to be a major rebuilding year for the Bears, however, and in this conference that’s a recipe for a rough season. Still the Bears will be a tough out for anyone and could be a surprise.


Iowa State Cyclones

Last Season

13-18 (4-14); 10th place BIG XII

Predicted Conference Finish

5th

Record vs WVU all-time

6-7

Key Players

Lindell Wigginton

Takeaway

Last year was absolutely a year the Cyclones would like to forget, and they should be an improved team with the return of Lindell Wigginton and a strong group of newcomers that include a couple of highly touted transfers. That said, the Cyclones have questions including the status of talented big man Cameron Lard and their ability to score outside of Wigginton.


Kansas Jayhawks

Last Season

31-8 (13-5); BIG XII Champions; NCAA Final 4

Predicted Conference Finish

1st

Record vs WVU all-time

10-4

Key Players

Dedric Lawson

Takeaway

I have already talked a bunch about Kansas, but good lord. How do you also get, in addition to one of the top classes, the best transfer in electric Dedric Lawson. It’s simply not fair.


Kansas State Wildcats

Last Season

25-12 (10-8); 4th place BIG XII; NCAA Elite 8

Predicted Conference Finish

3rd

Record vs WVU all-time

5-10

Key Players

Dean Wade

Takeaway

How this team made the Elite 8 remains an utter fucking mystery to me. Still they have basically their entire team back, including talented and versatile Dean Wade; but let’s be real this is a Bruce Weber coached team. They could just as easily beat Kansas and then lose to like, I don’t know, Texas A&M Corpus Christi.


Oklahoma Sooners

Last Season

18-14 (8-10); 8th place BIG XII, NCAA R64

Predicted Conference Finish

7th

Record vs WVU all-time

7-9

Key Players

Brady Manek

Takeaway

I think the absolute world of Lon Kruger. He’s one of the best coaches in the nation; but going 18-14 with Trae Young was the strangest thing in the world. The Sooners lost a lot of talent, either to graduation, the NBA Draft, or transfers and while they have a excellent recruiting class in the wings, this year will be a transitional year for the Sooners. Still its hard to imagine with Kruger’s coaching ability this team falling too far off the wagon.


Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last Season

21-15 (8-10); 6th place BIG XII, NIT

Predicted Conference Finish

10th

Record vs WVU all-time

6-7

Key Players

Cameron McGriff

Takeaway

The Cowboys were a fantastic story in 2017-18 and were, quiet frankly, far more deserving of an NCAA tournament bid than a number of teams that got in from their own conference. This year though? Well, um. [shuffles papers around] Cameron McGriff is back! That’s about it in terms of production from a season ago.


Texas Longhorns

Last Season

19-15 (8-10); 7th place BIG XII, NCAA R64

Predicted Conference Finish

8th

Record vs WVU all-time

8-9

Key Players

Andrew Jones*

Takeaway

I think it’s fair to say the Shaka Smart Era has been a disappointment. Regular readers of Musket Power Rankings will now how I feel about this, but for those of you who don’t — despite being heralded as the next Big Thing, Smart has never managed more than 20 wins (his first season with Rick Barnes recruits, and never gotten past the first round of the NCAA.) His continued future at Texas could hinge on the health of talented guard Andrew Jones, who is battling back from a mid-season leukemia diagnosis. To be clear, Texas has a lot of talent, but that’s been true virtually every year under Smart.


TCU Horned Frogs

Last Season

21-12 (9-9); 5th place BIG XII, NCAA R64

Predicted Conference Finish

4th

Record vs WVU all-time

1-12

Key Players

Jaylen Fisher

Takeaway

People laughed when Jamie Dixon bolted from Pitt in 2016. Not me. He’s a great coach and recruiter and taken bottom dweller TCU to new heights. Though they lose versatile big Vlad Brodziansky, Jaylen Fischer returns, having missed the end of the season with an injury, along with other talent.


Texas Tech Red Raiders

Last Season

27-10 (11-7); 2nd Place BIG XII, NCAA Elite 8

Predicted Conference Finish

6th

Record vs WVU all-time

3-12

Key Players

Jarrett Culver

Takeaway

The Red Raiders were a surprise team in 2017-18, and made it to the Elite 8, and though they’re bringing in some talented transfers in Matt Mooney from South Dakota and Tariq Owens from St. John’s, it’s going to be all but impossible to replace Keenan Evans and Zaire Smith as the Raiders fall back in the back.