Preseason Big 12 North Basketball Ranking
Kansas maybe considered the top team in the Big 12 and the country, but how do the other programs in the Big 12 North stack up against each other?
Will Kansas State be a champion? Can Missouri replicate last season's run?
Chase McCarthy will be ranking the Big 12 North from six down to one to see who can make an impact and possibly overthrow Kansas as the top program in the North.
6. Colorado Buffaloes
Returning starters: Four
Projected Big 12 record: 4-12
The Colorado Buffaloes have not made the tourney since 1998, don't expect that to change this year.
The Buffaloes do return four starters but the problem is that those starters are coming from a team that finished 1-15 in conference play last year.
After Richard Roby's departure in 2008, someone needed to step up in his place.
That role is now occupied by Cory Higgins. Averaging 17.4 PPG, he is a bright spot on a very bad team. The rest of his teammates need to step up if they want to get out of the basement of the Big 12.
Until they do, the buffaloes stay at the bottom of the list.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Returning Starters: Two
Projected Big 12 record: 6-10
Projected Tournament: NIT
Doc Sadler is back for his fourth season in Lincoln but his Cornhuskers are in rebuilding mode. Cookie Miller transferred to Miami of Ohio and Nebraska has 9 scholarship players that came in this past offseason.
The youth factor on this Cornhusker team may prove to be their doom in Big 12 play. But the reason I have them ahead of the Buffaloes is one thing: Defense.
Sadler always has a well-coached team that plays great defense. He may not have a height advantage on many teams but what his team lacks in height, they make up for in discipline and heart.
I see the Cornhuskers going 6-10 with an upset win or two mix in.
4. Missouri Tigers
Returning starters: Two
Projected Big 12 record: 8-8
Post-season tourney: Bubble NCAA/Top seed in NIT
The Missouri Tigers were the surprise team of the nation last year and rode that success to the Elite Eight.
But with the departure of Carroll and Lyons, the Tigers have to find someone to replace their presence and scoring on the floor. The favorites right now are Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowers.
Even if those guys are half as good as Carroll or Lyons were, it most likely won't be enough for teams built with great frontcourts to have their way with the Tigers. Tiller and Taylor are going to be the leaders of a great backcourt, but the inexperience in the frontcourt will cost the Tigers.
Expect an 8-8 season from the Tigers and a possible NCAA Tourney Bid.
3. Iowa State Cyclones
Returning Starters: Four
Predicted Big 12 record: 9-7
Postseason: NCAA tourney and a No. 11 seed.
Craig Brackins is the obvious storyline of the 2009-2010 Iowa State squad. He shocked many people with his decision to come back for another year. The starting lineup is mostly intact and many pick the Cyclones as a dark horse to win the Big 12 North.
I believe that while the conference at the top is too strong for the Cyclones to win the regular season title, they can make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
I see the Cyclones going 9-7 in the Big 12, making it into the NCAA Tournament and losing in the first round.
2. Kansas State Wildcats
Returning Starters: Four
Predicted Big 12 Record: 11-5
Postseason: NCAA Tournament and a No. 5 seed
The Kansas State Wildcats return Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. This one-two punch in the backcourt is one of the best in the Big 12.
The Wildcats return a frontcourt with size in Colon.
They also have a highly ranked recruiting class highlighted by 6-foot-9 forward Wally Judge. This Wildcat team looks very strong and maybe just as good or better than the 2007-2008 squad with Walker and Beasley.
Look for the Wildcats to make a sweet sixteen run and make noise in the Big 12.
1. Kansas Jayhawks
Returning starters: Five
Predicted Big 12 record: 15-1
Postseason: NCAA tournament top overall seed
The Kansas Jayhawks have been voted preseason No. 1 for the second time in the AP poll and third time in the Coaches Poll.
With the return of all five starters who averaged four stars coming out of high school, it's no surprise the Jayhawks are picked by many to be National Champions.
But being picked to win the National Championship and winning the national championship are two different things. It all depends on who is in their bracket, who they play and how well they play.
Look for the Jayhawks to lose maybe 5 games total this year and I expect them to be cutting down the net in April 2010.