The start of college basketball is here! The longest offseason in sports is over, and today is the day it all gets started again. I’m excited, you’re excited, so let’s just get to it.
This season, every day that there is a Big 12 game, there will be a daily preview post, focused on predicting the games both straight-up and against the spread. This is the most fun way to preview games to me for a couple reasons. First, there’s no need to write some bland, two sentence blurb for each game. That is just empty calories to me. I’ll highlight a few games (I’ll call these Quick Hitters) that I like most and maybe the one that is not being talked about enough, but there’s no need to write something for each game.
Second, I love to gamble. So I might as well post my gambling picks here and track them all season long. I will pick every Big 12 game that I can (some non-conference games may not have a line), and then I’ll pick a handful or two handfuls worth of games from outside the Big 12. These could be major top-10 matchups or games that I just am looking forward to watching or a spread that I want to bet. There will be no real, specific guidelines. But, I will track how I’m doing in all of these bets, both Big 12 and non-league bets. Should be fun to follow.
Alright, here’s today’s slate and my picks for the day. Lines are from VegasInsider and are as up to date as Thursday, November 9th, 5:30 PM CST. (Click image to expand in new tab.)
Here are my picks for all of the important Big 12 awards. This includes Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Coach of the Year, 1st and 2nd Team All-Conference, and All-Freshman Team. I didn’t do any super long in-depth write-ups here. If you want to see my thoughts on any of these players, check out my preview article on their team. (These can be found here.) I guarantee you I wrote about every player listed here in those previews. I also posted my projected order of finish at the bottom of this post in case anyone didn’t read through the various Power Rankings.
Preseason Player of the Year:
Devonte’ Graham, SR Guard, Kansas
• I think Graham is a legitimate candidate for National Player of the Year and 1st Team All-American. So many of the possessions that went to Frank Mason last year will now be going to Devonte’ Graham this season. He will be the team’s highest scorer, and probably their most efficient scorer, and his team will be the best team in the Big 12. He will be much more of a primary ball-handler this season, which will help him to generate even better stats. Enjoy The Apostrophe in his senior season in Lawrence.
Here is my preseason edition of “Bracketology”. I didn’t build a bracket at this point, because that’s basically entirely pointless at this time. I just seeded the teams 1-68, making sure to have one bid from each league and the correct amount of at-large bids. This gives you a good idea of where teams are currently situated headed into the season and who their direct competition is for particular seeds, regions, and pods.
I’ll dive into what this all means for each of the relevant Big 12 teams below. Here is the seed list.
Last week, I completed our team preview series, looking in-depth at each Big 12 team and their outlook for this season. Check these out if you haven’t; they will be well worth your time. (I wrote over 30,000 words in total, so it will definitely take a bit of your time.)
We are now just one day away from the start of the season, and I wanted to examine what non-conference matchups we should most looking forward to. So, let’s examine the top couple of matchups for each Big 12 team. A couple things to consider–first, there are preseason conference tournaments where a potential matchup could be quite intriguing. I’ll look into some of these that we may see if we’re lucky. Second, the Big 12/SEC Challenge obviously consists of non-conference matchups, but it feels very different, especially considering the fact that it occurs in January. So none of those matchups will be included here; I’ll do a breakdown of that event once it rolls around in late January. This will essentially be a look at games that are played before conference play starts on December 29. Alright, let’s dive in.
Best Confirmed Matchup: Saturday, December 2 vs. Wichita State
Preseason Kenpom Rankings: Wichita State: 4th, Baylor: 19th
Current Kenpom Projection: Wichita State 72-71 Baylor
• Baylor has a really fun non-conference schedule, and this is the highlight. Baylor’s non-conference slate includes this game in Waco against Wichita State, an away game in Cincinnati against Xavier on November 28th, and the CBE Classic in Kansas City. They open the CBE Classic against Wisconsin and then will either play UCLA or Creighton in their 2nd matchup.
• Wichita State is apparently the 11th Big 12 team this season, as they have non-conference games against Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. This will be a chance for Baylor to get a big resume win, as Wichita State will likely be a top-10 team all season.
• Last season, Wichita State was the 9th best team in the country in Opponents OReb Rate, at 24.2%. Baylor was 3rd in the country at OReb Rate, at 39.8%. That could be where the game is decided.