Tag: Oklahoma

2018-2019 Big XII Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Dedric Lawson, Kansas

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Barry Brown, Kansas St

Jaylen Fisher, TCU

Sagaba Konate, West Virginia

Dedric Lawson, Kansas

Dean Wade, Kansas St

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Dedric Lawson

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Kansas

Memphis transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson are eligible just in time for Bill Self. That’s because the Jayhawks have to replace Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailluk, and Malik Newman. The Lawson twins will be joined by newcomers Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes and David McCormack. Junior Udoka Azubuike and senior Lagerald Vick will provide stability and extra production for what I believe to be the best team in the country.

2. Kansas St

A direct beneficiary of UMBC upsetting Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Kansas St was able to use that fortune to make a run to the elite 8. That run was made, for the most part, without senior forward Dean Wade. He’s back and will be joined by other key returners in fellow senior Barry Brown, junior Xavier Sneed and sophomore Cartier Diarra. This is clearly Bruce Weber’s best team since being in charge in Manhattan.

3. West Virginia

“Press Virginia” is now a system that people believe in, but that belief will be put to the test now that Jevon Carter is in the NBA. There is still plenty here including one of the best rim protectors in the country in junior forward Sagaba Konate. Returning with him in the frontcourt will be senior Esa Ahmad and junior Lamont West while junior James Bolden will attempt to replace Carter in the backcourt.

4. TCU

Head coach Jamie Dixon is showing why he was so successful at Pitt. He’s turned this program around in short order with the help junior guard Jaylen Fisher. Fisher’s health is the key to season as he’s already had two knee surgeries this calendar year. Sophomore forward Kouat Noi, senior guard Alex Robinson and freshmen R.J. Nembhard, Kaden Archie and Kendric Davis will need to pick up the slack if Fisher isn’t at full strength early.

5. Iowa St

The Cyclones return much of what was a very competitive, albeit last place team in the Big XII last season. One the best scorers in the conference senior guard Lindell Wigginton is back with his backcourt mate senior Nick Weiler-Babb. Sophomore Cameron Lard returns in the frontcourt and he’ll be joined by Virginia transfer Marial Shayok and freshman Talen Horton-Tucker. There’s is plenty here to get the Cyclones back to the tournament.

6. Texas

Head coach Shaka Smart isn’t on the hot seat, but he might be if he doesn’t get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament this season. The problem is he may not have the roster for that kind of a run. Sophomore Matt Coleman III and senior Kerwin Roach II return in the backcourt for the Longhorns. A top-10 recruiting class should be able to provide plenty depth for Texas. Watch out to see if Texas can replace Mo Bamba’s rim protection.

7. Texas Tech

Chris Beard is making a name as one of the best X and O’s coaches in the country and he’ll have to use all of that to get his Red Raiders back to the tournament. Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith are gone leaving sophomore guard Jarrett Culver to carry the torch from last year’s outstanding team. Transfers Tariq Owens and Matt Mooney will be looked to for help as well. Freshmen Khavon Moore and Kyler Edwards are solid pieces for the future.

8. Baylor

This is one of the most intriguing teams in the league because there are so many unknowns. Transfers Mario Kegler and Makai Mason will be big pieces to their success while freshmen Matthew Mayer and Flo Thamba will have to be ready to hit the ground running. The league is probably just a little too difficult for the roster head coach Scott Drew has this season.

9. Oklahoma

The Sooners are going to have a helluva Trae Young hangover. Young dominated the ball last season and didn’t have much to work with. That is a significant reason why Oklahoma faltered down the stretch. Senior guard Christian James and sophomore forward Brady Manek do return though. Grad transfer Aaron Calixte will be tasked with replacing Young.

10. Oklahoma St

The Cowboys almost made the tournament last season, but head coach Mike Boynton lost quite a bit from that team. He’s going to need transfers Mike Cunningham and Curtis Jones as well as freshman Isaac Likekele to make an instant impact. The Cowboys are in a rebuilding year, but Boynton has the program in good shape.

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Maye Day

 

Luke maye
(Gerry Broome – Associated Press)

The defending national champions are looking good enough to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament after their 78-73 road win over Tennessee on Sunday.  Much of that is due to the emergence of Luke Maye. The junior forward is averaging 19.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season and has filled in aptly for the departed Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

 

Maye burst on the scene during last year’s NCAA tournament when he hit the game-winning jumper to send the Tar Heels to the Final Four over Kentucky. He has been even better than anyone outside of the North Carolina locker room could expect this season.

Inside that locker room, they say they’re not surprised because they saw Maye put in the work.

“Let’s be honest, too, it’s not coaching,” North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said earlier this month according Raleigh News & Observer. “It’s sweat because Luke Maye has been willing to put in the sweat at an amount and level that very few players have done.”

Add him with proven winner Joel Berry at point guard and the Tar Heels have enough veteran talent to sustain success throughout this season.

National Player of the Week: Tyus Battle, Syracuse. Battle wasn’t the most efficient, but he hit big shots when his team needed in a rivalry game on the road. His 29 points helped propel the Orange to the win over Georgetown on Saturday.

Stock Up: Oklahoma. Buoyed by high-octane freshman Trae Young, Oklahoma went on the road (basically) and beat a good Wichita St team. The Sooners are now 8-1 and are putting together a solid NCAA resume.

Stock Down: Andy Kennedy’s job security. Ole Miss has now lost home games to Illinois St and South Dakota St this season while getting blown out on the road by Middle Tennessee. This was a critical year for him and he’s not off to a great start.

Stock Up: Clemson. The Tigers went on the road (basically) and beat Florida for their second win over a marquee opponent this season after winning at Ohio St last month. Brad Brownell was on thin ice going into this season, but he’s having the kind of start he needed.

Stock Down: UCLA. The Bruins are almost out of chances to get a good non-conference win before league play starts. UCLA lost back-to-back games to Michigan and Cincinnati and only have Kentucky left on the 23rd. If the Bruins lose that one, they’ll have a lot of work to do in a down Pac-12.

This Week’s Top 25:

1.       Villanova

2.       Michigan St

3.       Arizona St

4.       Duke

5.       Miami

6.       Kentucky

7.       Texas A&M

8.       Xavier

9.       North Carolina

10.   TCU

11.   Gonzaga

12.   West Virginia

13.   Wichita St

14.   Kansas

15.   Virginia

16.   Purdue

17.   Seton Hall

18.   Texas Tech

19.   Oklahoma

20.   Florida St

21.   Baylor

22.   Tennessee

23.   Arizona

24.   Cincinnati

25.   Notre Dame

The Biggest Cats in the Valley

Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. Photo: Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports

The country has been so enamored with Wichita St over the past three years that it overlooked a program that has been among the most successful in the Missouri Valley in the past decade. That is no longer an issue as Northern Iowa has staked its claim as the team to beat in the MVC.

As in most years, the Panthers are doing it with defense as they lead the league in points allowed, field goal percentage defense, and three-point field goal percentage defense. In fact, when Wichita St made the trip up to Cedar Falls it only shot 35.4 percent for the game.

Defense can carry a team a long way in March and the Panthers, who’ve only allowed one opponent to score 60 since December 13, have the tools to get to the second weekend.

Stock Up: Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. The arch rivals are having quite the run in recent weeks. Both are climbing the Big XII standings and posting impressive wins while they do it.

Stock Down: Georgetown. There’s a lot of talent on the team, but it’s just not coming together as of yet. The Hoyas have plenty of time to climb out of their current funk, but getting swept by Xavier and Providence won’t look good on Selection Sunday.

Stock Up: Harvard. Hasn’t been the prettiest start, but it looks like the Crimson has found its groove. Harvard is beginning to resemble the team everyone thought it would before the season started.

Stock Down: USC. The Trojans are 1-10 in conference play and this is a down year in the Pac-12. Andy Enfield has yet to get Dunk City to move to Los Angeles.

On to the Bracket.

Last Four In: Miami(FL), Stanford, Purdue, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: Colorado St, Michigan St, Boise St, Rhode Island

This bracket is good for games thru 2/8

Quick Note: Virginia is on the No. 2 line because of Justin Anderson’s injury. We’ll see how this week plays out.

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.North Florida/Alabama St Louisville

8.Iowa9.Xavier

5.Ohio St12.Stephen F. Austin Jacksonville

4.Oklahoma13.Harvard

6.Cincinnati11.Old Dominion Portland

3.Utah14.North Carolina Central

7.SMU10.Georgia Charlotte

2.Virginia15.Albany

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.Sacramento St Seattle

8.Georgetown9.Dayton

5.Northern Iowa12.Purdue/Stanford Columbus

4.Iowa St13.Valparaiso

6.Oklahoma St11.Texas A&M/Miami(FL) Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Bowling Green

7.VCU10.Illinois Portland

2.Arizona15.New Mexico St

EAST

1.Duke16.North Dakota St Charlotte

8.Indiana9.Tulsa

5.West Virginia12.Wofford Pittsburgh

4.Wichita St13.Iona

6.Maryland11.UCLA Seattle

3.Baylor14.UC Davis

7.Mississippi10.Texas Pittsburgh

2.Villanova15.Louisiana Monroe

SOUTH

1.Wisconsin16.St. Francis(NY)/Colgate Omaha

8.San Diego St9.LSU

5.Butler12.Murray St Jacksonville

4.Notre Dame13.Louisiana Tech

6.Arkansas11.Temple Columbus

3.Louisville14.William & Mary

7.Providence10.George Washington Omaha

2.Kansas15.High Point