IRVING, Texas – As has been the case each of the last four years, Kansas is the preseason choice to win the Big 12 men’s basketball regular season championship. The Jayhawks were a unanimous selection and are the favorite for the 14th time in conference history overall.
KU will have four starters back from a squad that recorded its 10th consecutive season with 25 or more victories. Senior Perry Ellis will lead the squad after being the only player in the conference in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. The Jayhawks will be looking to earn their 27th straight NCAA bid – which would match North Carolina (1975-2001) for the all-time tournament record.
Oklahoma, which has finished second in the league in back-to-back seasons, was picked second and also has four starters back. The Sooners will be led by reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield, who topped the conference in scoring in 2014-15 and ranks 15th all-time at OU with 1,366 points. Iowa State, winner of the last two Big 12 postseason crowns, was chosen third and earned the other first-place vote. The Cyclones also return four starters and will be led by new head coach Steve Prohm.
Texas and Baylor were next at fourth and fifth. The Longhorns and new coach Shaka Smart also have four starters returning. The Bears will be led by All-Big 12 First Team choice Rico Gathers along with Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Taurean Prince. West Virginia placed sixth in the poll after leading the nation in steals a year ago.
Oklahoma State was seventh, while K-State, TCU and Texas Tech rounded out the preseason rankings. Since the Big 12 began competing as a 10-team league in 2011-12, every team picked eighth in the preseason poll has gone on to earn a NCAA bid (four consecutive seasons).
The Big 12 was the No. 1 conference in the nation in the RPI a year ago and returns four of five All-Big 12 First Team selections for the first time in league history. Six of the top nine Big 12 scorers from 2014-15 will play again this season after nine of 10 teams were ranked or received votes in the top 25 a year ago.
The Big 12 will hold its preseason media day on Tuesday, October 20 at Sprint Center in Kansas City – site of the 2016 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship. Live coverage will be available at Big12Sports.com.
2015-16 BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Team (First-place votes) Points
1. Kansas (9)* 81
2. Oklahoma 70
3. Iowa State (1) 68
4. Texas 51
5. Baylor 49
6. West Virginia 47
7. Oklahoma State 33
8. Kansas State 18
9. TCU 18
10. Texas Tech 15