Big 12 expert picks, predictions 2019-20: Kansas picked to win league even after streak of 14 titles is snapped
In the Big 12, our experts believe Kansas has the talent to reclaim its spot atop the league standings
Kansas' reign of dominance in the Big 12 with 14 consecutive league titles was snapped last season when Texas Tech and Kansas State shared the regular-season conference crown and stole it from the Jayhawks, ending one of the most remarkable runs of sustained success in college basketball history.
A run like that may never be seen again with as much parity that exists in the sport, but who's to say Kansas can't start a new streak? Our panel of experts believe it can happen, as KU is the consensus favorite to win the league entering the 2019-20 season. Bill Self's team not only boasts CBS Sports' Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, but they're the only team in our Preseason All-America projections to have multiple players on the first, second or third team.
CBS Sports Big 12 Preseason Player of Year
Devon Dotson, Kansas: Operating as the lead guard in KU's system as a true freshman is no small task. Dotson navigated the job with ease and got more comfortable as a playmaker and scorer as the season progressed. He declared for the NBA Draft after the season and impressed scouts with his quickness and decision-making, but ultimately chose to come back to school despite the high likelihood he'd have been drafted. As a sophomore Dotson should be ready to make a gargantuan leap. With the team's top two scorers from last season gone, he'll be thrust into a No. 1 role for a team primed to take back the conference it has dominated for the last decade-plus.
CBS Sports Big 12 Preseason Coach of the Year
Scott Drew, Baylor: If not for Chris Beard emerging as one of the best young coaches in the game last season, this award may well have been Drew's. Last season he coached a Baylor team picked to finish ninth in the Big 12 to a sixth place finish and an NCAA Tournament appearance. This season, with Baylor picked to finish second, he returns star forward Tristan Clark and a number of ancillary pieces capable of keeping Kansas from reclaiming its stance atop the league.
CBS Sports Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year
Jahmius Ramsey, Texas Tech: If there was ever a doubt about Chris Beard's ability to identify talent, well … who am I kidding? Beard's been one of the best in the Big 12 at scooping up underrated players and transforming them into NBA players. Now we're about to see what he can do with a top-40 prospect in Ramsey who will be called upon to produce in a big day from the moment the season starts.
Big 12 predicted order of finish
|The only uncertainty about Kansas lies off the court, where the NCAA's shadow looms after significant violation allegations in September were levied against the program related to the FBI's corruption probe. On the court, there's nothing but certainty. KU gets Devon Dotson back as well as a healthy Udoka Azubuike, who should immediately assert himself again as one of the best bigs in basketball.|
|Since Chris Beard took over the program in 2016, Tech has finished in the bottom half of the league standings only once — and that was in his first season. His second season the Red Raiders finished second, and his third, which was last season, they won the league. Given his universal approval ratings in Lubbock, Texas, his next step may be running for political office. Even with three of the team's top four scorers from last season's national runner-up squad gone, Beard's stuffed his cupboard with enough talent to compete for the conference crown once again.|
|Baylor is getting a huge in-house boost with forward Tristan Clark, the team's second-leading scorer last season, coming back from a midseason injury that cost him more than half of the 2018-19 season. How Baylor managed to finish in the top half of the league and punch a ticket to the Big Dance remains remarkable. Clark's the crown jewel of a returning bunch of productive players that includes Mark Vital and Devonte Bandoo.|
|The story of Shaka Smart's tenure at Texas, in one offseason: the team's top three scorers from last season are gone. Only this year, unlike others, the expectation is that remaining talent on campus is capable of exceeding expectations. Though UT missed the NCAAs last season, it finished the season strong with an NIT championship to give the 'Horns some momentum leading into 2019.|
|Two words: Tyrese Haliburton. The rising sophomore point guard is generating all sorts of buzz after a strong showing with Team USA this summer. He'll take over the Cyclones' offense after a freshman season that saw him shoot 43.4% from 3-point range in a limited role while ranking second nationally in assist/turnover ratio. With four of the team's top five scorers gone, Haliburton and Colorado State transfer Prentiss Nixon should be in line to shoulder huge loads for a rebuilt ISU roster.|
|Between myriad defections last season, Oklahoma State got so desperate for warm bodies it had to hold walk-on tryouts in the middle of Big 12 play. No such desperation should be needed this season — at least not yet. The Cowboys return their top three scorers, enroll a five-man top-25 recruiting class, and bring in UMass graduate transfer Jonathan Laurent to give the team another floor-spacing 3-point shooter.|
|Bob Huggins is in the midst of a rebuild after losing his top three scorers, but between rising sophomore Derek Culver and freshman Oscar Tshiebwe, he's got the frontcourt many within the league should envy. Now he just needs to bubble-wrap them. Last season's 15-win campaign was marred by injuries, leading to the program's worst season since 2012-13. If healthy, Huggins' Mountaineers are a mortal lock to rebound back to the mean as a top-five team in the conference. Look for Junior College All-American transfer Sean McNeil to play a big role in that regression.|
|After exceeding expectations and winning a slice of the Big 12 regular season last year, K-State coach Bruce Weber has his work cut out this season as he looks to replace the team's top three scorers. Weber will look to senior forward Xavier Sneed to take on a bigger role as well as Makol Mawien, who was thrust into a big role as Dean Wade dealt with lingering injuries last season.|
|The word "rebuild" doesn't quite do justice to what OU underwent this offseason. The Sooners bring in eight new faces after a 20-win season led by top-50 point guard De'Vion Harmon. Harmon joins an OU backcourt filled with promise and youth that should feature rising sophomore Jamal Bieniemy, who flashed potential as a star last season during his freshman campaign.|
|Nine players that began the 2018-19 season on TCU's roster are gone, and entering the 2019-20 season, there are nine newcomers on the roster between traditional transfers, graduate transfers and incoming freshmen. That type of turnover usually doesn't bode well. But Jamie Dixon returns one of the most underrated guards in the league in Desmond Bane, who should steady a moving ship and provide direction for an inexperienced batch of newcomers.|
Big 12 expert picks
|Gary Parrish||Matt Norlander||Jerry Palm||Kyle Boone||Chip Patterson|
|2.||Texas Tech||Texas Tech||Texas Tech||Baylor||Texas Tech|
|4.||Texas||Texas||Oklahoma St.||Texas Tech||Iowa St.|
|5.||W. Virginia||W. Virginia||Texas||W. Virginia||Texas|
|6.||Oklahoma St.||Iowa St.||Kansas St.||Kansas St.||Oklahoma|
|7.||Oklahoma||Kansas St.||Iowa St.||Texas||Oklahoma St.|
|8.||Iowa St.||Oklahoma St.||Oklahoma||Oklahoma St.||W. Virginia|
|9.||Kansas St.||Oklahoma||W. Virginia||Oklahoma||Kansas St.|