The Big 12 Roundtable runs its weekly three-man-weave – hey; basketball starts this week – to cover the hot topics in the conference. Check out what beat writers Sean Cordy, Garrett Kroeger and Wendell Barnhouse have to say.
- It’s a three-team race for the Big 12 title. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia – who ya got?
Sean: It’s down to Bedlam. I think both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma can go undefeated until their final meeting in Norman for what would be the de facto championship game. That said, it’s the Sooners’ conference to lose. After a slow start, they look like a well-oiled machine that no defense will be able to stop. Short answer, but it’s all that needs to be said.
Garrett: The winner of the conference will be determined on Nov. 19 in Morgantown when Oklahoma visits West Virginia. The Sooners have looked like the team to beat in the conference. However, I thoroughly believe the Mountaineers are the best team Oklahoma will have faced since Ohio State. Whichever team walks out of Morgantown victorious will win the Big 12.
Wendell: I have to go with Sean for this one. Bedlam has become the Big 12’s most significant rivalry game in terms of conference supremacy. (Texas, until you get your act together, the Red River Rivalry game with Oklahoma is just an excuse to eat corn dogs at the State Fair.) As Garrett mentioned, the Sooners will have to deal with a road trip to Morgantown in order to make their game with Oklahoma State in Norman a winner-take-all for the conference title.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, the battle for the basement takes place in Lawrence between Iowa State and Kansas. Who wins and why?
Wendell: Only one game on the FBS schedule this week matches two teams that each have just one victory. Yep, Iowa State at Kansas in Lawrence. The Jayhawks have shown improvement, but so have the Cyclones. Considering that Iowa State’s program entered the season in better shape, the edge goes to the visitors in this one. Kansas fans are going to be glad Rhode Island was scheduled for the season opener.
Garrett: Iowa State will defeat Kansas and avoid being at the bottom of the Big 12. The reason: Despite being 1-8, the Cyclones are better than that record. They have hung with the likes of Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State–Kansas didn’t do that. Iowa State will walk out of Lawrence with a victory, not embarrassment.
Sean: While I typically don’t like using the transitive property…
In looking at their shared matchups, the clear winner is Iowa State. The only game Kansas has been competitive in was against TCU. Iowa State had three games that came down to a single possession and actually held its own against Oklahoma last week. ISU has much more consistent play under center with Jacob Park coming into his own, beating out Joel Lanning for the job. The Jayhawks don’t have that security with their QB carousel.
- Basketball season starts this week. Considering the dud that the football season has been, what are few of the reasons why you’re looking forward to hoops?
Garrett: There is a lot of turnover in this conference. Pretty much every team lost somebody significant. Oklahoma lost Buddy Hield, Kansas doesn’t have Perry Ellis anymore, and Iowa State said goodbye to legend Georges Niang. I am looking forward to seeing which player emerges as the best in the conference. Maybe Iowa State’s Monte Morris? Or Kansas freshman Josh Jackson? Or Oklahoma State sophomore Jawun Evans?
Wendell: Maybe basketball will provide some solace and respect for the Big 12, because football sure has failed in those regards. Kansas appears too loaded and the rest of the league too balanced. Only a presidential election result would be more shocking if the Jayhawks fail to win their 13th consecutive title. For the basketball season to be a success, Kansas needs at minimum a berth in the national championship game. Winning the Big 12’s first national title in hoops since KU in 2008 would provide the conference a boost in prestige.
Sean: It feels like a cop-out to say Kansas winning the title for the 13th straight season, but it really isn’t. How often do we see a program this dominant for this amount of time? Considering 13 hasn’t been done since UCLA under John Wooden, it’s not often. What’s more telling about Bill Self’s dynasty is how well-rounded the conference has become, providing the Jayhawks stiff competition. We could even see TCU cause a stir with Jamie Dixon taking charge. It should be another great Big 12 season.