The Kansas Jayhawks are No. 1 in the Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings to open the 2021-22 basketball season. Our Power Rankings will appear every Monday during basketball season.
Where each team finished in last season’s Big 12 power rankings is in parenthesis.
1. KANSAS (3)
Kansas has four returning starters and as much depth as its had in the four years I’ve covered the conference for this site. The four returning starters (David McCormack, Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun) have at least two years of experience with the program. Transfer Remy Martin could lead the Big 12 in scoring. Jalen Coleman-Lands — who was at Iowa State last season — will be a big piece off the bench. Head coach Bill Self is flirting with playing 10 this season — and it doesn’t sound like the NCAA will be knocking on the door about those pesky Level I NCAA violations until after the season. Note: Wilson will miss the season’s first three games due to suspension.
2. TEXAS (4)
Chris Beard inherited two great guards from last season’s team — Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey. The rest of the team is brand new. While Marcus Carr should fit in nicely with Jones and Ramey in the backcourt, expect Beard to need some time to figure out the chemistry in the frontcourt, where the Longhorns lost three players to the NBA (Kai Jones, Greg Brown III and Jericho Sims). The Longhorns have seven players who averaged at least 10 points per game last season. If they buy into what Beard wants on defense, well, this feels like it could be a Final Four team.
3. BAYLOR (1)
The Bears lost their top four guards to either the NBA or the NFL. The Bears have some solid returning talent to build on in Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer, Flo Thamba and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. The loss of Langston Love in October will hurt the team’s depth. But that opens up more time for Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan, the Bears’ other two prized recruits. Plus, transfer guard James Akinjo will make an immediate impact. Head coach Scott Drew knows this team is a new animal. But the expectation is that this team is going to fight — and fight hard — to defend its national crown.
4. WEST VIRGINIA (5)
The Mountaineers return two of the best shooting guards in the conference in Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman. Between Kedrian Johnson and Malik Curry, WVU should have good point guard play. West Virginia has a pair of solid pieces in the frontcourt in Jalen Bridges and Gabe Osabuohein. Transfers Paul Palicap and Dimon Carrigan, along with holdover redshirt freshman Isaiah Cottrell, should give head coach Bob Huggins plenty of options as they try to unseat the presumed favorites in Kansas and Texas.
5. OKLAHOMA STATE (2)
The Cowboys had one loss from last year, and it’s a big one in Cade Cunningham, who is now with the Detroit Pistons. But last year’s team is largely intact and it’s talented, with five players that could end up in double figures by season’s end. Head coach Mike Boynton Jr. continues to score points on the recruiting trail. The big question now is how the NCAA Tournament ban will impact this team’s consistency this season — and whether the vast majority of this team will return next season to ‘stick it’ to the man.
6. TEXAS TECH (5)
Texas Tech is fortunate to have Terrence Shannon Jr., Kevin McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva back with the offseason revolving door after the departure of Beard to Texas. New head coach Mark Adams did better in the transfer portal as the offseason went on, with the transfer of Oral Roberts’ Kevin Obanor being the big get (Hampton’s Davion Warren might be the get we are not talking enough about, though). The turnover is the big reason why, for now, the Red Raiders are a notch below the Cowboys in these power rankings.
7. KANSAS STATE (8)
The Wildcats have a formidable young core in Nijel Pack, Davion Bradford and Selton Miguel. All three should be improved. The return of super-senior Mike McGuirl gives them scoring and leadership. Head coach Bruce Weber brought in talented and targeted transfers — guards Mark Smith and Markquis Nowell can shoot, while forward Ismael Massoud can score and rebound. The injury to Maximus Edwards doesn’t hurt too much because Weber did a good job of improving this team’s depth in the offseason.
8. OKLAHOMA (7)
The Sooners have a new head coach in Porter Moser and a relatively new roster. The return of guards Umoja Gibson and Elijah Harkless gives the Sooners a good 1-2 punch to start with. Duke transfer Jordan Goldwire gives them the point guard they need. Eastern Washington transfer Tanner Groves gives them the inside scorer they need. Beyond that, well, Moser has some things to work out. There’s talent, but the chemistry will take time to develop. That’s why they could start slowly this season.
9. TCU (9)
The only significant scorer from last year’s team is guard Mike Miles, and fortunately he’s already one of the best guards in the Big 12 after just one season. He may have to have a Desmond Bane-like season to keep this team afloat in Big 12 play. Before that, though, head coach Jamie Dixon has to sort through a suitcase full of transfers to figure out his rotation. Note — Eddie Lampkin is worth keeping tabs on. He’ll get first shot at replacing Kevin Samuel inside.
10. IOWA STATE (10)
At least TCU has a big-time returning scorer. The Cyclones don’t even have THAT doing into new head coach T.J. Otzelberger’s first season. Some late roster moves means the Cyclones only have 12 players on the team and it’s likely they’ll all see some playing time early. The good news is that the Cyclones will probably win more than the two games they won last season. The bad news is that Big 12 losing streak is likely to get longer. It’s going to be a steep climb for Otz in Ames.
Heartland College Sports Big 12 Basketball Preview
Top 25 Returning Players: No. 25 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua| No. 24 Christian Braun | No. 23 Rondel Walker | No. 22 Umoja Gibson | No. 21 Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe | No. 20 Nijel Pack | No. 19: Marcus Santos-Silva | No. 18 Mike McGuirl| No. 17 Jalen Bridges | No. 16 Kalib Boone | No. 15 Kevin McCullar | No. 14 Isaac Likekele | No. 13 Adam Flagler | No. 12 Jalen Coleman-Lands | No. 11 Sean McNeil | No. 10 Taz Sherman | No. 9 Matthew Mayer | No. 8 Jalen Wilson | No. 7 Courtney Ramey | No. 6 Mike Miles | No. 5 Avery Anderson III | No. 4 David McCormack | No. 3 Terrence Shannon Jr. | No. 2 Ochai Agbaji | No. 1 Andrew Jones
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.