Welcome to the HCS Big 12 basketball mailbag, our seventh of the 2021-22 Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball season.
This mailbag is for all you basketball junkies out there who root for a Big 12 school that not only have questions about your team but other teams in the conference. So, join me, grab your favorite drink (I’m back to the Tito’s and soda), and relax as I answer all your Big 12 questions.
For those interested, I will send out a tweet (@PostinsPostcard) Wednesday night and you’ll have until Thursday at 5 PM CT to send in your questions to be answered every Friday right here at Heartland College Sports. And our site owner, Pete Mundo, will solicit questions on our Facebook page.
I want to thank each one of you who submitted a question this week and for those of you that are reading. For future reference, feel free to answer questions about men’s and women’s basketball, as we’ve added women’s Big 12 coverage to our HCS content this season.
So many great questions and we have time for four.
Egap Snivek on Facebook asks: As of today, what are your picks for First- and Second-Team All-Big 12? We all know Agbaji is (Player of the Year), but any other awards that might be a surprise?
Well, I’d hate to steal my own thunder, you know? I was just talking with Pete Mundo today and we agreed that we’ll start dropping our men’s and women’s postseason honors on Sunday, March 6. And, with just a few weeks left, I would imagine that the picks I disclose here might not change much. So I’m going to keep the teams to myself for now.
Now, as for award surprises? On the men’s side, I’m curious to see who wins Newcomer of the Year, because it’s a crowded field, led by Texas Tech forward Bryson Williams, Texas forward Timmy Allen, and Iowa State guard Izaiah Brockington. Did I miss anyone? Probably. But with the wealth of great transfers that came to the Big 12, the Newcomer award could end up in a tie, depending upon how the coaches vote.
On the women’s side, the most competitive award is going to be Freshman of the Year. To me, it’s clearly down to Texas guard Rori Harmon and Kansas State guard Serena Sundell. Both have had great years and both have been named Freshman of the Week multiple times. That will be one of my most difficult decisions.
Patrick Waldorf on Facebook asks: Any more on why Texas big man (Tre Mitchell) taking indefinite leave of absence?
None here, and I’d hate to speculate. What I thought was interesting was that head coach Chris Beard went out of his way to explain what the reasons WEREN’T. Beard told Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman that Mitchell had not broken team rules, university rules, or the law and that it had nothing to do with COVID-19. Beard would only say it was a personal matter.
So it stays that way for now. I’m hoping that Mitchell is back soon.
Lott Hall on Facebook asks: Looking at final schedules, including COVID make-up games, who wins their way into the tournament and who loses their way out?
Let’s assume that ESPN’s Bracketology from Tuesday is the ‘gospel’ for now. I think four teams are solidly in. The three that aren’t are Iowa State, Oklahoma, and TCU. The bubble team is Kansas State.
I think Iowa State ultimately makes it because of its Quad 1 wins, plus a remaining schedule filled with unranked teams. OU also has a reasonable schedule.
TCU is the one most likely to play its way out. The Horned Frogs have seven games left, five of which are against ranked teams — including two against Kansas. Only two games with West Virginia pit TCU against an unranked team. The Horned Frogs could easily be short of 20 wins by the Big 12 Tournament.
The team most likely to play its way in is Kansas State, obviously. It’s not just that the Wildcats are on the bubble right now. It’s their remaining schedule. The Wildcats still have Kansas and Texas Tech, both on the road. But with games against Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma, the Wildcats have the potential to boost their resume to 17 wins going into Kansas City, and you can’t rule out a scenario where they win two games in the Big 12 Tournament and improve their case.
As for the women, I don’t believe any team can play its way in or out. The six teams projected to reach the tournament are going to get there. The four teams that are not projected are, well, not.
Chuck Stevens on Facebook asks: Will the Big 12 Tournament still be held in KC after the expansion? Do you see it moving every once in a while? Nashville? Maybe OKC or Dallas?
First things first — both the men’s and women’s tournaments are signed to remain in Kansas City through March of 2025. I’m sure the league could entertain the notion of rotating the event after the contract expires. But that tournament means a reported $15 million to the city, so KC will fight for it. But, as someone who has been to the event in Dallas, in Oklahoma City, and in Kansas City, my preference would be for the tournaments to remain in Kansas City. The set-up is great. Both venues are a short walk from each other. There’s plenty to do. And, the league’s best fan bases are close by. If I’m the Big 12, I wouldn’t mess with a good thing.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.