A team to review from last year...
The Longhorns began the season 17-0 and national championship contenders. The second half of the season was a huge disappointment. Rick Barnes' squad stumbled to a 7-10 record. However, the bad record can be largely attributed to the strength of the Big 12. Of the 10 losses, seven were to teams who finished in the KenPom top 20. The tempo free gods judged the Longhorns favorably when it was all said and done. They finished with the 25th ranked offense and defense. Texas was a very solid team, but just not the top five team that was perceived early in the season.
A flaw to consider
Missouri's defensive rebounding
Mizzou had a top 15 defense last season despite not being able to end possessions. Opponents grabbed offensive rebounds on 37.7% of shots. Graduate Keith Ramsey was on of the better players on the boards for the Tigers. Of course, Missouri's identity is to get up and force turnovers. However, they can make their life a lot easier by ending possessions that don't end in turnovers at a higher rate.
A team that will get more attention than their body of work merits...
Kansas is going to get tons of attention pretty much regardless of the particular year. Kansas will be Big 12 contenders yet again this season. However, so will non-traditional college basketball powers like Kansas St., Baylor, and Missouri. Despite losing Collins, Aldrich, and Henry, the Jayhawks have been given the best odds of the Big 12 teams to win a national championship. Kansas could very likely live up to these expectations, but is just one of several teams in the Big 12 contending for a league title. (Note: Josh Selby update)
A team that will get less attention than their body of work merits...
Last season, Colorado was great on offense and terrible on defense. The Buffaloes shot the ball extremely well, but so did their opponents. This season, almost all the team is back. Colorado should remain above average offensively in the Big 12. If the defense can improve, Colorado will be knocking on the door of the NCAA Tournament. Whether or not that "if" becomes a reality is something to watch closely.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
No surprise here: Jacob Pullen is good. The departure of Denis Clemente should only increase Pullen's importance to K State. Pullen does most things right. He shoots it well from three, gets to the line (and makes free throws), and has a good assist to turnover ratio. Pullen's efficiency did come a little out of nowhere from 2008-9 to 2009-10. Assuming he maintains last year's numbers, Pullen will be the man once again in Manhattan.
Best of the Rest:
1) LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
2) Marcus Morris, Kansas
3) Alec Burks, Colorado
4) Corey Higgins, Colorado
5) John Roberson, Texas Tech
6) Laurence Bowers, Missouri
BREAKOUT PLAYER: David Loubeau, Texas A&M
The Big 12 is full of potential breakout candidates. Loubeau is one of the best out of all of them. The 6'9" rising junior showed how effective he could be last season for A&M. Loubeau got decent minutes, but will surely see an increase this season. Additionally, Loubeau will be called on to take a bigger role in the offense with Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis gone.
Best of the Rest:
1) Jordan Hamilton, Texas
2) Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon, Missouri
3) Matt Pilgrim, Oklahoma State
4) David Tairu, Texas Tech
5) Christian Standhardinger, Nebraska
6) Markieff Morris, Kansas