Over half of the Big 12 Conference basketball teams have reasonable aspirations of making it to the "Big Dance", otherwise known as the NCAA Championship Tournament. But, only one team seems to have that same level of realistic expectation of winning the Big 12 Conference basketball title itself.
So, if all prognostications prove accurate, Kansas University will Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk to their 13th consecutive conference crown. But, there is a trio of Big 12 basketball squads who do have slim hopes of derailing the Jayhawk hoops locomotive. Here are a few thoughts on how either West Virginia, Texas, or Baylor Universities might have a chance to end the Kansas domination before it gets to 13.
One of the biggest problems for any of the teams trying to supplant KU from the top spot is their legendary mystic. The Bill Self coached Jayhawks have a renowned and seeming insurmountable conference history that has kept Kansas labeled as the de facto conference champion even before the first tip-off to the season. This, mind you, is the same school that touts having their first coach being the inventor of the game Dr. James Naismith, plus the legendary original Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain.
For the Mountaineers to bring the conference title back to Morgantown, West Virginia, they will have to play the vigilante style of Bobby Huggins basketball. Coach Huggins – Huggy Bear to those who love him – fuels an intensity level that is rarely rivaled on the NCAA basketball court. WVU has a team built to create havoc.
Havoc creates turnovers, and when the other team is forced to turn the ball over a lot, it's often the prescription for a victory. If WVU is going to have any chance to be the Big 12 champ, they must force numerous miscues by their opponents and do it every single game.
Rebounding is a key to winning in basketball. Baylor has a veracious frontline of giants that rebound the ball as well as any team in college basketball. For the Baylor Bears to envision any realistic idea that they could claim the 2016-2017 Big 12 hoops crown, the must rebound the basketball at record-breaking numbers.
Baylor shipped their #1 scorer from last season off to the professional ranks, so their scoring prowess will be down. They must reduce their opposition puts up on the scoreboard to win games, and to do that they will need to rebound ferociously.
Texas is the last team with any likelihood of stopping the Jayhawk run. In the same mold as Baylor, the Longhorns watched a great deal of their offensive prowess navigate to the NBA. When the points are harder to come by, like with tenacious rebounding, defense is the next best solution.
Texas has a lot of length on the Shaka Smart coached team, with at least 10 defensive specialists to plug into the lineup at any time in the game. Depth is important to defense, and the ability of Texas to regularly rotate fresh legs onto the court may give them enough of a team defensive boost to steal a number of games.
The real story is still the talent laden Kansas University Jayhawks. The 2016-17 version sports tall and talented players who play tenacious defense, rebound the wall, and hawk their opponents into making mistakes.
Maybe if Texas, Baylor, and West Virginia could mesh together each team's individual strengths, they might have a shot at stealing the title. But, considering the trend of the last decade, odds are really good for a 13th straight Jayhawk Big 12 basketball championship. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!