For the second consecutive year, Kansas is the preseason favorite to win the conference title in a vote of the league's head coaches. The Jayhawks received 10 of 12 possible first-place votes in polling for the 2007-08 season. The 2007 Big 12 Champions have been picked to win nine times overall, including a media selection prior to the Big 12's first year in 1996-97. KU is one of two Big 12 schools that have gone on to win the conference championship after being dubbed No. 1 in the preseason voting. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.
Kansas welcomes back four starters from last season, returning 84.6 percent of its scoring overall. The Jayhawks held 37 of 38 opponents under 50 percent shooting last year. A big part of the KU defense is sophomore Darrell Arthur. The forward recorded 56 blocks a year ago. The number was the second-most by a Kansas freshman. Junior Brandon Rush also returns to the Jayhawk sidelines after averaging 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds during the `06-07 season.
Texas came in second with 105 points and will return four starters, led by sophomore D.J. Augustin. The guard dished out 233 assists a year ago, the third-best mark by a Big 12 freshman. Junior guard A.J. Abrams and sophomore forward Damion James also return for the Longhorns. Abrams set a Big 12 record last season with 120 field goals made, while James tallied 253 boards and 42 blocks.
Texas A&M earned the other two first-place votes and was picked third with 101 points. The Aggies are coming off their winningest season in school history (27-9) and will be led by senior Joseph Jones and junior Josh Carter. Kansas State received its highest placement ever in the preseason tally, coming in fourth. The Wildcats previous best was fifth before the 2006-07 season. KSU returns only two starters but has one of the nation's best recruiting classes, including the No. 1 overall prospect in Michael Beasley.
Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were next in the preseason selections with mentors Mike Anderson (Missouri), Jeff Capel (Oklahoma) and Sean Sutton (Oklahoma State) returning for their second year of Big 12 action. Tech head coach Bob Knight became the all-time winningest Division I coach last season with 890 victories. Baylor, Nebraska, Iowa State and Colorado round out the poll.
The Big 12 season gets underway on Thursday, November 8 as Oklahoma hosts first round action in the 2K College Hoops Classic. Conference play begins Saturday, January 12 with six league contests.
The Big 12 Conference will hold its preseason media days on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 16-17 in Kansas City - site of the 2008 Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championships.