KU men’s basketball picked to win 14th-straight Big 12 regular-season title
Kansas begins its Big 12 title defense when the league schedule kicks off on Dec. 29
|Preseason Big 12 Coaches Poll|
|1. Kansas (9)|
|2. West Virginia (1)|
|7. Texas Tech|
|8. Kansas State|
|9. Iowa State|
|10. Oklahoma State|
IRVING, Texas – For the 16th time in the 22-year history of the Big 12, Kansas men’s basketball has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference regular-season championship as the league released its coaches’ preseason poll Thursday.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams in the poll and KU received a unanimous nine first-place votes and a total of 81 points. West Virginia was second in the poll receiving 71 points, followed by TCU (64). Three teams – Texas (49), Baylor (47) and Oklahoma (43) were clumped in spots 4-6, followed by Texas Tech (36), Kansas State (27), Iowa State (22) and Oklahoma State (10).
Kansas has won, or tied for, 17 of the 21 Big 12 regular-season titles, including the last 13 consecutive, a streak which ranks tied for first all-time in NCAA Division I history with UCLA (1967-79).
Preseason top-5 in most publications, Kansas returns two starters and six letterwinners from last season’s 31-5 team, which won the Big 12 race with a 16-2 conference record. Senior guards Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk return as regular starters, while junior guard Lagerald Vick was also in the rotation with six starts. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike had six starts in his 11 games played in 2016-17 before an injury ended his 2016-17 season.
Expect to see returning sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot’s minutes increase. Redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman, who sat out last year after transferring from Mississippi State, will play a significant role as will guards Marcus Garrett and Sam Cunliffe and forward Billy Preston. Garrett and Preston are freshmen, while Cunliffe is a sophomore who will sit out the fall semester after transferring from Arizona State last December. Last season, Garrett was the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year, while Preston became KU’s 42nd McDonald’s All-American.
Graham is the 2017-18 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, as selected by the league coaches, while Newman is the league’s preseason newcomer of the year. Graham was a preseason all-conference first-team selection while Newman and Mykhailiuk were on the preseason league honorable mention team. Additionally, Graham is one of 20 listed on the preseason Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Watch List, an award won by KU’s Frank Mason III in 2016-17. Newman is one of 20 listed on the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Watch List entering 2017-18.
Historically, the preseason favorite has gone on to finish first in the regular season 14 times, which does not include 1996-9,7 as a coaches’ poll was not conducted. Kansas has been the preseason favorite in 13 of its 17 Big 12 regular-season titles, missing 1996-97 (no poll), 2005-06 (third) and 2010-11 (second).
2017-18 Big 12 Coaches’ Preseason Poll
Place. School (first-place votes) – total points
1. KANSAS (9) – 81
2. West Virginia (1) – 71
3. TCU – 64
4. Texas – 49
5. Baylor – 47
6. Oklahoma – 43
7. Texas Tech – 36
8. Kansas State – 27
9. Iowa State – 22
10. Oklahoma State – 10
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