Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big 12: November hoops

November is the silly season in college hoops. On one hand, you have schools feasting on foes with directions in their names (see Baylor and Kansas State) and, on the other, you have schools participating in high profile tournaments and "classics" who quickly find out how they stack up against quality competition (see Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State.)

Let's break down what we've found out...and, what we still don't know.

- Kansas: A week ago, Kansas was humbled in the second half against a highly talented Kentucky. Last night, KU proved that they belonged by going toe-to-toe with Duke, in a March tournament-like atmosphere, before losing late. What we know: Kansas' identity will be with its tough defense and ability to penetrate and dish. What we don't know: Will Kansas' bench mature enough to provide at least a few quality minutes in big games? Last night, KU's reserves played 30 minutes yet netted zero points, zero rebounds and zero assists.

- Missouri: Who saw this coming? Missouri played discipline basketball, on both ends of the court, in blowing away Notre Dame and California to win the CBE Classic. Yes, the Tigers will ultimately miss Lawrence Bowers but, for now, they look to be a definite contender in the Big 12. What we know: MU's guards are quick, can shoot and have matured into potentially the best backcourt in the conference. What we don't know: Will the lack of bigs, beyond Ricardo Ratliffe, equate to a top four finish in the Big 12?

- Baylor: We know the Bears are talented. But, seriously, Baylor plays no one of note until a December 17 visit to BYU. What we know: We don't--play somebody!

- Texas: The Longhorns are 2-2 after back-to-back losses to Oregon State and North Carolina State. What we know: J'Covan Brown will contend for player-of-the-year honors in the conference.

- Oklahoma State: Highly touted freshman LeBryan Nash is only shooting at a .370 clip and the Cowboys looked bad last night against Stanford.

- Texas A&M: A&M (3-1) lost to the only quality team--Mississippi State--that they've played to date. What we don't know: I'm still trying to figure out why the Aggies were picked third in the league, behind KU and Baylor.

- Kansas State: The Wildcats have played three games--all wins--against nobodies. What we know: Let's simply call this an "incomplete" grade, shall we?

What's coming up of note:

- Missouri faces Villanova on December 6 in Columbia.

- Bob Huggins returns to Manhattan on December 8 as West Virginia takes on Kansas State.

- KU continues its killer schedule against #3 Ohio State on December 10, in Lawrence.

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