Big 12 Conference Call: December 6 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 6th, 2012

Welcome to our second installment of the Big 12 Conference Call here on the microsite. Danny (@dspewak), Kory (@Kory_Carpenter) and Nate (@natekotisso) are back to answer the tough questions in the league, and lord knows there’s plenty of them. Today, they’ll discuss Baylor’s struggles, Colorado’s return to Allen Fieldhouse, sixth man of the year as of now and much more. 

As Drunk Joe Namath would say, Big 12 basketball is “struh-guh-ling.”

Here are this week’s five questions:

  1. The Big 12 has only two teams ranked in the AP and coaches’ polls. What do we make of this?
  2. Colorado will make its first return to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday since leaving for the Pac-12. Will the Buffs beat KU?
  3. Which Baylor team are we going to see more of this season, the team that lost to College of Charleston and Northwestern at home or the team that ended Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak?
  4. If you had to pick a sixth man of the year right now, who would it be?
  5. If there was a non-conference game with a Big 12 team you’d like to see live, which would it be?

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1. The Big 12 has only two teams ranked in the AP and coaches’ polls. What do we make of this?

  • Danny Spewak: It’s been a difficult first few weeks for the Big 12. Texas has crashed and burned without Myck Kabongo. Baylor, save for that win at struggling Kentucky, has been perplexing. Kansas State had only one attempt to prove itself on a major stage, and it lost to Michigan by double-digits. At this point, you’ve had only one team overachieve (Oklahoma State) and really only one team (Kansas) play to expectations. Thus, two representatives in the Top 25.
  • Kory Carpenter: Baylor would have been firmly in the Top 25 had they not lost to the College of Charleston. Coupled with the losses to Colorado and Northwestern and it doesn’t make up for the nice win over Kentucky on the road. No one else on the outside of the Top 25 has beaten a team with a pulse. Oklahoma’s best win is over an awful West Virginia team, Kansas State’s crowning jewel is a three-point win over Delaware, and Iowa State lost to the two ranked teams they’ve played. Until the resumes improve, there’s no reason any of the other eight teams should be ranked.
  • Nate Kotisso: You guys hit the nail on the head. Other than Oklahoma State, the Big 12 has floundered in important non-conference games. Watching Baylor defeat Kentucky on Saturday was more about UK losing than the Bears winning. Kentucky had 16 more offensive rebounds and turned the ball over fewer times than Baylor, yet their horrid shooting lost the game. K-State still has tests coming later in the month and with Rodney McGruder playing better, there’s a chance for them to slide into the rankings before New Year’s. Oklahoma is 6-2 but they have yet to register an impressive win outside of West Virginia. And geez the Mountaineers are a whole other story. But you gotta stay positive, you guys.

2. Colorado will make its first return to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday since leaving for the Pac-12. Will the Buffs beat KU?

  • DS: Nobody fares well in Allen Fieldhouse — nobody — but Colorado seemed to take the brunt of the pain when it played in the Big 12. There was a 26-point loss in Lawrence in 2011, a 20-point loss in 2010, and, well, you get the drift. But you’ve got to remember, those two losses occurred when Kansas was ranked number one in the nation. It’s more of an even matchup now that Tad Boyle has continued to grow his program, and Kansas is no longer at the top of the national perch. It might be a ballgame. Andre Roberson and his rebounding ability headlined this team’s expectations during the preseason, but we’re starting to see Spencer Dinwiddie emerge as one of the more underrated point guards in college basketball. He’s now the team’s leading scorer, too, in addition to his disruptive defensive abilities with a 6’4” frame. Still, I wouldn’t worry about this Kansas team at home, even though the Jayhawks don’t appear to have reached anywhere near their full potential yet. It’s quite interesting, though, that Bill Self scheduled a game against former Big 12 foe Colorado, but still does not appear to want to play that one school to the east. Politics, politics, politics, people.
  • KC: The win over Baylor makes this question interesting, but no. There isn’t a team in the country that I’d predict to beat Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, and Colorado doesn’t have the manpower to make me change my mind, especially after needing two overtimes to beat Texas Southern before losing to Wyoming last week. The Jayhawks haven’t played great yet and have had a few scares at home early this season, but with a real opponent (and former conference mate) coming to town, the Fieldhouse should be loud and the Jayhawks should be ready.
  • NK: Fine then, I’ll have to be the crazy guy. I believe Colorado will beat Kansas on Saturday. Bill Self has been vocal with the media about how badly his guards have been struggling on the defensive end and quick guards like Dinwiddie and Askia Booker aren’t exactly going to put Self’s fears to bed. Roberson is as consistent a player as there is in college basketball. The Buffs are the best team KU has will have faced all year with wins over Dayton, Baylor, Murray State and Colorado State already. I watched the Kansas-San Jose State game and seeing the Spartans cut a 24-point lead to seven in the Phog was real disconcerting to me. Colorado’s got the goods to pull the upset.

Bill Self will have his hands full with Colorado on Saturday

3. Which Baylor team are we going to see more of this season, the team that lost to College of Charleston and Northwestern at home or the team that ended Kentucky’s 55-game home win streak?

  • DS: Both. Probably on alternating nights. Lose to CoC, beat Kentucky in Rupp, get outrebounded at home by 13 to Northwestern and lose. Although I’m sure we can all agree that Baylor’s win this weekend in Lexington is probably more of a product of Kentucky’s struggles, it’s already maddening to see a team of Scott Drew’s caliber play so poorly in November and December.
  • KC: The answer is somewhere in the middle, and the blame goes to Scott Drew. He recruits some of the best players in the country then turns around and plays a zone. It would infuriate me if I was a Baylor fan. Jim Boeheim at Syracuse proved he can make a zone work. Drew hasn’t, yet he continues to box his athletes in on defense, and its a reason I’ll never be able to trust his teams to live up to their potential.
  • NK: I just don’t know. And this is a team that coaches and experts picked to finish second in the league? It’s really frustrating to watch and I have no ties to Baylor whatsoever. Kory, you’re absolutely right about Baylor teams not reaching their potential. It’s almost like Baylor is becoming (or already is) Texas, version 2.0. Maddening to say the least.

4. If you had to pick a sixth man of the year right now, who would it be?

  • DS: I think it’s Phil Forte at Oklahoma State. He’s averaging about 27 minutes per game, so it’s difficult to call him a Sixth Man in some sense, but it’s obvious we need to realize this guy is more than just Marcus Smart’s high school teammate. He came here because he can shoot the heck out of the ball. Forgetting for a moment his 1-10 performance from beyond the arc in a loss to Virginia Tech (every frosh gets one pass a year, right?), he’s looked savvy from three for the most part. And his game is more than that, too. That’s what I was most impressed by when I saw him put up 17 on North Carolina State. He made four threes, but he was aggressive getting to the basket and looked confident in all facets of the game.
  • KC: I’ll go with Georges Niang, the freshman forward from Iowa State. He’s averaging 10.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG and opened the season with four straight double-figure scoring nights.
  • NK: Georges Niang is my guy as well. Check out the comparison Fran Fraschilla made to Niang. Would be poetic justice for Cyclone fans.

Baylor: what a disappointment so far.

5. If there was a non-conference game with a Big 12 team you’d like to see live, which would it be?

  • DS: I’d love to be at Ohio State/Kansas on December 22. Can we call it a budding rivalry yet?
  • KC: Gonzaga at Oklahoma State on New Year’s Eve would be a fun game to see live. The Zags are 8-0 and 10th in the country while Oklahoma State has one of the best freshmen in the country — Marcus Smart — running the team. Gonzaga will have played seven power conference teams before traveling to Stillwater so they won’t be intimidated by the Cowboys. This is also assuming Gallagher-Iba Arena is lively for a game against two ranked teams and not the funeral parlor I saw last season against Kansas.
  • NK: Before the season started, I bought tickets to North Carolina-Texas in Austin and Texas-Baylor in Waco. Now, I am ever-so-close to setting them on fire but Gonzaga-Oklahoma State? On New Year’s Eve? #LobStilly will be jumpin.
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