Big 12 Wrap-Up and Early 2018-19 Outlook

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 10th, 2018

Despite Villanova beating three Big 12 teams in decisive fashion on its way to the national title, the 2017-18 campaign was another strong one for the league. Here are some takeaways from the year that was and a handful of early thoughts on the main storylines as summer draws near.

Kansas was no match for Villanova’s three-point barrage, but the Big 12 still enjoyed a successful postseason. (Bob Donnan/USA Today)

  • The league began the process of rehabilitating its March reputation. After some disappointing results in the last few NCAA Tournaments, the Big 12 took a step forward this year in sending four teams to the Sweet Sixteen, three teams to the Elite Eight and one to the Final Four. Perhaps most notable was Kansas State‘s head-turning voyage to the Elite Eight, which put Bruce Weber on steadier ground from a job security perspective entering next season. We also watched Texas Tech break into the second weekend with star guard Keenan Evans playing on a broken toe, and West Virginia gave Villanova the toughest game of the Wildcats’ championship run. The league’s national perception won’t change significantly until a team other than Kansas makes the Final Four, but Villanova’s victory over the Jayhawks became easier to swallow when they cut down the nets last Monday night in San Antonio. All told, the conference logged one of its best postseason runs in recent years.
  • What will Kansas do with its last scholarship? When the buzzer sounded on their national semifinal loss to Villanova, the Jayhawks were already one over the scholarship limit for the 2018-19 season. That potential dilemma, however, worked itself out when Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick both opted to forgo their remaining eligibility and pursue professional careers. With one scholarship now available, fans can expect Kansas to ramp up its pursuit of five-star wing Romeo Langford to round out its roster, but the Jayhawks will likely be the preseason #1 team in the country regardless of what happens on that front. If Langford signs elsewhere, Kansas could scour the graduate transfer market for some outside shooting to pick up some of the slack left by Newman and Vick as well as the graduations of Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham. In that light, bringing in a proven three-point threat from the existing market seems to make good sense unless Udoka Azubuike surprises the college basketball world by declaring and staying in the 2018 NBA Draft.

  • Kansas State is in for an interesting summer. If I had to venture a guess, Barry Brown will return to Manhattan next season. While you don’t have to be a potential lottery selection or even a first-round prospect to carve out a nice professional career, Brown has the potential to be next in a long line of unheralded guards who turned into all-conference seniors under Bruce Weber. His return would also ensure that Kansas State owned the league’s best one-two punch alongside Dean Wade next season. Other stories worth following in this program are how athletic director Gene Taylor rewards Weber for his strong finish, the recent addition of coveted junior college rebounder Austin Trice, and whether the Wildcats and Wichita State hammer out a home-and-home series.
  • What will a rebuilding year at West Virginia look like? “Press Virginia” just completed its first full recruiting cycle, which means that next season will give us the first glimpse of what a rebuilding year in Bob Huggins‘ system looks like. The personnel situation in Morgantown is more or less settled, but the big question facing the Mountaineers will be how quickly they can regain their form after losing seniors Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles. Guards James Bolden and Chase Harler gained valuable experience this year, and Brandon Knapper will have had a season to pick up the system after redshirting last season, but this team will have a lot of ground to make up if they are to stay in the mix among the teams at the top of the Big 12 standings.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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