Big 12 Power Rankings: A Lot More Than Kansas and Oklahoma State

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 19th, 2013

Five weeks.

That’s the amount of time we as a microsite have had to regret our preseason projected Big 12 standings. Like most everyone else, we pegged the league as a two-headed horse race between Kansas and Oklahoma State but with the Jayhawks’ recent struggles and the Cowboys looking good but not great, two more teams have emerged as viable contenders. Baylor and Iowa State have compiled early resumes on par with the preseason leaders and our first batch of power rankings reflect, perhaps, the deepest league in college basketball. Plus, four-headed horses are prettier to look at anyway.

Texas scored a huge road win over North Carolina on Wednesday night. (photo via USA Today Sports)

Texas scored a huge road win over North Carolina on Wednesday night. (photo via USA Today Sports)

1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 5 points)

Comment: “The Cowboys are 10-1 and their only loss, which came against #21 Memphis, doesn’t look as bad after the Tigers nearly knocked off Florida earlier this week.” – Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter)

T-2. Iowa State (8-0, 7 points)

Comment: “This year’s Cyclones are more than just a bunch of three-point shooters. Their fast pace, efficient offense and the fact that any of about seven different guys can emerge on any given night makes Iowa State one of the most entertaining watches in college hoops — unless you’re an opposing coach.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

T-2. Kansas (7-3, 7 points)

Comment: “Yes, the Jayhawks have three losses. But they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the country and have impressive wins over Duke and New Mexico.” – KC

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Making Big 12 Teams Better Before the Trade Deadline

Posted by Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter) on December 17th, 2013

When you consider high school recruiting and player transfers, college basketball already has its own form of free agency. But what if college hoops adopted another NBA mainstay and began trading its players back and forth, and what if the trade deadline was December 31, right before conference play begins? Here are a few such hypothetical trades that could help Big 12 teams improve heading into January. And no, Kansas State fans — you can’t trade Bruce Weber.

1. Texas forward Prince Ibeh for Oklahoma State guard Stevie Clark: The Longhorns are 160th in the country in three point shooting percentage at 34.0 percent. They have guards that can score off the dribble and have gotten good production out of big men Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes, so sending Ibeh to Oklahoma State wouldn’t kill their frontcourt. Stevie Clark would immediately become their best perimeter three-point shooter and would help spread the floor with his 43 percent shooting from deep. Oklahoma State has enough scoring potential in its backcourt already with Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash, and Ibeh would be the only player in the rotation over 6’8”, helping a small frontcourt match up against the bigger teams in the Big 12.

Stevie Clark

Stevie Clark Would Help the Longhorns’ Backcourt Significantly (NewsOK.com)

2. Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler and guard Jordan Woodard  for West Virginia guard Juwan Staten. West Virginia is in the bottom half of the Big 12 in rebounds per game, rebound margin, defensive rebounds, rebounding percentage, and blocked shots. Spangler would give them 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG, and a 65.6 percent shooting rate, making him the Mountaineers’ best post player. And while Woodard isn’t on the same level as Staten, he is still averaging 11.9 PPG and 4.9 APG and would complement fellow guard Eron Harris well. For Oklahoma, the Sooners would then have three of the top seven scorers in the Big 12 in Cameron Clark, Buddy Hield, and Staten, which would represent a go-for-broke type of deal for the Sooners. Losing Spangler would kill any interior presence they had, but it would make them one of the best perimeter teams in the league. They already play faster than all but seven teams in the country, so why not add another high-scoring guard, push the tempo even more, and see what happens?

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Evaluating the Best Coaching Jobs in the Big 12

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 16th, 2013

Will Leitch over at SportsOnEarth.com gave us his top 25 jobs in college basketball last week. And while there are a few things we would change (Wichita State and Temple seem too high, whereas Michigan seems too low), the list was close to perfect. His criteria was spot on too, as you can see here. Building upon his idea, we thought we would try our hand at a Big 12 list of college basketball jobs. As Leitch explains, the list isn’t necessarily a rundown of the best programs, although that often comes with having a top job. It instead comes down to a simple question: Where would we want to coach if we had our pick of the litter in the Big 12?

Bill Self has the best job in the Big 12, and it isn't close. (AP)

Bill Self has the best job in the Big 12, and it isn’t close. (AP)

  1. Kansas: Kansas was #2 overall on Leitch’s list and is undoubtedly the best job in the Big 12. It has one of the best fan bases in the country and the athletic department will pay a successful coach as much as anyone.
  2. Texas: Texas hasn’t been great in a while, but it is still a top 10 job nationally with seemingly unlimited resources at its disposal and the benefit of in-state recruiting. Fans can be apathetic with respect to hoops, which could be a plus or a minus depending on the success of the coach. Stress about basketball is rarely an issue in Austin, as Texas hoops fans don’t seem to mind a coach who puts together an occasional winner without ever really challenging for a national title. If you can take advantage of everything Texas has to offer as a head coach, you could set yourself up for your career. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 M5: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 10th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram states a case for the Big 12 being the best conference in the country. It’s still too early to make a definitive judgment of such nature, but there’s no denying that the league is off to a great start. Five teams are in the KenPom’s top 50, the conference has already clinched the Big 12-SEC Challenge with two games still to play, and its membership has a resume that includes wins over the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, BYU, and Dayton, with close losses to Michigan State and Villanova.
  2. In Division I college hoops, a short memory can be pivotal for both players and head coaches. Bruce Weber and Kansas State had a November to forget and are trying to make up for some early-season mishaps. There aren’t quite enough opportunities in the short term for the Wildcats to wash out the stench of the season’s first four weeks, but they can definitely make some headway when they square off against Gonzaga and George Washington later this month.
  3. When the media and blogosphere talk about the game’s injection of international talent over the last few years, more often than not, they’re referring to Canadian players. That isn’t the case in Morgantown, though, as Remi Dibo, a native of France, and Gary Browne, who calls Puerto Rico home, have played important roles for the Mountaineers early on. West Virginia is looking to make a return to the NCAA Tournament, and if they do, their foreign players will be a big reason why.
  4. TCU head coach Trent Johnson made it a point to take his team on the road early and often this season (they’ve played just two home games so far), but with a six-game homestand taking place over the next few weeks, he is hoping the toughness the Horned Frogs showed on the road lead to some wins. A tournament bid isn’t anywhere close to their radar, but it would be nice to see TCU have a more competitive go-round in its second season as members of the Big 12.
  5. When it comes to Big 12 accolades, Iowa State is sharing the love. Yesterday, forward Dustin Hogue became the third Cyclone to win conference Player Of The Week honors. Hogue averaged 19.5 points and 15.0 rebounds in Iowa State’s two wins last week. While he isn’t as pivotal to his team’s long-term success as Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang, or DeAndre Kane, his productivity just makes it that much harder for opposing coaches to game plan against the Cyclones.
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Big 12 Observations a Month Into the Season

Posted by Taylor Erickson on December 6th, 2013

With a month of action in the 2013-14 college basketball season now under our belts, the natural question becomes what exactly have we learned so far? We’ve been treated to some impressive performances, by both Big 12 teams and individuals, and a good number of less-than-impressive efforts. And while the buzz of Christmas season is firmly upon us, we’re also in the meat of a non-conference slate with several high-profile games involving the Big 12′s elite, allowing us further opportunity to draw more concrete conclusions. For the time being, though, four weeks into the season, here are a few observations worth keeping an eye on.

Smart showed he is human after a sub-par performance against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic (Credit: Orlando Sentinel).

Smart showed he is human after a sub-par performance against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic (Credit: Orlando Sentinel).

  • Marcus Smart is actually human after all.  Seriously, after exploding for 39 points against Memphis, Smart followed that up with 25- and 30-point performances against South Florida and Purdue, and left many in college basketball wondering if he had transformed into some sort of Space Jam Monstar in the offseason. The Oklahoma State point guard struggled in the Cowboys’ second match-up with Memphis, finishing with 12 points and two costly turnovers in a close game down the stretch. I’m not sure there’s another player in college basketball who seems to be better at harnessing his emotions in a positive way than Smart, so if there’s one thing worth betting on this season, it’s that the sophomore from Flower Mound, Texas, will find a way to bounce back quickly from a disappointing performance.

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Big 12 M5: Cyber Monday Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 2nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. It’s no secret that a good portion of the country (myself included) has marveled at the eye-popping numbers Marcus Smart has put up this season for Oklahoma State. But Run The Floor’s Michael Rogner offers the other side of Smart’s play and gives a compelling argument as to why he might not be the leading candidate for National Player of the Year honors. Going into Sunday morning and the Cowboys’ rematch with Memphis, Smart had two games where he turned the ball over five times. His line last night: 12 points, 4-of-13 from the field (0-of-5 from three), four assists and five turnovers. Rogner might be on to something here.
  2. TCU is having a tough time in its first year-plus in the Big 12, but some of those troubles are out of their control. Stefan Stevenson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports more injuries for the Horned Frogs in 2013-14. The most recent setback has to do with junior Amric Fields (12.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG), who suffered a broken hand in their loss to Harvard on Saturday and will be out for the next two to six weeks. This was only Fields’ fourth game of the year after missing all but three games last season due to knee surgery. Freshmen Brandon Parrish also suffered a sprained thumb in the Harvard loss and Hudson Price is recovering from a concussion. Both are listed as day-to-day. If Parrish and Price were both available for Thursday’s game vs. Mississippi State, Stevenson says TCU would have just seven scholarship players in uniform. If you’re a believer in a TCU turnaround, you’ll have to come to this realization: It’s hard to get a program off the ground if you don’t have the bodies to do it.
  3. Tonight’s Oklahoma-Mercer game is a homecoming of sorts for Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman. Hoffman, an Oklahoma City native, coached at Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he accumulated 243 wins over a long tenure there. Then Hoffman headed to Southern Nazarene in Bethany to be the women’s basketball coach, where he won 88 more games. He was also an assistant at Oklahoma for Kelvin Sampson from 2004-06. If you rewind to last season’s conference tournaments, his Mercer team lost in the Atlantic Sun title game and as a result introduced Florida Gulf Coast to the college basketball world. In five-plus seasons, Hoffman has won 104 games at Mercer but might have trouble getting No. 105 against a Sooners team averaging nearly 88 points per game.
  4. In the last two seasons, Iowa State has been seen as a solid team that usually got hot late in conference play to surge into NCAA Tournament at-large bids. This season has gone a little differently: they’re hot early. The Cyclones have already scored a home win over then top-10 Michigan and persevered in a tough road environment against BYU. Heading into their Big 12/SEC Challenge match-up vs Auburn, Iowa State has had a week since its last game and Fred Hoiberg has decided to add plays to an already bulky playbook. It must be a nightmare as a Big 12 coach to game plan for a brand new Iowa State team every year, but to also be thrown off balance with the new wrinkles they use. It’s probably a good thing the other nine Big 12 coaches have quite a bit of patience on the sidelines.
  5. Former Kansas State and Maryland assistant Dalonte Hill has decided last week to resign from his post on Mark Turgeon’s staff. In October, Hill was charged with his third DUI in five years, dating back to his tenure working under Frank Martin. He took a leave of absence from the Terrapins to “focus on his personal life,” according to Turgeon, and this is probably the best move for Hill. He feels that he must help himself before he can help others again, and who’s to say he can’t? Hill’s only 34 years old and he’ll have plenty of time to jump back  into the coaching ranks whenever he feels like he’s ready to. All the best to him going forward.
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Feast Week Mission Briefing: Washington State in the Old Spice Classic

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 28th, 2013

With Feast Week tipping off over the weekend, we’re outlining the roads ahead for prominent Pac-12 teams involved in neutral site events this week. 

What They’ve Done So Far: Washington State has looked awful in the first three weeks of the season. After sneaking by Cal State Bakersfield on opening night, the Cougars handled Lamar with ease nine days later. They then made the short trip over to Spokane to face Gonzaga, where they were easily dispatched by the Bulldogs, 90-74. That wasn’t the low point, however. That came three days later in front of a sleepy home crowd at Beasley Coliseum, where lowly TCU came in and pulled off a stunning 64-62 upset.

Things Have Gone Poorly In This Pivotal Season For Head Coach Ken Bone

Things Have Gone Poorly In This Pivotal Season For Head Coach Ken Bone

First Round Preview: Washington State meets Butler in Lake Buena Vista on Thursday morning. The Bulldogs have started the season at 4-0 and their best win came in overtime against Vanderbilt last week. They feature as balanced an attack on the offensive end of the floor as you’ll see in this field, with both forward Khyle Marshall and guard Kellen Dunham averaging 15.8 PPG a piece. Where the Cougars have been struggling is on offense, and junior Alex Barlow will prove to be a pesky pain in the side for their guards. He’s averaging 2.0 SPG and recorded three of them in Butler’s game at Ball State last Saturday.

Potential Later Round Match-up: If the bracket holds, it looks like the Cougs will face Purdue on Friday and Siena on Sunday. These aren’t exactly opponents that will provide a huge boost to the RPI, making a possible upset of Butler even more important. The Boilermakers have opened the season at 5-1, but that record doesn’t look as good when you consider the fact that the best win came against Eastern Illinois. Everything goes through sophomore guard Ronnie Johnson for head coach Matt Painter, who is scoring at a 13.8 PPG clip and averaging 4.4 APG. Siena has opened the year at 2-4 with wins over St. Bonaventure and Cornell. It faces Memphis in its opener at the Old Spice Classic.

Outlook: While two wins may be possible, in all honesty the Cougars should be expecting one. Until Ken Bone’s guys show some resemblance of an offense, it’s going to be best to keep the expectations low in Pullman.

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Pac-12 Roundup: Week Two

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on November 26th, 2013

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the second week of Pac-12 basketball.

Power Rankings (As voted upon by Connor Pelton, Andrew Murawa, and Adam Butler):  

  1. Arizona
  2. Oregon
  3. UCLA
  4. Arizona State
  5. Colorado
  6. California
  7. Stanford
  8. Oregon State
  9. Utah
  10. USC
  11. Washington
  12. Washington State
Jahii Carson Went Off On Tuesday In Las Vegas (Joe Nicholson)

Jahii Carson Went Off On Tuesday In Las Vegas. (Joe Nicholson)

Best Game – Arizona State @ UNLV: In a week where Harvard-Colorado was probably the second best Pac-12 game, Arizona State and UNLV provided greater drama. Intensity was high from the outset as both teams battled back and forth in the first 20 minutes. Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, and that was the margin when junior Deville Smith hit a jumper as time expired to put UNLV up by a score of 38-34. The crowd of over 12,000 was quieted with about five minutes remaining when the Sun Devils went on a critical 8-2 run to lead by seven, and Jahii Carson made sure the Devils stayed in front with a clutch jumper and two key free throws. When all was said and done, Carson had finished with 40 points and seven assists, a performance you may not see topped this year in conference play, and Arizona State left the Thomas & Mack Center with an 86-80 win to remain undefeated. The 5’10″ sophomore also made 14 of his 16 buckets from the field at the rim, a ridiculous stat for someone of his stature.

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Big 12 Basketball Twitter Must-Follows

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 18th, 2013

Where in the world would we be without the nonstop stream of information that is Twitter? If college basketball is your thing, and more specifically, if Big 12 college basketball is your thing, take a scroll through our list of Twitter must-follows for the conference, and ensure you’ll stay in-the-know by filling your feed with the content provided by these accounts.

If You Follow These Big Ten-Related Accounts, You'll Be Covered

If You Follow These Big 12-Related Accounts, You’ll Be Covered

Big 12 Conference

Baylor

Iowa State

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Big 12 M5: 11.13.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 13th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. West Virginia‘s lack of depth came back to bite them Tuesday afternoon as Virginia Tech overcame a 17-point deficit to top the MountaineersJuwan Staten played 39 minutes despite a ghastly 3-of-12 shooting day and fellow guard Eron Harris was allowed to log 38 minutes of his own while going 4-of-17 from the field. Five of the nine players that saw the floor for Bob Huggins tallied at least four fouls, compounding WVU’s issues. Despite having a future Hall Of Famer on its sideline, West Virginia could be facing a long winter for the second straight year. This will likely go down as a “bad loss” in the tournament committee’s mind, and there aren’t many opportunities on the Mountaineers’ non-conference schedule for Huggins’ team to neutralize Tuesday’s effort.
  2. When we laid out a possible road to redemption for Rick Barnes and Texas last month, we didn’t foresee South Alabama giving the Longhorns a scare. Boy, were we wrong to overlook Brad Stevens’ protege, Matthew Graves. His Jaguars raced out to a 15-6 lead and almost handed Texas one of its worst losses under its beleaguered coach, but the Longhorns dug out of a 14-point halftime deficit thanks to big second halves from Jonathan Holmes and Isaiah Taylor and went on to dispose of the Jaguars. 
  3. Another Big 12 team that is probably thankful that the Champions Classic received all the attention Tuesday is TCU, which dropped a stunner to Longwood in Fort Worth last night. Trent Johnson‘s team continues to fight the injury bug and had four players sidelined for this one, but that’s no excuse for a team playing a squad that is only in its second season of  Division-I conference affiliation. Those hoping for a quick rebuild will probably need to adjust their expectations if they haven’t already.
  4. Former Ohio State walk-on Mark Titus, who contributes for Grantland, released his Big 12 outlook yesterday, and like most things Titus writes, it’s an interesting read. From his entertaining superlatives (“Best Senior With A Slim Chance At An NBA Career”) to his ruminations on whether Kansas extends its streak of conference titles, we definitely recommend you take a look.
  5. This time of year, the competition has to be taken into account, but Iowa State put forth a promising defensive effort against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Tuesday night. The Cyclones held the Islanders to 28.6% shooting from the floor and rebounded 76.9% of their misses. The biggest question surrounding Fred Hoiberg’s team is whether they will defend well enough to support its outstanding offensive potential. A bigger test looms Sunday, when Michigan pays a visit to Hilton Coliseum.
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Big 12 M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 8th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Big 12 and college basketball fans alike: rejoice. Just days before the 2013 edition of the Champions Classic tip-off, ESPN announced that Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State will continue the doubleheader series until at least 2016. For the last couple of years (and of course, Tuesday’s blockbuster), the Champions Classic has been the perfect nightcap to an awesome day of college hoops. As far as the next three years will shake out for Kansas, they’ll face Kentucky in 2014, Michigan State in 2015 and Duke in 2016. Did I forget to mention that today’s opening day? The news lately has been prettay, prettay, prettay, prettay good.
  2. Good news on the Oklahoma recruiting front as the Sooners received a commitment from top 150 prospect Dante Buford. A three-star prospect from Arlington Country Day in Florida, Buford commanded offers from the likes of Miami, SMU, USC, Memphis and South Carolina. The news of Buford’s pledge comes two weeks after fellow 2014 big man Khadeem Lattin committed to Lon Kruger’s program despite holding offers from Georgetown, Arizona and Memphis, among many others. The Sooners may be stretched thin for big men this year, but fret not, help is on the way to Norman!
  3. Let’s be honest, expectations for Texas this season aren’t very high. But Burnt Orange Nation argues if the Longhorns are to surprise, it will come down to the play of their four big men. Those players – Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert – struggled mightily in certain areas during their freshmen (sophomore for Holmes) campaigns, but the opportunity for growth is still great. Ridley is a physical freak, Holmes led the team in rebounds, Lammert’s shooting ability came to light when he started games late in the year, and Ibeh was second on the team in blocks behind Ridley. If they make serious strides in all of these areas, 2014-15 may look quite a bit better than you think right now.
  4. Kansas freshman Brannen Greene was rushed to Lawrence Memorial Hospital after taking a hit to the midsection during practice. It wasn’t anything serious as Greene was taken there for precautionary reasons and released shortly thereafter. Head coach Bill Self still believes Greene will see action in tonight’s season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. What we learned from this: Self is a tough coach, his players are tough, Kansas is still predicted to win the league, and water is wet. Man they’re so good.
  5. Move over Cameron Crazies: the hottest, coolest and newest student section in college basketball is the Purple Haze at TCU. The TCU Student Basketball Committee announced the name for the student section last week and members of said student section will have opportunities regular students won’t have. Head coach Trent Johnson said “The Haze” (feel free to use the nickname, TCU) will interact and build relationships with players. A point system has also been established that would enable two “Hazers” (you can use that too) who loyally attend home and away games who accumulate the most points will win two tickets to attend the 2014 Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Sounds like a sweet gig if you can get it.
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Dissecting a College Hoops Revival in the DFW Metroplex

Posted by David Harten on November 6th, 2013

Say what you want about USC vs. UCLA on the west coast, but if you want to see a remarkable arms race between neighboring programs, look to the south. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, SMU began to show the rest of the college basketball world it is finally making a move when the school hired Larry Brown prior to last season. TCU did the same in a more subtle manner, moving to the Big 12 in 2012 and hiring Trent Johnson away from LSU. Quietly, two teams who have been mediocre at best in their respective hoops histories were beginning to make DFW hardwood relevant outside of the Mavericks.

Dallas-Area College Hoops Appears to be on the Rise

Dallas-Area College Hoops Appears to be on the Rise

Johnson’s first season in Fort Worth went as expected, as the Horned Frogs transitioned to a much more difficult conference. Outside of a home upset over Kansas (probably the biggest single upset of the 2012-13 season), TCU tacked on one more win in conference play and trudged to a 2-16 league record. But off the court, Johnson has steadily done his best to push the Horned Frogs toward the middle of the Big 12 pack, which seems like an impossible task for a program that has only been to seven NCAA Tournaments (none since 1998). It started with his first recruiting class, when Johnson landed journeyman guard Trey Zeigler, even if just for the one upcoming season. He also made a splash in recruiting circles by landing Dallas-area center Karviar Shepherd, who ranked as the 69th-best player in the class. To show future recruits their own commitment to building the program, the university has also announced a $45 million renovation to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

Down the road in Dallas, SMU started its road to relevancy by hiring legendary (albeit well-traveled) coach Larry Brown prior to last season. After controversially picking through his roster and cutting certain players, the 73-year old Brown landed his first solid recruiting class with point guard Sterling Brown (ranked no. 82 by Scout.com in the 2013 class), shooting guard Keith Frazier (ranked no. 33) and junior college power forward Yanick Moreira, a consensus top five JuCo prospect. Regardless of his age, Brown has an astute basketball mind that will help the Mustangs drive toward relevance in the newly-formed American Athletic Conference. Couple all this with the fact that SMU also pledged a healthy chunk of change to update the basketball facilities – $47 million worth, to be exact – and you have the start of something brewing in Dallas. The Mustangs will need all of this and more to return to their first NCAA Tournament since 1993.

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