With 2016 mere hours away, it’s time for Big 12 teams to make some resolutions. We covered Kansas, Iowa State, Texas, Kansas State and TCU yesterday; here’s what the Sooners, Mountaineers, Bears, Red Raiders and Cowboys need to resolve in the coming year.
Oklahoma – Dethrone Kansas and earn a No. 1 seed
Buddy Hield and Oklahoma are ready to give Kansas their best shot. (David K Purdy/Getty Images)
Before we go any further, it should be clarified that this is a resolution for undefeated Oklahoma, not a prediction on our end. Kansas is, will and should be predicted to win the Big 12 until someone else does it, but that being said, what’s the point of making a resolution if it isn’t a challenge? Buddy Hield is getting the NPOY momentum he deserves thanks to his scorching 51.5/52.9/90.0 accuracy rates from the field, three-point range and free-throw line, but his teammates deserve some attention as well. Ryan Spangler is averaging a double-double; Jordan Woodard has games where he gets even hotter than Hield and Isaiah Cousins has transitioned admirably into the point guard role. While it’d be silly to predict an undefeated run through the Big 12 with the conference being as deep as it is, the trick for the Sooners is to sustain that strong performance all the way through March and do what Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Marcus Smart and Fred Hoiberg couldn’t.
West Virginia – Become better road warriors
The Mountaineers are off to a slightly surprising 10-1 start despite the loss of Juwan Staten and the new style of officiating that in theory, should hold pressing, physical teams like West Virginia back. The next challenge for Bob Huggins‘ team is to avoid the road struggles that kept it in the second tier of the Big 12 a year ago. Last season, the Mountaineers won zero road games against the top six teams in the Big 12, with especially painful losses at Kansas and Baylor. Those struggles away from WVU Coliseum limited the Mountaineers’ seeding in the NCAA Tournament, indirectly leading to the Kentucky loss that cannot be accurately described without invoking some pretty horrific imagery. As of now, there’s a clear line between Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa State and the rest of the league, but while it looks unrealistic to expect WVU to join the conference’s elite, improved results away from Morgantown will cement an increased standing in the league — and in March. Read the rest of this entry »