BYU COUGARS

BYU Men’s Basketball Picked Close To Bottom Of Big 12 Preseason Poll

Oct 13, 2023, 9:26 AM | Updated: 9:26 am

BYU Basketball - Mark Pope - WCC Tournament...

BYU basketball head coach Mark Pope reacts as the Brigham Young Cougars play the San Francisco Dons in the 2022 West Coast Conference men’s basketball quarterfinals at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 5, 2022. BYU lost 63-75. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – BYU Men’s basketball is only one spot from the bottom of the Big 12 preseason poll.

The Cougars were picked 13th in the annual poll ahead of Big 12 basketball media days slated for next week.

Kansas was picked first with 12 first-place votes, followed by Houston, Texas and then Baylor.

2023/24 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll

  1. Kansas
  2. Houston
  3. Texas
  4. Baylor
  5. TCU
  6. Kansas State
  7. Iowa State
  8. Texas Tech
  9. West Virginia
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Cincinnati
  12. Oklahoma
  13. BYU
  14. UCF

For their first year in the Big 12, the Cougars will be led by head coach Mark Pope who currently holds a record of 87-41 with the team.

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings

We will get a blend of the future of Big 12 basketball against the outgoing members on the hardwood this winter.

1. Kansas

Last Year: 28-8 overall, 13-5 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament Second Round)

A new era of Big 12 basketball is here, but the top of the league’s mountain remains the same: Kansas. The Jayhawks have won all but two regular season titles in the Big 12 since 2005.

They are once again the favorite to win the league. But the even bigger picture is that they enter the 2024 season as a favorite to win the National Championship.

A big reason for that is the addition of the nation’s top transfer, former Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson. They also picked up Towson sharpshooter Nick Timberlake, who picked KU over UConn and North Carolina.

Big 12 first-teamer DaJuan Harris Jr. is back along with Most Improved Player of the Year KJ Adams Jr..

The Big 12 runs through Lawrence once again.

2. Houston

Last Year: 33-4, 17-1 AAC (NCAA Tournament Sweet 16)

Houston is in the home they’ve been seeking for nearly three decades, the Big 12. It’s a great time to join the league as Houston basketball is experiencing a run of postseason bids, including a pair of Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight appearance, and a Final Four run three years ago.

Kelvin Sampson retooled the roster, adding heralded Baylor transfer LJ Cryer to the backcourt to team up with returning veteran Jamal Shead.

Another notable pickup was Temple transfer Damian Dunn, a Big 5 first-teamer last season in Philly.

3. Texas

Last Year: 29-9, 12-6 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament Elite Eight)

Rodney Terry Era is officially underway this year on the Forty Acres after leading Texas to its second Big 12 Tournament title last season as an interim. Terry then led Texas on a run to the Elite Eight before falling to red-hot Miami.

Former Big 12 Freshman of the Year (at Iowa State) Tyrese Hunter is back for his second year in Austin. He will need to make a big jump for the Longhorns. They got a big pickup in the Transfer Portal with Oral Roberts guard Max Abrams.

Texas was a potent offense last season, the best in the Big 12 (78.0 per game); they have the firepower again to contend in the league’s upper crust.

4. Baylor

Last Year: 23-11, 11-7 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament Second Round)

Baylor has a lot to replace. LJ Cryer goes to Houston, Keyonte George is playing with the Utah Jazz, and veteran Adam Flagler, who was part of the National Championship team in 2021, is also playing professionally.

It might seem daunting to replace that talent level, but this is Baylor, and they have restocked the roster again. Toledo transfer RayJ Dennis was one of the top pickups nationally in the portal. He will lead the way for Baylor. Last season for the Rockets, Dennis scored 19.5 per game and dished out 5.8 assists while also pulling down 4.3 rebounds.

5. Kansas State

Last Year: 26-10, 11-7 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament Elite Eight)

Everyone will wonder what the follow-up act is for year two under Jerome Tang in Manhattan. K-State took college basketball by storm last year with a run to the Elite 8. But Mr. New York, Markquis Nowell is gone, along with Big 12 first-teamer Keyontae Johnson. Those two combined for 34 points per game.

Creighton transfer Arthur Kaluma was a standout during the foreign tour in Israel. He’s one to watch along with North Texas transfer Tylor Perry. Perry shot 41.3% from three for the Mean Green last season. That’s good news for K-State as they look to replicate their success from beyond the arc last season (19th in three-point field goals made).

6. TCU

Last Year: 22-13, 9-9 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament Second Round)

TCU is a fascinating team this season. They could be good enough to finish in the top three or four because of their heralded transfer portal class. Or they could find themselves in the eight to ten range of the final standings.

That happens when you don’t have a team that looks to have questions from three-point range. Only two players on the roster last year shot above 39% from three at the college level.

Regardless of where they end up, TCU Hoops is experiencing a run under Jamie Dixon that should be considered a golden era for the program. They are looking for a program first this year, three consecutive seasons of NCAA Tournament appearances.

Maybe this year could result in the first Sweet 16 run since 1968.

7. Texas Tech

Last Year: 16-16, 5-13 Big 12 (No Postseason)

For a while last season, Texas Tech was the best winless team you had ever seen getting off the bus. There was talent, but it just never meshed last year. Things nosedived after former head coach Mark Adams made racially insensitive remarks. Shortly after, Adams resigned.

That change ushers in a new era in Lubbock with Grant McCasland. A former Director of Operations at Tech in 2001, now he’s the headman.

McCasland was a former assistant on Scott Drew’s bench at Baylor and was later the headman at North Texas. He led the Mean Green to CBI and NIT titles and an NCAA first-round upset over Purdue.

8. Iowa State

Last Year: 19-14, 9-9 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament First Round)

The Big 12’s top defense last year, Iowa State, should be a tough out again. Last season, the Cyclones allowed only 62.6 points per game to their opponents. That’s three fewer points than the next closest team.

TJ Otzelberger’s Cyclones have formed their identity on the defensive end as it has become the standard in Big 12 basketball.

UNLV transfer guard Keshon Gilbert should add some pop on the offensive side. Gilbert previously committed to Otzelberger while at UNLV. Now he teams up with him in Ames.

9. Cincinnati

Last Year: 23-13, 11-7 AAC (NIT Third Round)

The outlook on Cincinnati could change dramatically if they receive waivers for second-time transfers Aziz Bandaogo and Jamille Reynolds.

Bandaogo, a 7-foot big man who shined at Utah Valley, would be an instant rim protector in the league. A potential pairing with Bandaogo and returning 6-foot-11 forward Viktor Lakhin could provide many headaches for opponents on their scouting reports for the Bearcats.

Then Reynolds was a 10-point, five-rebound performer a night at Temple.

10. Oklahoma

Last Year: 15-17, 5-13 Big 12 (No Postseason)

It was a challenging year for the Sooners as they finished tied for last in the conference. But it was a season that highlighted the talent of All-Big 12 freshman guard Milos Uzan. Uzan is a carryover from last year’s team that missed the postseason.

He’s expected to be paired up with Siena guard Javian McCollum in the backcourt. Oklahoma coach Porter Moser also turned to the portal to add Pitt center John Hugley IV and Georgia Tech’s Jalon Moore as players to watch.

11. BYU

Last Year: 19-13, 7-9 WCC (No Postseason)

BYU struggled last year in their final season in the WCC. There were games where they got close to springing a big win but couldn’t get over the finish line.

Mark Pope brings back nearly his entire roster. That’s something of note in this Transfer Portal era. BYU did lose out on guard Ques Glover, who was initially committed and then flipped to Big 12 foe K-State.

That opens the door for Dallin Hall to call the shots from the guard line for BYU.

Keep an eye on transfers Aly Khalifa from Charlotte and UC Irvine’s Dawson Baker. Both were banged up during the foreign tour but should make an immediate impact.

12. West Virginia

Last Year: 19-15, 7-11 Big 12 (NCAA Tournament First Round)

West Virginia probably had the wildest offseason in college basketball. From landing one of the best portal classes to having a legendary coach, Bob Huggins, abruptly resign for a DUI, then claim he never quit.

Sorting through all that leaves much to unpack for interim coach Josh Eilert.

A player West Virginia hopes to have part of the mix for their rotation this year is Montana State transfer RaeQuan Battle. The Mountaineers are waiting on a second-time NCAA waiver for the 6-foot-5 guard who averaged 17.7 points per game for MSU.

If Battle gets cleared, he will team up with Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa, forming an intriguing backcourt in Morgantown.

13. Oklahoma State

Last Year: 20-16, 8-10 Big 12 (NIT Third Round)

Can Oklahoma State knock down the three this season? Last year, the Pokes were 322nd nationally at 31% per game. They barely missed the NCAA Tournament and made a valiant run in the NIT as a top seed before falling to eventual champ North Texas.

But now it feels like a reset year for Mike Boynton, who enters his seventh year in Stillwater.

The Pokes have six freshmen on the roster, most notably top-50 big men Eric Dailey (No. 38 in 247Sports Composite) and Brandon Garrison (No. 45).

14. UCF

Last Year: 19-15, 8-10 AAC (NIT Second Round)

It will be interesting to see what UCF becomes in Big 12 basketball. The Knights are a football school, and even that has struggled in the early going in their league home. Johnny Dawkins is entering his eighth season with only one NCAA Tournament. That was in 2019 when they nearly took down Zion Williamson and Duke.

Last year showed promise, mainly because of NBA draft lottery pick Taylor Hendricks. But it still ended in the NIT.

Veteran guard Darius Johnson will be critical for UCF if they hope to exceed everyone’s low expectations for them.

Follow KSL Sports at Big 12 Basketball Media Days

Mitch Harper will be on location for Big 12 Basketball Media Days at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on October 17-18.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Men’s Basketball Picked Close To Bottom Of Big 12 Preseason Poll