Can Baylor overtake Kansas in the national title race?

The 2022-23 high school basketball season is just seven days away. Check back each day this week as we break down the biggest preseason conferences, teams and more.

The Big 12 and the state of Texas in general is stronger than ever.

The top of the Big 12 Conference is loaded to open the season, thanks in large part to the Lone Star State. Five Texas-based teams are ranked in the Associated Press’ preseason top 25 — four of which are in the Big 12 and a fifth will be in the conference next year. It could be as good as the state has ever been.

Oh, and defending national champion Kansas is a top-5 program again.

Baylor could have easily given Bill Self and the Jayhawks a chance. Texas looks to be back, and TCU coach Jamie Dixon is ready to lead the Horned Frogs to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. That hasn’t happened in Fort Worth since the 1950s.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Big 12:

Listed in 12 major teams

For full preseason Associated Press top 25 poll, click here.

T5 Kansas

T5 Baylor

No. 12 Texas

No. 14 TCU

No. 25 Texas Tech

Poll of pre-season coaches

This survey was conducted by the company Big 12 Conference. Coaches could not vote for their own team.

1. Baylor

2. Kansas

3. Texas

4. TCU

T5. state of oklahoma

T5. Texas Tech

7. Oklahoma

8. Iowa State

9. West Virginia

10. Kansas State

BetMGM Odds

Kansas is listed at +1400 at BetMGM to repeat as national champions this season, not far behind betting favorite Gonzaga at +900. Baylor is close behind at +1600 and Texas comes in at +2500.

Can Kansas’ new team defend its national title?

Bill Self is in a great position to lead the way with the Jayhawks this season.

Fresh off a national championship win over North Carolina last season, No. 5 Kansas is back with more talent and ready to defend its title.

The lineup is not exactly the same. Both forward Jalen Wilson and guard Dajuan Harris Jr. they’re back, but that’s about it. Wilson averaged 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds, and Harris added 5.4 points and 4.2 assists. But Ochai Agabji, Christian Braun, David McCormack, Remy Martin and Jalen Coleman-lands are all gone — leaving Self with a few spots to fill.

One player who will help significantly is Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar, a defensive specialist who averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds last season with the Red Raiders.

Self brought in four freshmen this offseason, including Rivals.com five-star recruits Gradey Dick and MJ Rice, all of whom will need to step up.

Self will not have an easy path forward with his group. The Jayhawks will face No. 7 Duke in their third game before hosting No. 13 Indiana about a month later. And with a tough group of Big 12 schools in Texas coming up in the second half of the year, Kansas doesn’t have much time to waste clicking on a new group.

However, the goal is still very clear.

“All I want is to get to that moment again,” Wilson said, via The Associated Press. “Coach talked about how fun it was going to be, you know, but you don’t really know until you get there. But once you get there, it’s like, man, it’s the biggest moment of your life. And so I have the opportunity to do it again. It motivates me every day.”

Bill Self and Kansas will try to make the Big 12 conference again this season after their national title.

Bill Self and Kansas will try to make the Big 12 conference again this season after their national title. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Baylor is the preseason favorite again

It’s hard to imagine a better way to enter the 20th year.

Scott Drew’s Baylor team is once again the favorite not only to win the Big 12 this season, but also to cut down the nets in April for the second time in three years.

The Bears, tied for No. 5 with Kansas in the Associated Press preseason poll, have been picked as favorites to win the conference — which would mark their third straight conference title.

The Bears return leading scorer Adam Flagler, who scored 13.8 points per game last season and should take over at point guard, and forward Flo Thambu. Those two, along with transfers Jalen Bridges from West Virginia and Caleb Lohner from BYU, give the Bears plenty of experience. And Drew landed Rivals.com five-star recruit Keyonte George — who is their highest-rated recruit of all time and the favorite to win Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

To top it off, LJ Cryer returns from a right leg injury and Langston Love returns from an ACL injury. Both have already been cleared to return, and the team will also recover from a knee injury to forward Jonathan Tchatchou at some point.

The Bears will get off to a fast start, taking on No. 18 Virginia and then either No. 8 UCLA or No. 23 Illinois before taking on No. 2 Gonzaga — all on neutral floors. But Drew is once again in a great position.

“Really as a returning upperclassman,” Drew said, via The Associated Pres. “The new guys are really bought in and really great additions. The chemistry has been tremendous and our staff really likes coming to practice every day, working with our guys because they want to get better. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Texas is back

Chris Beard snapped Texas’ long NCAA Tournament winless streak last season, his first for the program in Austin.

Now, his team is undoubtedly good enough to make a deep upset — something the Longhorns haven’t experienced in about a decade.

Fifth-year point guard Timmy Allen is back after averaging 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds last season. Beard gets back former Minnesota star Marcus Carr, forward Christian Bishup and seniors Dylan Disu and Brock Cunningham, all of whom should see big minutes for Texas. Add Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter, a former Big 12 Freshman of the Year, to the mix as well.

“Every one of them decided to come back to Texas for the right reasons,” Beard said at a media day earlier this month. “I think each of them saw value in coming back. And we feel like we have a lot of unfinished business together.”

“But the five guys that come back, three all-conference players. Healthy Dylan Disu, in my opinion, can be an all-conference player, and certainly Brock Cunningham, again one of the Big 12’s all-time greats. Those five guys give us a chance to be like returnees more than relative.”

But perhaps most impressive about Beard’s squad is his recruiting class. Beard signed a pair of Rivals.com five-star recruits and had the sixth-best recruiting class in the country thanks to 6-foot-1 forward Dillon Mitchell — who was the No. 4 recruit in his class — and point guard Arteria. Morris — who was the second-best quarterback in his class.

Texas will host No. 2 seed Gonzaga soon, which should be a great test of how good this team really is.

Head Coach Jamie Dixon of the TCU Horned Frogs

Jamie Dixon has built TCU into a true Big 12 contender. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Is it finally TCU time?

Jamie Dixon has truly built the Horned Frogs into a true contender, both in the Big 12 and nationally — something the program has never had.

And with his entire starting roster back and available, it may finally be time for him to make a big run at TCU.

Guard Mike Miles is having a career-best season, averaging 15.4 points and 3.8 assists while earning All-Big 12 honors. The preseason Big 12 Player of the Year selection was huge in getting the Horned Frogs into the tournament NCAA where they earned their first win in over three decades. He will again be crucial to their success this year, as will big men Eddie Lampkin and Emanuel Miller.

Lampkin, a 6-foot-11, 300-pound center, averaged just 6.8 points per game last year, but an impressive 6.2 rebounds — which were split evenly between the offensive and defensive ends. Miller also averaged 10.3 points and 6.2 rebounds last season.

Add in shooting guard Chick O’Bannon, guard Damion Baugh and sixth man Michah Peavy, along with Oklahoma State transfer Rondel Walker, and TCU has one of the most experienced rosters in the country.

While they had their struggles last season — TCU had the worst turnover in the league and the second-worst 3-point shooting percentage — the Horned Frogs could easily find themselves in contention for the Big 12 title.

That is, if they can keep up with Kansas, Baylor and Texas.

Notable early games

No. 7 Duke at No. 5 Kansas* | Tuesday, November 15

No. 2 Gonzaga at No. 12 Texas | Wednesday, November 16

No. 18 Virginia at No. 5 Baylor* | Friday, November 18

No. 8 UCLA/No. 23 Illinois at No. 5 Baylor | Sunday, November 20

No. 25 Texas Tech at No. 9 Creighton* | Monday, November 21

*Neutral court

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