2023 Big 12 championship race: Texas, Kansas lead contenders for crown in college basketball’s toughest league

2023 Big 12 championship race: Texas, Kansas lead contenders for crown in college basketball’s toughest league

This is the final season of Big 12 basketball in its current form as the 10-team league prepares to offset Oklahoma and Texas’ departures to the SEC with the additions of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. This iteration of the conference will be missed, but it will certainly come out with a bang. Nine of the conference’s 10 teams rank in the top 40 on KenPom.com and seven Big 12 teams are slated to compete in the NCAA Tournament, according to Jerry Palm’s Bracketology.

While the conference is clearly the best in college basketball, it doesn’t have an obvious favorite for the title. Texas holds a one-game lead in the conference standings heading into Wednesday’s action, and there’s a four-way tie for second place. Behind those five teams is a sixth threat in No. 11 Baylor, and the Bears shouldn’t be counted out.

Another beauty of the 10 Big 12 basketball team era is the spoof of scheduling, as each team plays the other teams twice, creating a uniform canvas on which to decide a regular season champion. . So, halfway through the conference slate, who is the favorite to win the league?

For this week’s edition of the Dribble Handoff, our editors pick the team they think will emerge from the scrum to win the Big 12.

Kansas/Kansas State/Texas

If I had to pick just one team to win the Big 12, I’d pick Kansas because they’ve been good play 16 of the previous 19 seasons. But I actually think we’re going to have co-champions this season in the form of Kansas, Kansas State and Texas.

A threesome tie!

Texas and Kansas are a tier above Kansas State from the perspective of most reputable PCs – but the Wildcats have a noticeable advantage on the schedule going forward. Texas and Kansas both have five road games to play; Kansas State only has four, and they face the worst teams in the Big 12: Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. To be clear, it’s always hard to win at these places. But Kansas State has already won several tougher road games than any of them, which is why I really think the advantageous schedule going forward could be what allows Jerome Tang to at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in his first season as Division I head coach. – Gary Parrish


Something surprising: The Big 12 is considered the toughest conference, yet the highest-rated team at KenPom is Kansas (9). That said, the top six all fall between ninth and 25th place in this metric and are similarly placed in predictive metrics elsewhere. I think Parrish has a better than 50% chance of being right that the ending will find several teams at the top of the league ledger. Getting a three-way tie is also on the table, but I think there’s a better shot of one team than three contenders for the Big 12 regular season title. Because Texas’ remaining schedule is so tough due to road inclinations planned by GP; and because I’m a little salesman in the state of Kansas; and because I don’t see Baylor closing a two-game deficit; and because I don’t think Iowa State or TCU will have the best records over the next month, I’m going with Kansas.

Ol’ reliable KU gets its 17th regular season title. A game behind Texas with the best coach and best player in the conference. Jalen Wilson is right behind Zach Edey right now for NPOY. Dajuan Harris is still underrated as a playmaker; when it scores in double digits this season, Kansas is 9-0. Give me the Jayhawks to win this league with a 13-5 record. –Matt Norlander


It’s only fitting that the toughest league in America is also the hardest to predict in sports. That’s because there are not one, not two or three but as many as six teams in the Big 12 that could be considered viable contenders for the regular-season conference crown.

Texas is alone at the top of the standings so far after beating Baylor on Monday – the same night Iowa State lost a 23-point lead and lost to Texas Tech – but the Longhorns are not in rest. Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and TCU are all one game behind Wednesday’s action.

My bet is on chaos if only because this league is chaos. So I’m taking on Kansas to mount a comeback on the stretch and win the league. Texas’ lead is far from secure with road trips to K-State and Kansas on deck. Meanwhile, Kansas has a bona fide candidate for Player of the Year in Jalen Wilson, who plays his best ball on the stretch run. This team can play at a high level on both sides with a mix of young star power and veteran experience.

The magic number to win the league could be 13 conference wins, so there’s still room for KU to get there easily and also enough wiggle room to stumble a few times on the stretch. The road tilts against Iowa State, TCU and Texas in the coming weeks won’t be easy either. Kansas needs to defend its home turf and be just above .500 in road games, but the path to another regular season title is there to be taken. -Kyle Boone


If you’re waiting for Texas to fall apart after coach Chris Beard was fired, you’re going to be waiting a while. This team is uniquely equipped to deal with this adversity, as interim coach Rodney Terry spent a successful decade in the head coaching ranks at Fresno State and UTEP. Terry also knows the Big 12 from his previous assist stops at Baylor and Texas, and he can also count on veteran assists Bob Donewald and Chris Ogden. As for the squad, they are one of the deepest and most experienced groups in the Big 12.

Midway through the conference season, Texas sits alone atop the league standings with a 7-2 record that includes a 3-1 mark in road games. The Longhorns aren’t impressed with the Big 12 gauntlet because they have seven talented veterans in their rotation and their coaches know what to expect in this league. Texas’ next two games — back-to-back road games against top 10 state foes Kansas and Kansas — are reminiscent of conference rigors, but then come a manageable stretch before Baylor’s (road) grand finale. , TCU (road) and Kansas (home). It wouldn’t be surprising if a league title was on the line for KU’s final game, and it would be unwise to bet against the Longhorns at home.

Nothing comes easy in the Big 12, but Texas has shown us in recent weeks that overcoming adversity is in its DNA. Every Big 12 team except Texas and Kansas State have lost consecutive games at some point this season, and the Longhorns can hand the Wildcats their second straight loss when they meet Saturday. –David Cobb

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