From the Big 12:
IRVING, Texas – For the first time in Big 12 history, Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to win the conference title in a vote of the league’s head coaches. The Sooners received three first-place votes in polling for the 2008-09 season. The previous high for OU in the preseason selections was second on four different occasions. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.
Oklahoma welcomes back four starters from last season, returning nearly 70 percent of its scoring overall. The Sooners are led by sophomore Blake Griffin. The forward was the first freshman in OU history to earn All-Big 12 First, Second or Third Team honors after leading the squad in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (9.1) and field goal percentage (.568).
Texas came in just behind OU with 107 points and will also return four starters. The Longhorns bring back 73.7 percent of their scoring and 89.7 percent of rebounding, with nine of the team’s top 10 scorers slated to suit up again. Senior A.J. Abrams and junior Damion James are the top returnees. James set a UT single-season rebounding record with 393 boards a year ago.
Baylor easily surpassed its highest preseason prediction in Big 12 history, tying Kansas for third in this year’s poll. The Bears, fresh off their first NCAA appearance since 1988, hope to earn the first back-to-back NCAA bids in school history. Prior to this poll, the highest BU had been selected in the preseason tally was No. 7 in 2006-07.
KU, the defending-NCAA champion, earned the remaining three first-place votes. The Jayhawks will be sporting a fresh look this season with an entirely new starting lineup. Junior guard Sherron Collins and sophomore center Cole Aldrich, who were significant contributors a year ago, will be joined by a highly-rated recruiting class.
Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Missouri – all postseason squads last season – were chosen fifth, sixth and seventh. The remainder of the poll saw Kansas State at No. 8, followed by Nebraska, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Colorado.
The Big 12 season gets underway on Friday, November 14 with seven schools in action. Conference play begins Saturday, January 10 with five league contests.
The Big 12 Conference will hold its preseason media day on Thursday, October 23 in Oklahoma City – site of the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championships.
2008-09 Big 12 Preseason Poll
Team (First place votes) Points
1. Oklahoma (3) 109
2. Texas (4) 107
3. Baylor (2) 103
Kansas (3) 103
5. Texas A&M 79
6. Oklahoma State 69
7. Missouri 51
8. Kansas State 50
9. Nebraska 49
10. Texas Tech 39
11. Iowa State 20
12. Colorado 13
So, what do you think? About right? Too low? Too high? I think there’s no question the league will be down a bit, which makes it a little wide open. I think the Wildcats will better than anticipated – call it a hunch. What says you?