News & gear by players, for players ★ Powered by Fivestar App ★ Grow The Game®
Big 12 men's basketball preview 2021-22

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview 2021-22

One of the most top-heavy conferences in Division I men’s basketball is the Big 12. With a three-headed monster consisting of Kansas, Texas, and Baylor leading the way, there is a huge drop off before the projected fourth-best team.

The three leaders all sit inside of the top 10 of the Preseason AP Poll, while Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are receiving votes. Baylor, the 2021 national champions, return a strong group, but it will be hard to replace three of the conference’s best players from last season: Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague. With its new head coach Chris Beard, Texas will look to build on the 2021 success Shaka Smart had before losing to Abilene Christian and bailing for Marquette. Kansas returns everyone and is the clear-cut favorite to grab its second conference championship in four years.

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview 2021-22

Favorites – Kansas, Texas, Baylor


Head coach: Bill Self (19th season)

2020-21 record: 21-9 (12-6 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 2nd

When you think of the best programs in men’s college basketball, Let alone the Big 12, you think of the Kansas Jayhawks. Bill Self has cemented himself as one of the greatest coaches of all time, and this year’s team looks to be one of his best.

The preseason No. 3 Jayhawks return projected starters Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack, along with big-time contributor Christian Braun. To replace Marcus Garrett’s place as offensive initiator, Self will look to transfers Remy Martin (Arizona State) and Joseph Yusefu (Drake).

Usually when the plan is to have both starting guards be transfers, it takes some time to gel and create continuity. Look for Kansas to figure things out on the fly as they play an exhibition against Emporia State before playing a very dangerous Michigan State team in the Champions Classic on Nov. 9 to open the season.


Head coach: Chris Beard (1st season)

2020-21 record: 19-8 (11-6 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 3rd

Perhaps a surprise to be picked this high, especially when you consider the departure of head coach Shaka Smart to Marquette. However, when you consider that Texas returns Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey and infuses SEVEN Division I transfers, this should be a season for the ages.

While unrealistic, it’s fun to note that if you take the 2020-21 points per game of the projected starting five (regardless of what school they played for last year), the 2021-22 starting five would average 80 points per game. Throw in the projected sixth and seventh men, and that’s another 28 points. You read that right; this offense will dominate when it finds its stride, but as noted earlier, seven transfers means it will take time for this machine to get up to full speed.

Newly-hired coach Chris Beard is more than capable, and he has a war chest of talent to deploy. Look to see just how talented No. 5 Texas is when it faces No. 1 Gonzaga on Nov. 13.


Head coach: Scott Drew (19th season)

2020-21 record: 28-2 (13-1 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 1st

Scott Drew orchestrated one of the most prolific seasons last year when his team waltzed to the national championship game and won every game by at least nine points. The issue with seasons like last year is that they are nearly impossible to repeat.

Offensively, the Bears lost their top three scorers in Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, and MaCio Teague. The trio provided a majority of the team’s offense, and Coach Drew will look everywhere and anywhere to try and replace their 46 points per outing. Defensively, they graduated Mark Vital, who was a presence on the defensive end with 200 rebounds, 33 steals, and 26 blocks.

Who will Drew look to for help? Five-star freshman Kendall Brown will look to absorb much of what Vital provided while also doubling his offensive production (5.6 ppg). Meanwhile, top transfer James Akinjo (Arizona) will bring his 15.6 points and 5.4 assists per game into the fold. Baylor will need a slew of returners to take the next step this season to give the Bears a chance at another deep tournament run. 

CONTENDERS – Oklahoma state, texas tech, west virginia

Oklahoma State

Head coach: Mike Boynton Jr. (5th season)

2020-21 record: 21-9 (11-7 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 5th

The Cowboys were sneakily one of the most balanced teams in the conference last season. Superstar and No. 1 overall NBA pick Cade Cunningham drew all of the attention, but his teammates made the most of those opportunities to the tune of a 21-9 record.

The entire season depends on the team’s ability to replace Cunningham, and it will look to returners Isaac Likekele and Avery Anderson, along with Bryce Thompson (Kansas), to fill that gap. The addition of freshman transfer Moussa Cisse (Memphis) is sure to be a fantastic presence around the rim; expect to see him contributing early and often off of the bench.

Texas Tech

Head coach: Mark Adams (1st season)

2020-21 record: 18-11 (9-8 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 6th

You have a successful run, the program is trending upwards, and your head coach leaves for a conference rival (Texas). Who do you get to replace him? His right hand man, Mark Adams. Coach Adams should make it easy for returners as he’ll likely keep things similar to Coach Beard. The big difference will be the roster.

The Red Raiders raided the transfer portal (had to do it) for SEVEN Division I transfers and one elite JUCO transfer. When looking at the potential top seven or eight on the depth chart, we’re likely to see four transfers have a meaningful role. Rounding out the starters includes seasoned vets and returners Kevin McCullar, Marcus Santos-Silva, and Terrence Shannon.

Same tune, different team. How long will it take for these transfers to gel with returners and hit their stride? The big storyline to watch is the presence of Last Chance U star KJ Allen.

West Virginia

Head coach: Bob Huggins (15th season)

2020-21 record: 19-10 (11-6 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 4th

After 14 completed seasons at West Virginia, I’m sure that Coach Huggins makes no decisions by accident, and I believe that played a big part in this year’s schedule.

The Mountaineers play a relatively weak non-conference schedule when compared to the other elite Big 12 men’s basketball programs, but with the loss of Derek Culver, Emmitt Matthews, Miles McBride, and Jordan McCabe, and the addition of three contributing transfers in Dimon Carrigan (FIU), Malik Curry (Old Dominion), and Pauly Paulicap (Manhattan), I expect West Virginia to use this lighter schedule to gel quickly.

While other teams are relying on transfers to stay or become relevant, the Mountaineers rely heavily on a talented crop of returning players and have a chance to being their conference schedule unscathed.

Stuck in PURGATORY – Oklahoma, tcu, kansas state


Head coach: Porter Moser (1st season)

2020-21 record: 16-11 (9-8 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 7th

Before we address the roster, let’s talk about the coach for a second. Porter Moser is a perfect fit for this program, and when he commits to something, he goes all in (his daughter is on the women’s basketball team at OU, while his son is on the men’s). 

Here’s what OU athletic director Joe Castiglione had to say on the hire:

“As we dug deep into the backgrounds of candidates, his attributes, acumen and record of success totally aligned with what we were seeking. He’s a purposeful and proven leader who prioritizes positive culture, accountability, academics, player development, innovation, transparent communication and a holistic approach to the student-athlete experience.”

While I don’t expect immediate results, I do expect this year’s version of Oklahoma men’s basketball to be ultra-competitive, despite finishing near the bottom of the Big 12. Moser will rely on returners Umoja Gibson, Elijah Harkless, Jalen Hill, and six transfers to transform the pedestrian Sooners.


Head coach: Jamie Dixon (6th season)

2020-21 record: 12-14 (5-11 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 8th

Jamie Dixon has reconstructed the entire TCU roster. With eight transfers and two freshmen, there will literally be more new players than returning. This means that the Horned Frogs will either overachieve and surprise everyone or struggle to hold on to any relevance.

The bright spot in that small group of returners is Mike Miles, who will dictate every aspect of the team’s play on the floor. Miles is an exceptional talent, and quite frankly TCU has been fortunate to keep him given how frequently stars bail on middling programs.  

Kansas State

Head coach: Bruce Weber (10th season)

2020-21 record: 9-20 (4-14 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 9th

Let’s not discuss the past, let’s jump right to the future, and according to Bruce Weber, the future is bright. At the Big 12 men’s basketball media day, he took time to discuss some of the incoming players and the role that they’ll play this season:

“Again, I thought we did pretty well in the portal. We added some experience, shooting. That was our main goal. You have Mark Smith, a veteran guy that played in two high-level programs, had success, one of the better three-point shooters in the whole country, not just in the SEC. Somebody we knew. We recruited him both times when he went to Illinois first, then to Missouri when he transferred.….We needed leadership. We still are pretty young as a total group. lsh (Massoud) is from Wake Forest, gives us a shooter, gives us some length…. Then Markquis (Nowell) is a dynamic little guy. It’s amazing the plays he can make. For all three of them, for them trying to learn the system is important, learning to play defense like we want to.”

Weber went a different path in the portal, opting to go after a few select players and ultimately only bringing in three guys and a lone freshman. This means the Wildcats return a majority of their roster – players who understand their system – and this hopefully speeds up the learning process for the new guys. 

BASEMENT – Iowa State

Iowa State

Head coach: T.J. Otzelberger (1st season)

2020-21 record: 2-22 (0-18 in Big 12)

Conference finish: 10th

I have low expectations for the 2021-22 Cyclones, but I do believe that they’ve hired the right guy in T.J. Otzelberger to right the ship. Otzelberger has had two previous stints at ISU as an assistant, and both times he eventually left to build his resume and create more opportunities for himself. That experience has paid off, and he now returns to Ames as a proven recruit of high-level talent, and that’s exactly what it will take to get the Cyclones out of the Big 12 men’s basketball basement.

George Conditt IV seems to be the only returner who will provide meaningful minutes, while Otzelberger will look to eight Division I transfers and highly-touted freshman Tyrese Hunter to lead the way. I anticipate a lot of close loses this season, indicative of a team on the rise but not quite there yet.

2021-22 Big 12 men’s Basketball Players to Watch

David McCormack – Forward – Senior – Kansas

The 6-foot-10 senior is an absolute presence on the court. He’s looking to build on a strong 2020-21 season in which he averaged 13 points and six rebounds per contest. McCormack is a preseason candidate for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given annually to the nation’s top center. With a new set of guards, look for McCormack to run the defense from the inside out.

Marcus Carr – Guard – Senior – Texas

Marcus Carr is, to put it bluntly, a freak. The Big Ten transfer comes from Minnesota, where he averaged 19.4 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. The well-rounded point guard is one of many marquee additions to the Texas roster, but don’t be surprised if he emerges immediately as the team’s leader. Carr is a preseason candidate for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard. 

Adam Flagler – Guard – Junior – Baylor

Adam Flagler is a preseason candidate for the Jerry West Award, given annually to the nation’s top shooting guard. Don’t let the 2020-21 numbers fool you (9 ppg, 1.4 apg) – Flagler is poised to take over this season. One of Baylor’s best frontcourts ever limited Flagler’s production last season but he is sure to take full advantage of his new role.


Learn more about the upcoming 2021-22 men’s and women’s college basketball seasons with Nothing But Nylon’s extensive conference previews, with a new conference covered every week before the campaign tips off in November.

Previous Article
Big 12 women's basketball preview 2021-22

Big 12 Women's Basketball Preview 2021-22

Next Article
Atlantic 10 women's basketball preview 2021-22

Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Preview 2021-22