Big 12 Basketball is the one conference in the country that can truly say that they have no “bad” teams. All 10 programs are ranked in the top 50 in every statistical and analytic category and all have hopes when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament.
To help break down what’s gone on in the Big 12, I’ve asked some contributors of Busting Brackets to answer some key questions. Here’s what the responses were.
Cooper Watson – @coopertwatson
Jason Burgess – @Collegehoopsguy
Lauren Rosenberg – @lrosenberg101
1. Which team has been the biggest surprise so far?
Kansas State…by far. This is a team that hardly filled out a roster this offseason after making a coaching change. Despite that fact, the Wildcats are currently 13-1 overall and undefeated in the Big 12 after a road win over No. 6 Texas. Jerome Tang deserves all the credit for being able to mesh an almost entirely new roster so quickly. He also deserves credit for taking what some considered to be a risk on Keyontae Johnson, who hadn’t played competitive basketball in almost two years after collapsing on the floor in December 2020.
Johnson looks like the player he was pre-collapse at Florida, averaging 18.4 points per game on a Kansas State team that should be in the Top 15 when January 9th’s poll drops. Keep in mind, this is a Kansas State team that was picked to finish dead last in the Big 12’s preseason media poll.
The biggest surprise has to be Jerome Tang’s Kansas State Wildcats, especially after the statement win over Texas. The trio of Johnson, Nowell, and Tomlin have been fantastic.
Kansas State has been the biggest surprise so far this season. They’ve matched their overall win record with 14 from last season and conference play is just getting started. Flashing back to non-conference play, they beat LSU who, despite roster and coaching turnover, is still an elite team. They’re undefeated in conference play and are 11th in AP Top 25. The hiring of Jerome Tang is proving fruitful for the Wildcats.