Busting Brackets

Big 12 Basketball: Way-too-early power rankings for 2024-25 season

Illinois v Iowa State
Illinois v Iowa State / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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2. Houston Cougars

2023-24 season record: 32-5 (15-3 Big 12)

Even the most optimistic of fans and observers didn’t think Houston could walk into Big 12 Basketball and win the conference title in its first year. But it was clear that the elite defense and coaching from Kelvin Sampson translates to any league. And since they return the vast majority of its roster, there’s no reason why they can’t do it again. 

They do lose two key pieces, including their most important one. Jamal Shead averaged 12.9 ppg and 6.3 apg this past season, ultimately earning both Big 12 Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He went pro, while bench guard Damian Dunn (6.4 ppg) transferred out to Pittsburgh.

Everyone else is back, including leading scorer, LJ Cryer (15.5 ppg). Double-digit scoring guard Emanuel Sharp is set for an even larger role, while forwards J’Wan Roberts and Ja’Vier Francis are back to create one of the top interior defenses in the sport. Plus, both Joseph Tugler and Terrance Arceneaux are back from season-ending injuries.

The lone addition to the roster is Milos Uzan, a two-year starter at Oklahoma, coming off averaging 9.0 ppg and 4.4 apg. He’s a proven Big 12 Basketball contributor and if he’s anywhere near as effective as Shead was, Houston will once again have a national title contender.