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Big 12 Basketball in 2010-11 (UPDATED)

We've been justifiably veering toward football talk as the summer has approached, but for one day, we're flipping the switch back to basketball.

I wrapped up our 2009-10 basketball season wrap-up series in late-March and early-April with a pair of early looks at the Big 12 in 2010-11 (North, South -- the South piece also contains info on the methods I use for these projections), posting a couple of updates throughout April and promising to revisit the subject once teams had more-or-less filled their remaining scholarships and early-entry players had committed to staying in the draft or coming back to school.

At this point, I think we know what most players' intentions are, and while there might still be another signee or two coming (Iowa State still only has ten scholarship players lined up for next year), they probably won't be impressive enough signings to make a difference in one way or another.  So, aside from the drama that might be following Matt Pilgrim around this summer, I think the rosters are set enough for us to take one final, uh, future look at how the Big 12 might play out next year.

Teams are listed in order of their projected finish.

Kansas (14-2)

What I said a month ago:

So KU loses their all-time winningest guard and two likely Lottery picks ... and they lose less overall statistical production than anybody else in the conference so far?  That hardly seems fair.  But it's pretty easy to see how it will come about.  Collins is replaced, in part, by former 5-star recruit Elijah Johnson, and the lawfirm of Morris, Robinson and Morris man the frontcourt.  Add a potential breakout season from Taylor (if he's got one in him) and nice production from Little, who was a solid chemistry guy in 2008-09, and that's a pretty disgustingly good team.  Maybe their overall team defense struggles without Aldrich, and maybe that's worth another couple of points to the overall "loss" total, but ... that's still a smaller loss than most other teams are suffering.  Ridiculous.

Since then, Kansas has locked up the commitment of their next big freshman All-America type, Josh Selby.  A Baltimore native, Selby was's #1 player in the country, and I'm sliding him into the starting lineup.  Most star freshmen struggle at times no matter their recruiting ranking (think Avery Bradley), but KU will have enough depth they can account for that.

Really, the more I look at this team, the more impressed I am by the mix of young talent and experience.  You've got potentially great role players like Mario Little, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Travis Releford, and Jeff Withey to go alongside former and current 5-star guards (Selby, Elijah Johnson) and major hosses in the paint (the lawfirm of Morris, Morris and Johnson).  Most people are going to pick Kansas State to win the conference this coming season, and while that's absolutely a possibility, I'm still going with Kansas because a) you never bet against a streak, and b) they really could be outstanding.  And, of course, because the numbers tell me to.

Player 09-10
Marcus Morris (6'8, 225, Jr.) 0.49 0.51 13.9
Markieff Morris (6'9, 232, Jr.) 0.40 0.45 11.0
Josh Selby (6'2, 185, Fr.) N/A 0.35 9.1
Mario Little (6'5, 210, Sr.) N/A 0.39 8.7
Tyshawn Taylor (6'3, 180, Jr.) 0.30 0.38 8.1
Thomas Robinson (6'9, 230, So.) 0.30 0.36 6.5
Elijah Johnson (6'2, 183, So.) 0.37 0.42 4.8
Tyrel Reed (6'3, 185, Sr.) 0.35 0.34 4.1
Jeff Withey (7'0, 225, So.) 0.48 0.50 4.0
Brady Morningstar (6'3, 185, Sr.) 0.25 0.28 3.9
TOTAL 79.6

Other rotation candidates: Travis Releford (6'5, 205, So.), C.J. Henry (6'4, 205, So.), Royce Woolridge (6'3, 175, Fr.).

When you look at the raw numbers, it does seem like Kansas loses a ton of production with guys like Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry and Mizzou Killer Cole Aldrich.  But on a per-minute basis, they seem more than capable of replacing that production and thriving.

Kansas State (13-3)

What I said a month ago:

The three biggest obstacles to K-State's 2010-11 season: 1) KU is still going to be really, really good, 2) they have to deal with a level of expectations they haven't faced before (I fully expect them to be a preseason Top 10 team, even if something weird happens, like Curtis Kelly declaring for the draft), and 3) Jacob Pullen will make the shift from SG to PG to replace Denis Clemente.  I virtually guarantee that that will hurt his overall production level, even if it doesn't really hurt the team as a whole.

So those are the obstacles.  Now here are the pluses: Pullen, who made himself a nationally-recognizable star this season (especially in the sweet Sixteen), returns for an All-America run in his senior season.  Kelly, Jamar Samuels, and the other hosses that made KSU so tough and physical to handle, all return (barring unexpected defection).  KSU had a boatload of freshmen playing decent minutes this season (Wally Judge, Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder, etc.), and they will all have a year of both experience and weight training under their belts.

K-State has added a commitment from a JUCO point guard, Juevol Myles, but otherwise their projections haven't really changed. Unbeknownst to me, Jacob Pullen was considering a jump to the draft, but he wisely decided against it, and he'll be back to lead a stacked Wildcats team.

Player 09-10
Jacob Pullen (6'0, 200, Sr.) 0.57 0.49 16.5
Curtis Kelly (6'8, 250, Sr.) 0.51 0.51 13.2
Jamar Samuels (6'7, 215, Jr.) 0.46 0.47 11.3
Dominique Sutton (6'5, 210, Sr.) 0.36 0.37 10.2
Wally Judge (6'9, 250, So.) 0.20 0.30 4.8
Rodney McGruder (6'4, 205, So.) 0.39 0.40 4.7
Juevol Myles (6'1, 190, Jr.) N/A 0.33 3.6
Jordan Henriquez (7'0, 245, So.) 0.24 0.28 3.5
Martavious Irving (6'1, 209, So.) 0.15 0.22 3.4
Freddy Asprilla (6'10, 280, Jr.) N/A 0.38 2.7
TOTAL 77.4

Other rotation candidates: Will Spradling (6'3, 170, Fr.), Victor Ojeleye (6'8, 225, Jr.), Shane Southwesll (6'6, 220, Fr.).

The most important incoming recruit is likely Myles, also the least heralded.  If he can offer stability at the point, Pullen can rotate between point and 2-guard at different times.  If neither Myles nor Martavious Irving can bring that stability to the table, Pullen will have to play point most of the time, and, as when Clarence Gilbert did it for Mizzou in 2002, it could absolutely work ... to a degree.  I think Pullen's skill set works best when there's a primary distributor on the court with him, but we'll see.  No matter what, KSU is going to be pretty outstanding. I still have KU favored, but that's not a knock on KSU -- they'll likely be a legitimate Top 10 team -- it's more of a statement on KU.

Missouri (13-3)

What I said a month ago:

How big of a missing piece is team defense to the AdjGS equation?  We'll find out soon enough -- if the loss of Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller, and the likely corresponding increase in Mizzou's FG% allowed, aren't worth more than the loss of a couple of points in 2010-11, then Mizzou will absolutely, positively be a darkhorse conference title contender.  As you'll see below, the stats love them even though they don't project much of an improvement (if any) from Mizzou's three major juniors-to-be, even though minimal production is projected for either of Mizzou's incoming star freshmen (Tony Mitchell, Phil Pressey), and even though rebounds (or lack thereof) play a role in the AdjGS formula.  Unlike K-State, they will be lucky to even be ranked in the preseason Top 25, but the stats really like this team.

Nobody's projections changed more than Mizzou's in the last month.  With the signings of Ricardo Ratliffe and Matt Pressey, suddenly the TIgers are pretty sickeningly deep.  I set it up so that the primary minutes to go Dixon-Denmon-English-Bowers-Ratliffe, with Pressey-Pressey-Mitchell-Safford-Moore serving as the second team, but we'll see.  Obviously John Underwood and/or Ricky Kreklow (plus Kadeem Green, if he qualifies) could have something to say about that, as could Safford (who started most of last season) and Mitchell (who potentially has the highest ceiling of anybody).

Player 09-10
Laurence Bowers (6'8, 205, Jr.) 0.54 0.52 13.0
Marcus Denmon (6'3, 185, Jr.) 0.45 0.46 12.2
Ricardo Ratliffe (6'8, 225, Jr.) N/A 0.44 11.6
Kim English (6'6, 200, Jr.) 0.41 0.43 11.0
Mike Dixon (6'1, 175, So.) 0.40 0.38 8.2
Tony Mitchell (6'8, 220, Fr.) N/A 0.35 6.0
Justin Safford (6'8, 230, Sr.) 0.37 0.36 5.3
Matt Pressey (6'2, 185, Jr.) N/A 0.38 4.4
Phil Pressey (5'10, 160, Fr.) N/A 0.28 3.3
Steve Moore (6'9, 264, Jr.) 0.13 0.25 2.6
TOTAL 80.1

Other rotation candidates: John Underwood (6'9, 208, So.), Ricky Kreklow (6'5, 185, Fr.)

I've said this already, but I absolutely love the lack of pressure on Mitchell at this point.  With little contribution from him or any freshman, Mizzou is the only team whose point total is projected to improve outright.  Exciting.

Texas A&M (9-7)

What I said a month ago:

As sophomores, David Loubeau and Dash Harris were both fun and inconsistent.  When they both showed up, ATM was nearly unstoppable.  When they didn't, ATM was still pretty good because of Bryan Davis, Donald Sloan and good depth.  Now, Davis and Sloan are gone, and while Derrick Roland is going to try for a medical redshirt, the prognosis is not good.  The Aggies will have plenty of talent and pretty ridiculous length/athleticism next year, but until we know that Loubeau and Harris are ready to be focal points, we don't know for sure how good ATM is going to be.  Harris was the perfect Mizzou-killer type of guard -- a stabilizing force and distributor with really no worry about scoring -- but he may need to become more of an offensive threat in 2010-11.

Oh yeah, and I LOVE Khris Middleton and Ray Turner.  They're potentially my favorite non-Mizzou Big 12 players next year.  They'll be sophomores, and we all know what happens when you count on sophomores, but they could be (inconsistently) outstanding.

Nothing has changed for ATM, whose roster and recruiting class have remained stable over the last month.

Player 09-10
David Loubeau (6'8, 230, Jr.) 0.37 0.42 11.2
Dash Harris (6'1, 175, Jr.) 0.24 0.34 9.9
B.J. Holmes (5'11, 175, Sr.) 0.32 0.33 9.3
Khris Middleton (6'7, 215, So.) 0.34 0.35 9.1
Ray Turner (6'8, 220, So.) 0.37 0.37 7.9
Naji Hibbert (6'6, 200, So.) 0.10 0.20 3.4
Nathan Walkup (6'7, 210, Sr.) 0.28 0.30 2.8
Daniel Alexander (6'8, 195, Fr.) N/A 0.28 2.5
Tobi Oyedeji (6'8, 215, Fr.) N/A 0.28 2.5
Keith Davis (6'9, 220, Fr.) N/A 0.23 1.9
TOTAL 64.3

Other rotation candidates: Kourtney Roberson (6'9, 215, Fr.), Derrek Lewis (6'5, 195, Sr.), James Blasczyk (7'0, 230, So.).

I'll say it every time I talk about ATM between now and next season -- I love Khris Middleton and Ray Turner.

Baylor (9-7)

What I said a month ago:

Making projections for Baylor right now is more than a little iffy considering we have no idea what is in store for either Ekpe Udoh or LaceDarius Dunn.  If both return to Waco next year, Baylor could be pretty disgustingly good.  They will have ridiculous depth in the frontcourt -- Udoh and Acy would combine with Anthony Jones, Cory Jefferson, Dragan Sekelja and five-star newcomer Perry Jones to form the most long-armed 2-3 zone of all-time.  They could be a little thin in the backcourt -- Dunn would return, but they lose Tweety Carter and his 36 MPG.  A.J. Walton averaged 18 MPG and will almost certainly move into the starting lineup, but after that they'll be relying on sophomores like Nolan Dennis or freshmen like Stargell Love (GREAT name) or Bakari Turner.

If Udoh and Dunn BOTH depart, BU could be in trouble.  They'd still have decent frontcourt depth, but they'd have lost all three of their go-to options from this season, and Quincy Acy would have to move into a go-to role.

My guess: Udoh leaves, Dunn returns.

My guess was correct. Udoh is gone, but Dunn will return to lead a good-but-not-loaded Bears team.

Player 09-10
LaceDarius Dunn (6'4, 205, Sr.) 0.48 0.45 15.1
Quincy Acy (6'7, 225, Jr.) 0.42 0.46 14.7
A.J. Walton (6'1, 190, So.) 0.24 0.28 8.3
Anthony Jones (6'10, 195, Jr.) 0.22 0.33 8.0
Perry Jones (6'11, 220, Fr.) N/A 0.35 6.7
Nolan Dennis (6'5, 180, So.) 0.14 0.22 4.3
Stargell Love (6'2, 180, Fr.) N/A 0.23 4.0
Dragan Sekelja (7'0, 275, So.) 0.33 0.34 2.1
Cory Jefferson (6'9, 200, So.) 0.25 0.30 1.9
Bakari Turner (6'3, 180, Fr.) N/A 0.23 1.5
TOTAL 68.5

Other rotation candidates: Fred Ellis (6'6, 215, Jr.), Oscar Griffin (6'4, 200, So.), Givon Crump (6'7, 210, So.).

I love Rush the Court, but their 68-team bracket projection from Wednesday had Baylor as a 2-seed, and that baffles me.  Picking them as a Top 8 team for next season puts a lot of faith and pressure on players like Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones to improve and freshmen Perry Jones and Stargell Love/Bakari Turner to thrive immediately.  I see them more as a 4-6 seed when all is said and done.

Texas (8-8)

What I said a month ago:

Texas sees the second-biggest statistical drop, though as I suggested above, I'm more confident in this team bouncing back than I am of Oklahoma State. Jordan Hamilton is a potential stud, and another year of experience for the Bradley-Brown combination (with plenty of experience in post-injury guys like Ward and Balbay) could bring outstanding results.  Nothing is certain, but Texas' projected second-stringers have better recruiting rankings than most other teams' starters (even Wangmene was a 4-star recruit), and you can't overlook that.

Rick Barnes has to hope for three things in 2010-11: a) that the chemistry improves (some of that is out of his hands), b) that the point guard position sees infinitely more stability, either from Ward or Brown (Balbay is a great backup -- good defender, nice change of pace -- but if he's your starter, he holds you back significantly on offense), and c) that he does a better coaching job.  I'm not nearly as down on Barnes as a lot of people, but there's no question that he failed to put the pieces together this season.  It's not a cardinal sin -- there were plenty of years where Norm Stewart couldn't get it done, and he usually bounced back just fine -- but he does need to get some heavy introspection done in the in offseason and figure out why things didn't work out.

I'm still a little surprised that Avery Bradley stayed in the draft, but I'm just about the only one.  I wasn't sure he had shown enough pure upside to end up in the Top 20 or 25 picks, and I thought another year in Austin would improve his stock tremendously, but apparently I was incorrect.  Lucky for Texas, Bradley's confirmed absence coincided with the commitment of five-star guard Cory Joseph.  His per-minute projections as a 5-star newbie aren't as high as Bradley's would have been as a sophomore, but he at least somewhat neutralizes Bradley's loss.

Player 09-10
Jordan Hamilton (6'7, 226, So.) 0.43 0.45 12.9
J'Covan Brown (6'1, 185, So.) 0.32 0.34 10.4
Cory Joseph (6'3, 180, Fr.) N/A 0.35 9.8
Gary Johnson (6'6, 238, Sr.) 0.40 0.40 8.4
Shawn Williams (6'6, 215, So.) 0.24 0.29 6.6
Tristan Thompson (6'9, 240, Fr.) N/A 0.35 5.6
Varez Ward (6'2, 192, Jr.) 0.30 0.36 5.4
Dogus Balbay (6'1, 175, Sr.) 0.30 0.31 4.3
Jai Lucas (5'10, 150, Sr.) 0.20 0.26 2.3
Alexis Wangmene (6'7, 241, Sr.) 0.25 0.35 2.9
TOTAL 71.0

Other rotation candidates: Clint Chapman (6'10, 239, Sr.), Andrew Dick (6'2, 180, So.), Matt Hill (6'10, 240, Sr.), Dean Melchionni (6'4, 185, So.).

A starting lineup of Brown-Joseph-Williams-Hamilton-Johnson is a bit undersized, but from an athleticism and potential standpoint, that's outstanding.  If those five can thrive together, that allows Rick Barnes to put together great options off the bench -- Ward and Balbay for defense, Lucas for (in theory) offense and speed, for example.  Tristan Thompson is another 5-star freshman, and easing him in first from a bench role would be optimal.  Then again, if Thompson is immediately better than Johnson and/or Williams, you probably squeeze him in next to Hamilton in the starting lineup.

I've made it known that I expect Texas to exceed their 8-8 projections next year, but even with the talent at hand, that's a bit of a leap of faith.  If Joseph and Thompson are both worth their 5-star rating and stay more than one year, then Texas could be great in 2011-

Oklahoma State (8-8)

What I said a month ago:

When they were on, OSU was one of the most fun teams in the country to watch this year.  The long balls from James Anderson, Obi Muonelo, and Keiton Page just rained down from the sky, and they were capable of beating anybody (they were the only team in the conference to beat KU this year).  Of course, when the 3's weren't falling, they pretty quickly degraded into unwatchability (the second half of their tourney game against Georgia Tech was just brutal), but that's neither here nor there.  Anderson has declared for the draft, and Muonelo's eligibility is finally up after 12 years in Stillwater (not really), leaving the Pokes without their top two scoring options.  Combined with the size of their incoming recruits, OSU's  makeup and personality will flip almost 180 degrees next year.  Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses -- both efficient scorers who rarely actually had to be counted on to score -- become leaders, and defenses will have to figure out what to do with Page, who pretty consistently found open shooting space toward the end of last season (while sharing the court with Anderson and Muonelo).

Pilgrim and Moses will potentially be challenged by a few newcomers -- Travis Ford brings in JUCOs J.P. Olukemi and Darrell Williams, plus four-star high school PF Michael Cobbins -- and overall OSU will have a lot more frontcourt depth next year.  Plus they get Ray Penn back from his conference season ailments.  They'll be pretty long and pretty deep ... but somebody will need to score, and it's not a given who that will be.

As with ATM, nothing has changed with Oklahoma State either ... as long as Matt Pilgrim is in uniform next year.  He's been accused of rape, which means either a) he's a scuzzbag who doesn't deserve to play college basketball anymore, or b) he's being falsely accused, and the next few months are going to be undeserved hell.  Either way, the accusations will define both him and the Oklahoma State team for the next few months.

Player 09-10
Matt Pilgrim (6'8, 235, Sr.) 0.58 0.47 13.3
Keiton Page (5'9, 170, Jr.) 0.31 0.36 10.8
Marshall Moses (6'7, 240, Sr.) 0.37 0.36 8.1
Ray Penn (5'9, 165, So.) 0.20 0.26 7.8
Roger Franklin (6'5, 220, So.) 0.26 0.30 7.4
J.P. Olukemi (6'7, 215, Jr.) N/A 0.38 3.9
Darrell Williams (6'8, 235, Jr.) N/A 0.38 3.9
Michael Cobbins (6'8, 215, Fr.) N/A 0.28 2.8
Fred Gulley (6'2, 175, So.) 0.03 0.14 1.7
Nick Sidorakis (6'4, 185, Sr.) 0.18 0.23 1.6
TOTAL 64.2

Other rotation candidates: Markel Brown (6'3, 185, Fr.), Brian Williams (6'5, 190, Fr.), Jarred Shaw (6'10, 230, So.), Torin Walker (6'11, 245, So.), Reger Dowell (6'1, 180, So.).

Without Pilgrim, they fall to 6-10, by the way.  They would be relying totally on unproven JUCOs and freshmen on the inside (alongside Moses, that is), and their backcourt isn't nearly experienced enough to account for that.

Colorado (7-9)

What I said a month ago:

I've got to say, I have no idea what to expect from Colorado's two stars, Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, in 2010-11.  Their per-minute production was off the charts in 2009-10, particularly that of Burks, a freshman from Grandview passed over in recruitment (at least until it was too late) by Kansas and Missouri.  As a 3-star freshman, Burks could have been expected to produce at about a 0.23 AdjGS/minute rate ... and he almost tripled that.  Unexpected star freshmen often suffer sophomore slumps, and I would at least somewhat expect that from Burks, but how much of one?  The projections say he'll fall back to around the 0.50-0.52 level ... but the projections also missed wildly on him this season.

Not much has changed in terms of CU's roster -- they added a commit from 6'7 Andre Roberson, but that's it -- but the bench has changed considerably.  Wake Forest strangely hired Jeff Bzdelik away, and CU replaced him with Northern Colorado's Tad Boyle.  Long-term, this might be a great hire, but short-term I don't know how much of a difference it makes.  I thought the personnel Bzdelik put together might do better in a more up-tempo style, but Northern Colorado actually averaged fewer points last year than CU did.  A grind-it-out style does not do favors for a CU roster that possesses no inside threat whatsoever.

Player 09-10
Cory Higgins (6'5, 190, Sr.) 0.58 0.50 16.2
Alec Burks (6'6, 185, So.) 0.60 0.52 16.2
Marcus Relphorde (6'7, 220, Sr.) 0.33 0.33 9.7
Austin Dufault (6'9, 230, Jr.) 0.25 0.33 7.7
Nate Tomlinson (6'3, 185, Jr.) 0.26 0.33 6.7
Keegan Hornbuckle (6'7, 205, So.) 0.23 0.27 3.1
Levi Knutson (6'4, 200, Sr.) 0.30 0.31 3.0
Shannon Sharpe (6'0, 190, RSFr.) N/A 0.23 2.9
Shane Harris-Tunks (6'11, 225, So.) 0.07 0.15 2.1
Andre Roberson (6'7, 190, Fr.) N/A 0.23 1.4
TOTAL 69.5

Other rotation candidates: Casey Crawford (6'9, 245, Sr.), Trey Eckloff (6'10, 235, Jr.).

This is a pretty funny roster, really -- you've got two all-conference talents ... and nobody else is projected to even cross the 0.33 AdjGS/min mark.  (As a frame of reference, note that KU only has one player who ISN'T projected at 0.33 or higher, MU two and KSU three.)  If Boyle can pull the right strings and make life easy for Higgins and Burks, then this could be a darkhorse tourney team ... but I'm doubting it.  They should improve over last year, but not enough.

Iowa State (5-11)

What I said a month ago:

Let's be honest: things aren't looking too good in Ames right now.  Greg McDermott is a good, tough game coach, but he is struggling to keep together a full roster of talent long enough to succeed.  Heading into this offseason, he knew he was probably going to lose Craig Brackins as an early defection to the NBA draft, and he knew that Marquis Gilstrap was likely not going to get an extra year of eligibility as once hoped.  Sure enough, Brackins and Gilstrap are gone.  Unfortunately for the 'Clones, so are sophomores Justin Hamilton and Dominique Buckley, who elected to transfer.  Now, ISU returns just two players who averaged over 20 minutes per game last year (Diante Garrett and Scotty Christopherson) ... and neither were very good.

Alright, so add Chris Colvin and Charles Boozer to the list of ISU's 2009-10 players who won't be back for 2010-11.  Both announced their intention to transfer, though it sounds like Colvin might be having second thoughts now that Fred Hoiberg has been brought in.  Hoiberg, a surprising hire after the surprising (but win-win) departure of Greg McDermott, has had to do yeoman's work in just putting together a roster.  He's snagged some commits, but if Colvin doesn't return, ISU is still only sitting at ten scholarship players for next year.

If I'm Hoiberg, I just cut my losses and go with these ten next year, then go, guns blazing, into recruiting for the Class of 2011.  You're going to stink next year no matter what (though the five projected wins was a bit surprising and suggests that, at the very least, the NIT might be in play if everything breaks right and LaRon Dendy is as good as I think he'll be), so you might as well start recruiting.  With Dendy, Garrett and Vanderbeken leaving after this season, he could have six scholarships to give out in his first full year of recruiting, and that's pretty much the perfect situation for a rebuilding/reclamation project.

Player 09-10
LaRon Dendy (6'9, 230, Sr.) 0.53 0.48 16.6
DeMarcus Phillips (6'3, 195, Jr.) N/A 0.38 12.2
Diante Garrett (6'4, 190, Sr.) 0.31 0.32 10.4
Scotty Christopherson (6'3, 200, Jr.) 0.24 0.27 9.5
Jamie Vanderbeken (6'11, 250, Sr.) 0.38 0.37 8.2
Melvin Ejim (6'6, 205, Fr.) N/A 0.23 2.6
Antwon Oliver (6'5, 200, RSFr.) N/A 0.23 2.5
Calvin Godfrey (6'8, 240, Fr.) N/A 0.18 1.7
Jordan Railey (6'10, 215, Fr.) N/A 0.18 1.3
Eric McKnight (6'9, 210, Fr.) N/A 0.18 1.3
TOTAL 66.3

Other rotation candidates: yeah, not so much.  This is all of what he's got to work with.

Really, 2010-11 will come down to Dendy and Phillips.  Garrett, Christopherson, and Vanderbeken are pretty much known quantities, for better or worse, and it's never ever smart to rely on freshmen, especially freshmen who aren't particularly highly-touted.  If Dendy lives up to his per-minute projections and Phillips can provide some sort of threat in the backcourt, then ISU could at least make a hopeful run at the NIT.  If neither are prime-time players, and ISU's in a situation where a) Diante Garrett is their best player, and b) their head coach has never been a head coach before (well, they'll be in that part of the situation regardless), then 5-11 is far too optimistic.  They'll be fighting OU for 11th in the conference.

Texas Tech (5-11)

What I said a month ago:

Texas Tech will enter 2010-11 with almost certainly the most experienced team in the conference.  The top four remaining players are seniors, they'll bring another couple of seniors off the bench, and juniors Robert Lewandoski and Paul Cooper (an incoming JUCO signee, and a hefty, hefty man) will fill in the rotation as well.  Pat Knight really needs to succeed in 2010-11, as the '11-'12 team will be REALLY young.

CAN they win?  It sure seems like it -- the top four seniors all averaged at least 0.40 AdjGS/Min this season, and even if they show just marginal improvement, if they mostly hold steady while the bench improves, that certainly seems like a team that could break into the conference's top six.  The main problem: the whole was just not greater than the sum of Tech's parts in 2009-10.  They held on for a while, getting to 16-7 (4-5 in conference) and holding out hope for an NCAA tourney bid; but they finished the regular season losing seven straight before finding their rhythm again in the NIT.  Was it just a case of bad vibes that could disappear next year?  Did they just run out of gas?  Were they really just not very good, getting smacked in the face by law of averages?  The answer to that question will determine their ceiling for 2010-11.

Nothing has changed for Tech.  Nothing whatsoever.  They're still a team that will completely rely on their four seniors -- Roberson, Tairu, Singletary and Roberts -- to improve their stock.  The only problem is, the numbers suggest players don't really improve much their senior year.  They're pretty much done improving by the end of their junior season, and while more experience may give them a better sense of 'the moment,' and they might come through better at key times, over the full 40-minute span of a basketball game, there is little improvement in their play.  And if the four seniors don't improve, Tech doesn't improve ... not unless somebody like ginormous JUCO transfer Paul Cooper or one of the freshmen is a total revelation.

Player 09-10
John Roberson (5'11, 165, Sr.) 0.43 0.40 14.3
Mike Singletary (6'6, 217, Sr.) 0.42 0.39 13.4
D'walyn Roberts (6'7, 200, Sr.) 0.44 0.41 10.4
David Tairu (6'3, 180, Sr.) 0.40 0.38 8.0
Robert Lewandoski (6'10, 240, Jr.) 0.23 0.30 7.0
Paul Cooper (6'8, 280, Jr.) N/A 0.38 5.3
Theron Jenkins (6'6, 211, Sr.) 0.28 0.30 5.0
Brad Reese (6'6, 189, Sr.) 0.30 0.31 2.3
Javarez Willis (5'11, 170, Fr.) N/A 0.28 2.1
Jamel Outler (6'3, 175, Fr.) N/A 0.23 1.3
TOTAL 71.3

Other rotation candidates: Mike Davis (6'2, 185, So.), Corbin Ray (6'7, 225, Jr.), Wally Dunn (6'4, 194, Sr.).

With this much experience, I do think that Tech will be a popular pick to finish a lot higher than 10th in the standings, but the numbers don't like what they see.

Nebraska (4-12)

What I said a month ago:

Like Texas Tech, Nebraska was set to return a vast majority of its main contributors.  Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry depart, but just about everybody else was set to return.  Since the end of the season, it has been announced that Ray Gallegos, Quincy Hankins-Cole and Myles Holley are all transferring -- none were major contributors (they all averaged between 9 and 14 minutes per game), but that hits their depth pretty hard.  Still, they look to be a much more experienced all-around team this season.  It cannot be ignored that eight of the 11 players in NU's main rotation were newcomers in 2009-10, and even without the departing players listed above, they will still have an experienced, relatively gritty backcourt (Brandon Richardson, Lance Jeter, Toney McCray, Eshaunte Jones), and a frontcourt capable of playing the defense NU will need to play to improve.

The key player, as you'll see, could be Christian Standhardinger.  The German who, um, doesn't exactly look German, had to sit out the first half of this season, but he improved significantly through the portion of his freshman year that he was actually allowed to play, and his per-minute stats were damn impressive.

As with Tech, nothing much has changed for Doc Sadler's team.  They're going to be hoping that a boatload of extra experience, and the potential breakthrough of Standhardinger, is enough to push them forward in the standings.  The numbers aren't optimistic.

Player 09-10
Christian Standhardinger (6'8, 210, So.) 0.51 0.46 12.6
Brandon Richardson (6'0, 190, Jr.) 0.39 0.41 11.7
Toney McCray (6'6, 205, Jr.) 0.34 0.39 9.3
Jorge Brian Diaz (6'11, 235, So.) 0.37 0.35 9.0
Lance Jeter (6'3, 225, Sr.) 0.25 0.28 8.9
Eshaunte Jones (6'4, 190, So.) 0.34 0.35 7.3
Andre Almeida (6'10, 320, Jr.) N/A 0.38 5.7
Caleb Walker (6'4, 205, Jr.) N/A 0.33 4.2
Brandon Ubel (6'10, 220, So.) 0.16 0.21 2.8
Mike Fox (6'4, 195, So.) 0.34 0.36 1.1
TOTAL 72.5

I've said this a million times now: I really like Doc Sadler's coaching ability, but unless he's hit the jackpot with Standhardinger, unless Richardson and McCray have major breakthroughs in their junior seasons, or unless one of the incoming JUCOs -- Monte Hardge clone Andre Almeida or wing Caleb Walker -- massively overachieves their projections, they are what they are: a salty team that is not nearly talented enough to keep up in the Big 12.  If it doesn't work out for Sadler at NU, I'm sure he'll drop back down to the mid-major level and achieve mightily with a Missouri Valley or Conference USA team.  He's a helluva coach, but you have to be able to coach and recruit in the Big 12, and he hasn't proven he can do that.

Oklahoma (1-15)

What I said a month ago:

It's already been a rather ugly offseason for OU (following an ugly regular season), and things could be just getting started.  Tommy Mason-Griffin decided to go pro despite not being on anybody's Top 100 draft lists, and now it appears that Tiny Gallon may have received money from somebody tied to the OU program.  His eligibility will be in question for a while, as will Willie Warren's, considering a) there was at least a rumor that he may have been tied to money too, and b) he could still decide to declare for the draft.  Gallon and Warren could both return in 2010-11 ... and neither could return.

My guess: I'm not confident in this at all, but I'll conservatively say that Gallon's done and Warren returns.  It's pretty clear that OU will try to sign more players this spring -- there are still quite a few uncommitted players on OU's offer list.  As commits come in and we find out about Warren/Gallon, we'll adjust these projections, but for now ... yeah, they're REALLY ugly.

Hooray!  Oklahoma's going to be able to field a team next year!  It was getting dicey for a while, as both Tiny Gallon and Willie Warren joined Tommy Mason-Griffin in stupidly declaring for the NBA Draft and hiring agents.  There could still be more to come from GallonWasWiredMoney-gate, and it could get ugly, but at least Jeff Capel has secured some JUCO signees and will be able to put five players on the court while still having people sitting next to him on the bench.  So they've got THAT going for them.

Something else they've got going for them: they're not projected to win -1 games anymore!

Player 09-10
Cade Davis (6'5, 199, Sr.) 0.33 0.33 9.9
Andrew Fitzgerald (6'8, 258, So.) 0.30 0.33 8.8
C.J. Washington (6'7, 210, Jr.) N/A 0.33 7.9
Steven Pledger (6'4, 217, So.) 0.24 0.28 7.8
T.J. Taylor (6'3, 205, Fr.) N/A 0.28 7.1
Carl Blair (6'2, 205, So.) N/A 0.26 3.4
Kyle Hardrick (6'8, 229, So.) 0.21 0.26 2.7
Cameron Clark (6'7, 200, Fr.) N/A 0.28 2.7
Calvin Newell (6'0, 180, Fr.) N/A 0.23 2.4
Tyler Neal (6'6, 175, Fr.) N/A 0.18 2.3
TOTAL 57.9

Other rotation candidates: Nick Thompson (6'8, 240, Jr.), Abdi Ahmed (6'10, 215, Fr.), walk-on Ryan Randolph (6'4, 190, RSFr.), walk-on T.J. Franklin (5'11, 166, Jr.).

T.J. Taylor and Cameron Clark are both 4-star signees, which is nice ... but they'll still only be freshmen next year, as will Newell, Ahmed and Neal.  Meanwhile, OU will be hoping for more immediate help from JUCO transfers Washington and Thompson and New Orleans transfer Carl Blair.  One problem: only Washington (19 PPG, 13 RPG at Connors State) produced any notable stats whatsoever.  Blair could be interesting -- he averaged 9 PPG, 4 RPG and 4 APG as a freshman last year at UNO (he's eligible to play immediately because UNO is dropping to Division III) ... but that's UNO.  That's only worth maybe 5 PPG, 2 RPG and 2 APG in the Big 12.  Those are suitable stats for a backup point guard ... but OU needs starters, not backups.  Meanwhile, Thompson 9 PPG and 4 RPG at Eastern Utah College last year.  Color me unimpressed.

I'm curious to see how things play out for Capel next year.  Assuming the Tiny Gallon incident doesn't land them on probation, I think Capel might as well be given an extra year even if OU goes something ridiculous, like 8-22 or something this year.  They're going to be so unbelievably young in 2010-11 that, if you're going to keep him now, you might as well keep him then too.


So there you go.  Barring something crazy, those are your final projections for the 2010-11 season (if Pilgrim does indeed end up leaving OSU, I'll post some sort of small addendum).  As I've mentioned before, the likelihood of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri actually combining to go 40-8 isn't high, simply because they'll go 6-6 against each other, meaning they'd have to go 34-2 against everybody else.  Even if they really are the three best teams in the conference by a good margin, 34-2 is beyond doubtful.  Anyway, it's going to be a fun season, but luckily we've got football to distract us until then.