Sooner Men’s Basketball Picked to Finish 2nd in Big 12


Could this be another season in which the Sooner men’s basketball team achieves a higher conference and national standing than its longtime prestige-branded big brother: OU football?

It’s beginning to look like that is a good possibility, especially if you have trust in what the Big 12 coaches and other head coaches around the country are saying about the coming 2015-16 season, which tips off, believe it or not, in less than a month.

Mar 22, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Buddy Hield (24) goes up for a shot while guarded by Dayton Flyers guard Jordan Sibert (24) during the second half in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the Big 12 basketball coaches picked the Sooners to finish second in the Big 12 this season behind the 11-time defending conference champion Kansas Jayhawks.

The voting by the 10 league men’s coaches was conducted on the basis of nine points for first place, eight points for second, and so forth. Kansas received nine first-place votes and a total 81 overall, 11 better than the second-place Sooners. Iowa State received one first-place vote and finished third in the balloting with a total of 68 points. Rounding out the top five teams were Texas and Baylor.

Oklahoma returns four starters from last year’s 23-win squad, including Big 12 Player of the Year and the conference’s leading scorer a year ago, Buddy Hield. The Sooners finished last season in a tie for second place in the league standings with Iowa State and advanced to the Sweet 16 round in the NCAA Tournament.

The Sooners return 75 percent of their scoring and 69 percent of their rebounding from last year’s team.

OU head coach Lon Kruger is in his fifth season. His Sooner teams are 82-49 over the last four college basketball campaigns. He has led the Sooners to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, and in each of his four previous seasons Oklahoma has finished higher than its preseason projection by the Big 12 coaches.

Last season, the Sooners were picked in the preseason to finish third and ended up tied for second in the conference race. In 2013-14, they were projected to finish fifth and were in second place at season’s end; in 2012-13, the coached picked OU as the seventh-place team prior to the season and the Sooners finished fifth; and in 2011-12, Kruger’s first season in Norman, Oklahoma was projected to finish ninth but ended the year one place higher, in eighth.

USA Today also came out with its preseason top-25 rankings on Thursday. The Sooners are ranked No. 8 and one of three Big 12 teams in the preseason top 10. Kansas is No. 5 in the USA Today rankings, and Iowa State is at No. 7, despite the fact that the Sooners are projected higher than the Cyclones in the Big 12 coaches’ preseason poll.

The Sooners begin the 2015-16 men’s basketball season on Nov. 13 on the road at Memphis.

Big 12 2015-16 Preseason Men’s Basketball Poll

1. Kansas Jayhawks (9 first place voted, 81 total)

2. Oklahoma Sooners (70 points)

3. Iowa State Cyclones (1 first-place vote, 68 total)

4. Texas Longhorns (51)

5. Baylor Bears (49)

6. West Virginia Mountaineers (47)

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (33)

8T. Kansas State Wildcats (18)

8T. TCU Horned Frogs (18)

10. Texas Tech Red Raiders (15)