IRVING, Texas – For the 15th time in the 21-year history of the Big 12, Kansas men’s basketball has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference regular-season championship as the league released its coaches’ preseason poll Thursday.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams in the poll and KU received a unanimous nine first-place votes and a total of 81 points. West Virginia was second in the poll receiving 65 points, followed by Texas (59), Iowa State (56) and Baylor (53). Oklahoma was sixth with 40 points, while Oklahoma State and Texas Tech tied for seventh with 32 points. Kansas State (20) and TCU (12) rounded out the coaches’ preseason poll.
Kansas has won, or tied for, 16 of the 20 Big 12 regular-season titles, including the last 12 consecutive, a streak which ranks second all-time in NCAA Division I history. Should the prediction happen, a 13th straight regular-season championship would tie the NCAA record held by UCLA from 1967-79.
KU will have four of its top six scorers back from a 2015-16 squad that posted its 11th-straight campaign with 25 or more victories, finishing 33-5 overall and 15-3 in league play. Leading the way are guards Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, who were recently named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. Senior forward Landen Lucas joins Mason and Graham as a returning starter. The Jayhawks also welcome freshman Josh Jackson, touted by several outlets as the No. 1 recruit in the nation. As a senior at Prolific Prep, he averaged 26.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 2015-16.
Historically, the preseason favorite has gone on to finish first in the regular season 13 times, which does not include 1996-97 as a coaches’ poll was not conducted. Kansas has been the preseason favorite in 12 of its 16 Big 12 regular-season titles, missing 1996-97 (no poll), 2005-06 (third) and 2010-11 (second).
2016-17 Big 12 Coaches’ Preseason Poll
Place. School (first-place votes) – total points
1. KANSAS (9) – 81
2. West Virginia – 65
3. Texas – 59
4. Iowa State (1) – 56
5. Baylor – 53
6. Oklahoma – 40
7. Oklahoma State – 32
7. Texas Tech – 32
9. Kansas State – 20
10. TCU – 12