The pollsters spoke loudly and clearly last week in anointing Kansas University’s men’s basketball team the runaway favorite to win the 2010 NCAA title.
Bill Self’s Jayhawks received 82 of a possible 96 first-place votes in topping the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN preseason Top 25s.
As far as how the rest of the Big 12 Conference fared in the polls … well, here’s a closer look.
Just two teams not named KU — Texas and Oklahoma — were ranked.
The Longhorns, who return Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Gary Johnson — and bring in No. 1-rated high school prospect Avery Bradley — were tapped third in both polls.
The Sooners, who lost the Griffin brothers, but return sophomore sensation Willie Warren, were picked 16th by the USA Today/ESPN coaches panel and 17th by the AP media group.
Here’s a look at the league teams that weren’t ranked, but at least received votes.
• Oklahoma State: Travis Ford’s second Cowboy squad, which is led by James Anderson and Obi Muonelo, was ranked No. 31 by USA Today/ESPN and No. 32 by the AP.
• Missouri: The Tigers, who lost DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, but return defensive whiz J.T. Tiller off last year’s Elite Eight team, were ranked No. 32 by USA Today/ESPN and No. 45 by the AP.
• Kansas State: The Wildcats, who return their top two scorers in Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen and bring in highly touted freshman forward Wally Judge, checked in at No. 39 by the AP and No. 40 by USA Today/ESPN.
• Texas A&M: Former KU player Mark Turgeon’s Aggies, who return double-digit scorers in Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, were ranked No. 44 by the AP and No. 47 by USA Today/ESPN.
So, seven of the league’s 12 teams received any mention at all. Iowa State was ignored, despite the presence of forward Craig Brackins, who averaged 20.2 points a game a year ago. He exploded for 42 points versus KU in Ames.
“I believe this is our league’s year,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I don’t think we’ll be talking about hopefully getting six in the (NCAA) tournament this March. It’ll be very disappointing to everybody if we do not have six to eight teams come March in the tournament.”
The league had six teams in the NCAAs a year ago: KU, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
“Arguably the best team in the country is Texas from a talent standpoint. They could win a national championship. What Jeff Capel and his staff have done at OU ... they are loaded. Mike’s group played unbelievable last year. They won 30-plus games,” Self added of Mike Anderson’s Missouri Tigers.
“The surprise team this year, even though it won’t be to the coaches, is K-State. You return what they do and add Wally Judge and a couple guys ... they are right at the top tier of our league from a talent standpoint.”
Judge is a 6-foot-9, 248-pound power forward from Arlington Country Day High School in Florida.
“A lot of people speak about a lot of freshmen, and most people leave him off their radar,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. “I’ve got a feeling a lot of people are going to be talking about him when the season concludes.”
Judge averaged 18.5 points and 17.1 rebounds his senior year. He was tapped a McDonald’s All-American along with KU’s Xavier Henry and Bradley, but couldn’t compete in the all-star game because of a back injury.
KU will open the exhibition season against Fort Hays State at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers return three starters off a 20-9 team that placed third in the 11-team Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. FHSU was picked third in the preseason conference media poll and fourth in the coaches poll.
“We’re going in (KU game) for the players to enjoy themselves,” ninth-year Fort Hays coach Mark Johnson told the Fort Hays State University Leader. “Getting to play in Allen Fieldhouse, in front of a lot of people, against the No. 1-ranked team in the country ... we prepare like any other game, but I think really it’s about the players getting to enjoy the experience.”