Bears picked over Jayhawks in preseason Big 12 poll

photo by: Associated Press

Baylor guard Jared Butler, right, shoots over Kansas guard Marcus Garrett, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)

For the first time in 10 years, a program other than Kansas has been picked to win the Big 12 men’s basketball title in 2020-21.

The Baylor Bears, many people’s preseason pick to be the No. 1 team in the country, edged out KU at the top of the Big 12 coaches poll on Thursday, picking up six more points (79-73) and four more first-place votes (7-3) than the second-place Jayhawks.

It marks the first time in school history that the Bears have been picked to win the conference and sets the stage for the two teams who battled it out for the 2019-20 title to deliver an encore performance during the upcoming season.

Kansas, which recently set an NCAA record with 14 consecutive regular season conference titles from 2005-18, has been picked to finish atop the Big 12 standings 19 times in the 25-year history of the conference.

In addition, KU has won 19 of the past 24 league titles, including last season’s title with a 17-1 record.

The Jayhawks’ only Big 12 loss during the 2019-20 season came to Baylor at home. And the Jayhawks got revenge for that setback with a win in Waco, Texas, later in the season, when the Bears were ranked No. 1 in the national polls.

Baylor finished the 2019-20 conference season two games behind Kansas at 15-3.

The league’s top two teams are scheduled for two more clashes this season, with KU traveling to Baylor on Jan. 18, 2021 for a Big Monday battle in Waco, and the Jayhawks hosting the Bears on Feb. 27, 2021 in the regular season finale for both teams.

Bob Huggins’ West Virginia squad was picked to finish in third place with 61 points, with Texas (58) and Texas Tech (53) rounding out the top five.

Oklahoma (39), Oklahoma State (35), Iowa State (19), TCU (18) and Kansas State (15) made up the bottom half of the preseason picks.

Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams, therefore each ballot consisted of just nine teams, with nine points going to first place, eight to second and so on down the line.

The Big 12 season is slated to open in mid-December, with all 10 teams playing two conference games before the end of the season.

KU will open at Texas Tech on Dec. 17 and will play host to West Virginia on Dec. 22 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The regular season is slated to begin Nov. 25.

2020-21 Big 12 Preseason Poll

1 – Baylor (7), 79

2 – Kansas (3), 73

3 – West Virginia, 61

4 – Texas, 58

5 – Texas Tech, 53

6 – Oklahoma, 39

7 – Oklahoma State, 35

8 – Iowa State, 19

9 – TCU, 18

10 – Kansas State, 15


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