Here's my projected final standings and some comments on each of the women's basketball teams in the Big 12:
1. Baylor (15-1)
I don't know who will beat Baylor, but I do think somebody will. The Aggies could take a bite out of Baylor, or someone else could surprise them. After all, Baylor lost to Missouri last year. It's the Big 12, and anything can happen. A loss to A&M or any other South Division team wouldn't be unprecedented or all that surprising.
The Lady Bears are led by Brittney Griner’s 21.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game. She is followed by Odyssey Sims’ 12.4 points per contest. Baylor is ranked No. 1 in the country entering its opener against No. 17 Iowa State.
2. Texas A&M (13-3)
Ranked seventh in the country, the Aggies are so skilled at every part of the floor. Senior Danielle Adams averages a league-best 22.6 points per game. Sydney Colson leads the league with 6.7 assists per game, and Sydney Carter isn't too far behind.
A&M ranks first in turnover margin and steals, and second in assist-to-turnover ratio.
3. Oklahoma (11-5)
In my mind, the return of Whitney Hand moved Oklahoma from a 'could finish top three' to 'likely will finish top three.' Hand missed 401 days after suffering an ACL tear last season. She scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds. Talk about not taking it slow!
4. Iowa State (10-6)
Texas was the coaches’ choice for the fourth spot in the preseason poll, but I think Iowa State has the edge. The Cyclones’ two non-conference losses came to Iowa and West Virginia, but they have quality wins against Michigan, TCU and Virginia.
Iowa State is allowing merely 50 points per game on defense, which ranks third in the Big 12 behind OSU and Baylor, both of whom had less challenging schedules.
5. Texas (9-7)
The Longhorns have remained stout offensively despite the loss of Cokie Reed before the season. They lead the Big 12 in scoring at 87 points per game.
But Texas ranks last defensively, allowing 66 points. Opponents are shooting 37.3 percent, which also ranks worst in the league.
6. Kansas (9-7)
This is where predicting starts to get really difficult. Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Nebraska could find themselves in any of these spots assuming all remain healthy, which is certainly not a guarantee. The Jayhawks know all about that after missing Angel Goodrich and Danielle McCray last season, when they were ranked for much of the non-conference schedule before falling off and going 5-11 in the Big 12.
Carolyn Davis, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward, has scored at least 20 points seven times and is averaging 19.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The Jayhawks have the second-best shooting percentage in the country at 49.5.
7. Texas Tech (7-9)
I picked Tech to get seven wins and reach the tournament last season. Whoops. Tech was certainly capable of reaching seven wins, but some bad luck and just plain bad games got in the way.
I think Tech can, and will, win all of their home games except for the two against Texas A&M and Baylor. The Lady Raiders could just as well be a nine-win team if they can grab road wins against Nebraska and Kansas, a feat that is certainly in the realm of possibility. A 7-9 conference season would make Tech 20-10 and a lock to make the NCAAs for the first time since 2005.
8. Nebraska (7-9)
This is certainly not the same Cornhuskers team that went 16-0 in the Big 12 last year. All-American Kelsey Griffin is gone, leaving a young – but dangerous – team. Freshman Jordan Hooper leads Big 12 freshmen in rebounding, and sophomore Lindsey Moore is the new starting point guard. She’s averaging 11 points per game.
The Huskers battled some inconsistency during the non-conference season, picking up nice wins against Miami and Creighton, but falling to Houston, Marist and Louisville in three consecutive games during a holiday tournament.
9. Oklahoma State (6-10)
Oklahoma State is going through a similar transition as Nebraska. The offense was funneled through senior Andrea Riley last year. With her out of the equation, the Cowgirls are switching to a defensive focus.
Their defense ranks first in the Big 12 at 47 points per game. But OSU has the 336th-ranked strength of schedule. Its best wins came at New Mexico and at home against Arkansas-Little Rock and Wisconsin. The Cowgirls, like many others this season, were blown out by Duke for their lone non-conference loss.
10. Kansas State (4-12)
I don’t usually like to compare results, because it doesn’t usually provide much information. But the fact that the Wildcats were blown out by a UTSA team that Tech absolutely thrashed has to say something. Kansas State ranks last or near last in every significant offensive category.
11. Missouri (3-13)
The Tigers are always good for a few surprises. They beat Baylor last year in the biggest upset of the Big 12 season and downed Georgetown earlier this season for their signature non-conference victory.
But Mizzou also lost to Eastern Illinois, leaving plenty to be desired. First-year coach Robin Pingeton gave the Tigers one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the NCAA, which could pay dividends down the road. But until their 42 percent shooting and 28 percent 3-point shooting improves, they’ll have a hard time beating anyone in the Big 12 with any consistency.
12. Colorado (2-14)
The Buffs also have a first-year coach in Linda Lappe, but unlike Missouri, were hardly challenged during the non-conference season. Colorado ranks 10th in scoring offense despite playing against the 298th-ranked strength of schedule.
Brittany Spears and Chucky Jeffery return to lead the offense, averaging 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Agree? Disagree? Let the arguments begin.