Kansas won at least a share of the Big 12 Conference 15 times under Bill Self from 2004-2019, including a stretch in which it secured 14-straight regular-season championships during a dominant run unparalleled in the modern era of men's college basketball. Since then, it has alternated between finishing multiple games off the pace of first place and winning the league by multiple games. Our staff thinks that trend could hold steady in the 2021-22 college basketball season after finishing second in the league a year ago to Baylor by three games in the regular season.
In a 3-2 margin, our team voted Kansas as the top team in our Big 12 preseason poll, narrowly edging out Texas and first-year coach Chris Beard as he takes over after a successful stint at Texas Tech. Both teams were voted either first or second-place by our panel. Meanwhile, reigning Big 12 and national champion Baylor is a unanimous preseason No. 3 with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech rounding out the top half of our consensus ballot.
Kansas has the goods, too, because it is also represented by our preseason pick for the league's player of the year. Arizona State transfer Remy Martin is our panel's pick to take the award left behind by former Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham. Martin is coming off a junior season at ASU in which he averaged 19.1 points and 3.7 assists, and he steps into a starting role on a loaded roster that returns four starters.
Below is the rest of how our team voted.
CBS Sports Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year
Remy Martin, Kansas
A year ago at this time, Martin was considered the frontrunner to win Pac-12 Player of the Year. Now, he's the early favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year. The super-senior averaged 19.1 points and 3.7 assists per game for the Sun Devils last season, and steps into a starring role in Lawrence, Kansas, with an already-established roster around him. With four returning starters by his side, his shot-making and creation ability from the lead guard spot should help catalyze this KU team that last season was in desperate need of a lead guard with his skill set.
CBS Sports Big 12 Preseason Coach of the Year
Chris Beard, Texas
Since becoming a head coach for the first time six seasons ago, Beard has averaged nearly 24 wins per season, won two regular-season championships, twice earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors and, in the process, rose Texas Tech to new heights -- first to a program-first Elite Eight appearance then to a national final game the following year. So, yeah, he was worth the Brinks truck Texas backed up to bring him to Austin, Texas. And even in the first year of a new venture with the Longhorns, he's got a veteran squad loaded with transfers that looks a worthy challenger to Kansas on paper.
CBS Sports Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year
Kendall Brown, Baylor
Baylor's title-winning roster from a season ago is replacing four starters. So Brown, who was ranked No. 13 in the last recruiting cycle, is in a spot where he's both talented enough to play early and where he's likely to be called upon to contribute early. With a 6-foot-8 frame and the skill set of a slasher and connector, he should be a good fit next to established vets Matthew Mayer, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Adam Flagler.
CBS Sports Big 12 Predicted order of finish
The consensus order as voted by our experts with how they voted below
|Continuity is king in college basketball, and Bill Self has it in spades. The Jayhawks return starters Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, David McCormack and Jalen Wilson. They've also added a quartet of transfers in Remy Martin, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Joseph Yesufu and Cam Martin, who should help right away.|
|It's hard to win in the Big 12 -- and especially early -- but Chris Beard had no trouble doing it at Texas Tech and should find instant success now at Texas. The program has seven newcomers, six of whom are transfers with valuable experience. Don't expect Beard to waste time making an immediate impression in his new digs.|
|The reigning Big 12 and national champion Bears return Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer as the core of a roster that last season was the best 3-point shooting team in America and one of the best offensive units to boot. The addition of James Akinjo should keep this team in the mix as a top-3 team in the league capable of repeating as regular-season champs -- something no team outside Kansas has done since Iowa State in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.|
|Mike Boynton and his staff adapted as well as any to the new landscape in college athletics this offseason with the addition of four transfers -- including two former five-star talents in Bryce Thompson and Moussa Cisse. While the Cowboys are replacing No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, Avery Anderson is in line to be the face of a team that's long, tall and athletic enough to potentially own the best defense in the league.|
|The elevation of Mark Adams to head coach for Texas Tech ensures continuity within the program and should keep this team operating as one of the best on defense in the country. With Terrence Shannon Jr. back and ORU transfer Kevin Obanor joining the fold, there shouldn't be a major drop-off in competitiveness in the wake of Beard's departure.|
|West Virginia's two best players -- Miles McBride and Derek Culver -- turned pro, yet Bob Huggins, as usual, will still field another competitive team that should be NCAA Tournament-good. The Mountaineers return two double-digit scorers in Taz Sherman and sharpshooter Sean McNeil, and buzz is emanating from Morgantown about the development of sophomore Jalen Bridges.|
|Lon Kruger the legend rode off into the retirement sunset, but in comes Porter Moser from Loyola Chicago who has invigorated the fanbase early on in his tenure. It just may take some time to build and sustain the way he did with the Ramblers after OU lost its three leading scorers from a season ago. This should be a fiesty team nonetheless in the mold of Moser with transfers Jordan Goldwire and Tanner Groves set to help from Day One.|
|On the heels of a stellar freshman season, Mike Miles leads a TCU team, headlined by leading scorer RJ Nembhard and leading rebounder Kevin Samuel, into 2021-22 as one of my breakout picks of the season. He had a strong showing in the U19 World Cup and should be in line to lead this team -- flush with new faces and inexperience -- in scoring and assists as he takes on a bigger role in the program.|
|It has not been pretty for Bruce Weber of late as he enters the season on the hot seat -- Kansas State is 21 games below .500 the last two seasons -- but at the very least he's retained key pieces from last season. With Nijel Pack, Mike McGuirl, Selton Miguel and Davion Bradford returning, the Wildcats have key pieces in place to improve after a 9-20 campaign. We'll see how Weber does with his back against the wall.|
|Optimism abounds in Ames under new coach T.J. Otzelberger, but there's a long rebuild ahead. Iowa State is coming off a 2-22 campaign under Steve Prohm, its lowest win total in a season since the 1920s, so we expect it'll take time to build the program to Otzelberger's standards.|
Most overrated team
Kansas is No. 1 in our Big 12 rankings and No. 3 in the AP Top 25, so I don't have some wild misgivings about its potential this season. With most of its core returning, this team should be very good. I just need to see it in action to really believe it. The loss of Marcus Garrett is a significant one I don't think we're fully appreciating, and the addition of Remy Martin is one I think we may be over-appreciating. We'll see. I still think Texas winds up as the class of the conference.
Most underrated team
Chris Beard gets the majority of the credit for Texas Tech's success in recent years, and rightfully so, but we should keep in mind here that the program's best asset of late, its defense, has been credited largely to new coach Mark Adams. Now Adams takes the reins and inherits a star to build around in Terrence Shannon Jr. along with two Kevins in Obanor and McCullar. I trust this program will continue humming along at a nice pace even under a new coaching regime.