*Oklahoma lost Blake Griffin, which removes them from the list of national contenders. But Jeff Capel still has a nice team to work with, led up by a backcourt of Tony Crocker and Willie Warren. The Sooners will finish no worse than third in this league and will be tough to handle for anyone in Norman.
*Oklahoma State’s been a consistent contender, and former Kentucky point guard Travis Ford is in his second year at the helm. He’s got three good swingmen to work with this year. Success will depend on at least getting a solid point guard to orchestrate the offense.
*Texas A&M did better than Billy Gillespie did after the latter bolted for Kentucky two years ago. The Aggies are still going to NCAA Tournaments and they have a shot to continue that. Their team makeup is similar to Oklahoma State’s.
*Kansas State is a live darkhorse. They bounced back quickly last season from the loss of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. This year they’ve got three starters back. Unlike the two teams that precede them in this look-in, they’ve got a quality point guard to run the offense in Jacob Pullen and a big man who can bang in Luc Colon. In a league that’s rewarded size in recent years, the latter can’t be underestimated.
*Missouri had a big year in 2009, challenging for the conference title and eventually reaching the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament. But the losses are big, with DeMare Carroll and Leo Lyons taking 30 ppg with them, and Mizzou will have fight to hold off teams like Okie State, A&M and K-State to maintain their standing.
Elsewhere around the league, Nebraska is a possible NIT contender, while Iowa State lost too much to contend for much of anything. Perhaps the most interesting story will be in Lubbock. Pat Knight has everyone back in the fold and after a rough year in ’09, this is his chance to prove he can be the Michael Corleone of college basketball, stepping in to take over the Family business after the legendary don retired.
For November tournaments, it’s pretty quiet in this league. Texas A&M’s appearance in the 76 Classic in Anaheim over Thanksgiving weekend is the only notable one.