Most Big 12 men’s basketball head coaches expect a fresh face to stand tall come the upcoming regular season’s end.
Baylor has been projected as the conference favorite entering the 2020-21 campaign, slotted at the top of the Big 12 preseason poll released Thursday. The Bears (79 points), who received seven first-place votes from league head coaches, bested Kansas (73), which picked up the remaining three first-place votes.
Big 12 coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team in the poll.
The Jayhawks and Bears finished one-two in last year’s Big 12 race, respectively, with KU going 17-1 in conference play versus BU’s 15-3 mark. Scott Drew's squad handed Bill Self's team its only league defeat last season, a 67-55 outcome on Jan. 11 in Lawrence, but the Jayhawks finished the shortened season with 16 straight victories, including a 64-61 triumph over the Bears in Waco, Texas.
BU had never been atop a Big 12 preseason poll prior to Thursday, with second-place projections ahead of the 2012-13 and 2019-20 seasons the previous high marks. Meanwhile, KU’s streak of being picked to win every regular season title since 2011-12 came to an end.
KU and BU will square off Jan. 18 in Waco and Feb. 27 in Lawrence, the latter scheduled as the teams' regular-season finale. The Bears enter 2020-21 with the Big 12 preseason player of the year Jared Butler, while the Jayhawks are led by preseason All-Big 12 first-team pick Marcus Garrett.
West Virginia (61), Texas (58) and Texas Tech (53) rounded out the preseason poll’s top five, while Oklahoma (39), Oklahoma State (35), Iowa State (19), TCU (15) and Kansas State (15) made up the rest of the projected standings.