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Detour: Remember the Sport with the Orange Ball?

I hate to do this to you guys, what with kickoff less than two weeks away and this blog firmly enmeshed in the Kellis Crisis.

But there's a fascinating newcomer to the SB Nation, and they've sent out an early request for preseason basketball predictions. Now, I'm looking forward to football season as much as the next guy, but basketball - and specifically, Big 12 basketball - are my lifeblood on this blog. The upcoming football season, more than any before it, is really just a mildly filling appetizer compared to the main course that's going to follow.

So J-Lounge, if you're over here looking for that last, perfect link to complete your daily digest, hit the jump for some Way-Too-Early Big 12 Basketball Predictions. You know, basketball? 'Tis the sport of morons, green cards, poorly-coached teams and streaks!

Here's the letter we got from Big 12 Hoops:


Sorry to send this out to everyone, this is just for the Big 12 guys. (Not aware of there being a Big 12 only e-mail. Please let me know if there is.)

I run the new Big12Hoops site, and I'm in the process of previewing each Big 12 men's hoops team. I know it's early, but I'd like compile an all-conference team voted on by the SB Nation Big 12 writers. I'm new here, so if this is something you guys already have planned to run later in the year, then just let me know and I will hold off. If anything though, this can be a pre-pre-season team.

If it's okay with everyone, I plan on publishing this on my site within the next week or two. Please think over the questions listed below and send back in the next week or so...(Note that multiple writers from one site can send their own list in. It's your discretion. Also, you can vote for players from the school you cover, just try to be as objective as possible.)

Projected Big XII Standings (1 thru 12)
Top incoming recruiting class (one school)
Projected NCAA Tourney teams--
Projected NIT teams--
Most Improved Team--(one school)
Big XII Player of the Year--
Big XII Newcomer of the Year (non-freshmen)--
Big XII Freshman of the Year--
Big XII Defensive POY--
Big XII First Team; Second Team; Third Team
Big XII All-Newcomer Team (include freshmen)

Thanks so much guys. I know it can be difficult sometime to come up with such a comprehensive list long before the start of the season. Let me know if you have any questions.

And here's my picks:

1. Kansas
2. Kansas State
3. Texas
4. Oklahoma
5. Oklahoma State
6. Baylor
7. Missouri
8. Texas A&M
9. Iowa State
10. Texas Tech
11. Nebraska
12. Colorado

I know Rivals rankings aren't everything, but my Top 6 all have Top 25 classes coming in, and the bottom half doesn't. Maybe the mainstream media will swap K-State and Texas, but we own the Chisholm Trail Rivalry. I ain't buying it.

As for the rest:

Top incoming recruiting class: Tie between Kansas State and Oklahoma State

All of the top half added great players, so to me, it's more about quantity and addressing needs. OSU added seven, plus the Kentucky transfer that just got a waiver; we added six. More importantly, OSU got guards and depth to run Ford's system, and we got actual post threats, which were all we were missing last season.

Projected NCAA Tourney teams: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Missouri, maybe Texas A&M on the bubble

That's right. Seven. This will be the deepest the Big 12 has even been and we will set a record for teams in the Dance.

Projected NIT teams: probably Texas A&M, Iowa State, maybe Texas Tech

Most Improved Team: I've got Baylor jumping from 9th to 6th, but I could see them as high as 4th. They really showed me something in the postseason last year, although they did lose some key players. As a corollary - and I know he didn't ask this - but the team that will take the biggest freefall has to be Mizzou. Lost 50+% of their production in all statistical categories from a team that overachieved in the first place. But I think they have enough talent left to still be in the dance - just not a first-round bye in the Big 12.

Big XII Player of the Year: Unfortunately, Cole Aldrich. Just prepare yourself for it now.

Big XII Newcomer of the Year: Curtis Kelly, dammit. Honorable mention to Jeff Withey, I guess.

Big XII Freshman of the Year: Unfortunately, Xavier Henry. Just prepare yourself for it now. But Avery Bradley and Wally Judge will make it interesting to the end...

Big XII Defensive POY: I think this is the year the coaches finally recognize Dominique Sutton's greatness. Honorable mention to J.T. Tiller, of course.

Big XII First Team (for these, I mostly just promoted everyone up the chart from my Botcies in March; it's all meaningless preseason stuff anyway)
G-Denis Clemente
G-Sherron Collins
G-Willie Warren
F-Craig Brackins
C-Cole Aldrich

Big XII Second Team
G-LaceDarius Dunn
G-J.T. Tiller
G/F-Xavier Henry
F-James Anderson
C-Dexter Pittman

Big XII Third Team
G-Avery Bradley
G-Jacob Pullen
G-Tyshawn Taylor
F-Damion James
F-Curtis Kelly

Big XII All-Newcomer Team: you guys know I hate putting transfers on these things, so I didn't
G-Avery Bradley
G-Tommy Mason-Griffin
G/F-Xavier Henry
F-Wally Judge
C-Keith Gallon

I'm sure some of you will disagree with certain picks, so let's get a back-and-forth going in the comments. If nothing else, it will help us get our minds off how bad the Eagle sucks.

P.S. If you happen to wander over to Big 12 Hoops, be sure to vote in this poll. We're getting killed, people.