Kansas City Welcomes New Coaches to the Strongest Basketball Conference in America
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mike Boynton’s journey as the head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Big 12 conference began with challenges and a baptism by fire. As the youngest head coach in the conference at the time, Boynton had to navigate the highly competitive landscape of the Power Five programs without any previous experience at the helm. Reflecting on his own first season, Boynton now ponders the entrance of four new coaches, Mark Pope from BYU, Wes Miller from Cincinnati, Johnny Dawkins from UCF, and Kelvin Sampson from Houston, and what they will face in the coming months.
According to Boynton, the addition of these new teams will continue to elevate the Big 12 conference to unprecedented levels of strength. With Sampson’s return to the Big 12 after a 12-year absence coaching at Oklahoma, the conference has undergone considerable change with the departure of old members and the arrival of new ones. Nevertheless, one thing remains constant: the Big 12’s status as the nation’s dominant basketball league.
While other conferences have had their moments, the recent achievements of the Big 12 cannot be ignored. Kansas and Baylor have won national championships in recent years, while Houston reached the Final Four during the COVID-19 bubble. In the last season, the Big 12 boasted seven of the top 25 teams and eight of the top 30 in the final KenPom rankings.
As these new teams enter the Big 12, they are expected to thrive in basketball, unlike their struggles in football. Houston, for example, has made the last five NCAA tournaments and has had deep runs in the tournament, including a Final Four appearance. Similarly, Cincinnati has a rich history with two national titles and has recently shown promise with an NIT quarterfinal appearance.
UCF and BYU have also made the NCAA Tournament in the past five years, indicating their ability to compete at a high level.
The excitement around the Big 12 is palpable. With a reputation for remarkable basketball and the addition of these new teams, the conference is poised for even greater success. Coaches like Scott Drew from Baylor envision a season where the Big 12 dominates the Final Four. Kansas is ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25, with Houston, Texas, and Baylor not far behind.
Indeed, the Big 12 offers a level of depth and longevity that sets it apart from other conferences. The Big East may claim to be the best conference in the country, but the Big 12’s proven track record and competitive environment cannot be denied.
While not everyone may agree, the Big 12 coaches, players, and fans take pride in their conference, knowing that they are part of the best basketball league in America.
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Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.