Come And Take It

One of the most astonishing stats in college basketball has undoubtedly got to be the Kansas Jayhawks run of eight straight Big 12 regular season championships. The dominance the program has had on the league usually means teams are competing for second place more years than not.

One of the most astonishing stats in college basketball has undoubtedly got to be the Kansas Jayhawks run of eight straight Big 12 regular season championships. The dominance the program has had on the league usually means teams are competing for second place more years than not.

This season may be the ultimate, as several factors have led to the league being in a so-called down year, at least for every other school not named Kansas.

In Lawrence, basketball excellence is common place. There, fans don't just talk about winning the league, they expect it. Instead, fans are talking about a possible return to the Final Four and the thoughts of winning their first National Championship since 2008.

Still, head coach Bill Self will never take the conference, or winning it for granted. Self and his program have always shown tremendous respect for all and it's that attitude that has fostered a winning culture at KU.

The sentiment is a little different for the players in that they feel it is there duty to deliver a ninth straight league crown.

"I hate to say this, I think it's more of a responsibility, I really do," Self said. "This, from a motivation standpoint, everyone wants to motivate from an opportunity standpoint. We have a chance to do something special. I think that we all want to do that. There's also a responsibility that we don't want to get ours butts beat and certainly be the team that doesn't do it. So, I think we're motivated both ways to be quite candid."

Across the league, there's ample change with the losses of Texas A&M and Missouri, the latter could have posed a challenge. The new programs are different in that TCU is a ways behind as a program and West Virginia, though typically very strong is rebuilding.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma are a ways behind and hope to get back into the middle tier of the league before challenging.

Elsewhere, that middle tier is crowded and has a number of teams that can challenge, but it's anyone's guess who will be where between Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Iowa State.

The Longhorns are extremely young and they are not even a guarantee to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The Cowboys have talent, but are also somewhat young. At home they can be dangerous though, as they proven over the years.

The Wildcats have changed coaches from Frank Martin to Bruce Weber and it still remains to be seen if they will gel completely to make another run led by Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling.

As for the Cyclones, Fred Hoiberg has rekindled some of the "Hilton Magic" in 2012, as Iowa State reached the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kentucky.

This year, he has one of the highest scoring team in the country, let alone the league, led by former Michigan State standout Korie Luscious.

Baylor may or may not be slightly above that group, but we'll see how serious of a challenger they are when they visit Allen Fieldhouse next Monday night.

In the end, though it's just simply Kansas and everyone else and the Jayhawks embrace the opportunity to deliver another conference title. From there, that could just be the start of another fun March and early April.


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