Bill Self suggests Oklahoma State could be Big 12 favorite

March 07, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Markel Brown (22) dunks the ball as Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Clark Lammert (35) defends during the first half of the first round of the 2012 Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

The Kansas Jayhawks have won the last eight Big 12 regular season crowns.

In that span, there have been a handful of years where Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk were by no means prohibitive favorites coming into the season, yet entered post-season play with another trophy to add to their collection.

On Friday, head coach Bill Self suggested that this year's team in the best position to snap KU's streak could be Oklahoma State, Self's alma mater and school where he served as an assistant coach for seven seasons.

"I think Oklahoma State is going to be terrific," Self told ESPN's Andy Katz. "I think on paper they have the most talent with the kids they've signed and the kids [they have] returning."

And "on paper" may be the most appropriate way to describe how good the Cowboys roster is for the 2012-2013 season. As we've seen in the past from this program, talent doesn't always translate into wins, just as frequent roster turnover hasn't prevented Kansas from dominating the Big 12 for the better part of the last decade.

With sophomore Le'Bryan Nash, a former McDonalds All-American, returning, freshman Marcus Smart looking forward to living up to the hype, and junior Markel Brown poised to continue his growth as a player at both ends of the court, there's a case to be made that OSU will have the most explosive trio in college basketball next season.

That alone will create excitement and pressure from fans in Stillwater, especially after an off-season when saw a former player Darrell Williams was found guilty of rape. It's a fan base that would really appreciate something positive.

In four seasons with Travis Ford serving as head coach, Oklahoma State has finished no higher than tied for fourth place in the conference, even with players like James Anderson, Keiton Paige, Byron Eaton and Marshall Moses passing through the program. They're currently 31-35 in conference under Ford, with just one NCAA Tournament victory in two appearances.

So whether Self's kind words is wholly authentic or a simple attempt to alleviate some pressure on himself and players entering the season, the Cowboys are no doubt an intriguing team to focus on for next season.

Hopefully Ford is ready for the attention and inflated expectations, or at least ready to embrace early season praise from his peers.

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