TCU - Remember when ol' Billy Tubbs was coaching the Horned Frogs? If you do, you remember the last time TCU was in the NCAA tournament: 1998. If you think that's bad, consider that TCU hired current coach Trent Johnson after ex-Frogs coach Jim Christian left the program to take over at Ohio University. Not Ohio State, but Ohio U. Oddly, though, Johnson left LSU to take over at TCU. Is this a wacky world or what?
OKLAHOMA STATE - The Cowboys are a fascinating story. The coach there is former Kentucky player Travis Ford. (You might also remember him in the movie "The Sixth Man.") But he's been on the hot seat of late. Ford landed 6-foot-7 Le'Bryan Nash, a former McDonald's All-American, last season with limited results. He did, however, add another flashy recruit in guard Marcus Smart, who turned down North Carolina, Kansas and Texas. It's helped. Smart has scored 48 points on 61.5 percent shooting in the last two games and the Cowboys are 10-3 with wins over Tennessee and N.C. State. But they've lost those last two (to Gonzaga and K-State) as well as one to (drum roll) Virginia Tech.
KANSAS - Even if you're simply a casual fan you should know the Jayhawks are the class of the Big 12. Currently ranked No. 6, Kansas is 12-1 and hosts Iowa State tonight. You should know coach Bill Self. You might know about big man Jeff Withey. But store this in your noggin: Freshman guard Ben McLemore has been so good that some are wondering if he could be the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick this year. He's averaging 15.6 points.
TEXAS TECH - While the Texas story line is about the player that's not there, the Texas Tech story line is about the coach that's not there. You might remember Billy Clyde Gillispie. He went from Texas A&M to Kentucky to Tech to out amid allegations of mistreatment. The man in charge on an interim basis is Chris Walker, a former Villanova assistant. In sum, though, Tech basketball is bad. A click (maybe) above TCU.
BAYLOR - BU had an awful scandal in the early 2000s that involved the death of player Patrick Dennehy. Coach Dave Bliss was ousted. But current coach Scott Drew has been impressive turning around the program. The Bears won 30 games last season and went to the NCAA South regional finals behind Perry Jones III. Jones, though, is gone and Baylor is 9-4 with losses to the College of Charleston and Northwestern. Drew does have a future NBA pick in 7-foot Isaiah Austin, now averaging 8.9 rebounds.
So there you have it. Your Big 12 primer as WVU heads into the meat of its conference schedule. Hope it helps.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.