The Pre-Season is wrapping up and the first day of competition is rapidly approaching this Thursday August 18th when it all kicks off. The Big 12 had only two teams to reach the NCAA Tournament last season which was very uncharastic because the last normal season Pre-Covid in 2019 they had 6 teams in. They have consistently had 5 teams or more into the NCAA Tournament in recent years and this year should return to normalcy. In the history of the Conference they have had one team reach the College the Cup back in 2016 when the West Virginia Mountaineers lost to USC in the semis who went on to be National Champions. TCU is moving fast right now and is a strong candidate to make it number 2.
TCU and Head Coach Bell and his staff go into the 2022 season with a very strong returning team that had 19 wins, the best in program history. They reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and lost on PKs in an extremely competitive game at Rutgers. They did the double winning the Big 12 Conference and Big 12 Tournament. In the final third the Horned Frogs have a trio of returning attacking threats with Bright, Lancaster and Brian that total up to 35 goals 28 assists between them and they also have the Big 12 Goalkeeper of the Year in Kellett. In Non-Conference they have five NCAA Tournament opponents with four of them at home Wisconsin, Santa Clara, Duke and Harvard this could give them the opportunity to have a stronger RPI and get an even higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. This all adds to if TCU stays focused and executes throughout the season they will have a strong ability to be playing at Cary in December for the College Cup.
Texas returns a strong competitive roster too with quality and depth. They will be looking to get back to the NCAAs for the 16th time in program history. In Non-Conference they take on one NCAA opponent
UNC this will be a good challenge to prepare them for the BIG 12 opening on the road against, you guessed it, TCU. This should have major Big 12 championship implications with the only two teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season matching up.
West Virginia were on a 21 year consecutive NCAA Tournament run which is outstanding and with a 45 RPI last season they look likely to make it 22 but the committee did not select them. They had 3 top 50 RPI ties and no top 50 RPI wins which most likely is how the committee made their decision. Head Coach Izzo-Brown will look to have the Mountaineers ready to go back to the high level consistency which has made them an elite program for the past two decades. In Non-Conference they will play three NCAA Tournament opponents, two of them on the road at Penn St and Georgetown that will get them ready for the start of Big 12.
Oklahoma St finished 4th in the Big 12 and were a game or two from making the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time. The Cowboys return 6 starters and bring in 5 Division I transfers to strengthen their squad.
Seniors Dowell and Yochum will look to bring their goal production again this season to help lead the team in the Big 12 and get them back to the NCAA Tournament.
Baylor was a team of two seasons last year after their first 12 games the Bears had a record of 7-2-3 during that stretch they went undefeated against 2021 NCAA Tournament opponents 2-0-1 with a massive win against TCU on the road which was their only loss in Conference, the final 7 games was not the same finishing 1-3-3. Now under new Head Coach Lenard she will look to find consistency throughout the year to get them to the NCAA Tournament for the 7th time in program history. They will play three NCAA Tournament opponents in Non-Conference from last season against UNC, Wisconsin and SMU this will help them be ready to start the Big 12.
Texas Tech and Head Coach Stone’s Non-Conference record of 7-2-2 was competitive, in the Big 12 they went 4-4-1 which left them with only one way into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big 12 Tournament. They beat the Cowboys 5-4 on PKs in the 1st round but then ran into TCU who ended their season. The Red Raiders over the last ten years have been very competitive reaching the NCAAs 7 times and won the Big 12 Tournament in 2015. The culture is strong in Lubbock and they should be in the minds of the 2022 NCAA Selection Committee; the challenge can they solidify themselves in the bracket.
Kansas, searching for their 10th NCAA Berth, plays 3 NCAA Tournament opponents in Non-Conference to measure themselves for the Big 12. Head Coach Francis’ team in 2021 were inconsistent and had -5 GD last season figuring out the defensive side of the game seems to be the main focus for 2022.
Oklahoma ended the 2021 season with -14 GD and this season the team brings in a lot of new faces coming into Norman. The focus most likely for the Sooners is to create a stronger defensive culture during Pre-Season camp that will give them an opportunity to move up the Big 12.
Iowa St are still looking for a consistent competitive culture and with only one berth to the NCAA Tournament back in 2005 Head Coach Fannon is in the rebuilding phase. They only scored 10 goals last season but they snuck into the Big 12 Tournament and went toe to toe with TCU only to lose 3-2 on Pks which indicates the Cyclones are building in Ames.
Kansas St are still a very young program and are entering their 7 season of existence and are playing catch up. Last season they had some positive signs with a three game undefeated stretch in the Big 12 with a win against Kansas and two ties against Baylor and West Virginia.
Everything in the Big 12 will start with TCU and whether another program can take away their dominance from last season. We should see stronger RPIs this season from top to bottom and this should have a positive mathematical effect for the rest of Conference come selection time.
Sunday October 16th Baylor at West Virginia 2:00 PM EST ESPNU