BYU men’s basketball has a tall task ahead of it to be competitive in its first year in the Big 12 Conference, and the league’s preseason coaches poll reflects that.

The Cougars were projected to finish 13th — or one spot out of last — in the preseason poll released Friday morning, garnering just 29 points.

Kansas is the favorite to win, earning 12 of the 14 first-place votes and 168 total points.

That is just ahead of Big 12 newcomer Houston, who is second with the other two first-place votes and 153 points.

The other three new Big 12 schools, including BYU, appear near the bottom of the preseason poll, with Cincinnati in 11th and UCF at the bottom at No. 14.

Those low expectations for BYU are understandable, considering the Cougars are entering arguably the sport’s toughest conference.

The Big 12 sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, with two making the Elite Eight, and two of the past three national champions (Kansas and Baylor) are Big 12 members. Newcomer Houston was a No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

BYU is also coming off a 19-15 season where it had a losing record in West Coast Conference play.

That sets up a huge challenge for Mark Pope in his fifth season as the Cougars’ head coach, though his team returns nearly 70% of its scoring production from last year with guys like Fousseyni Traore, Dallin Hall, Spencer Johnson and Jaxson Robinson all back in Provo.

After Kansas and Houston at the top, future SEC-bound Texas is projected to finish third in the Big 12 this season, followed by Baylor in fourth and TCU in fifth.

Big 12 men’s basketball preseason poll

  1. Kansas (12 first-place votes), 168 points.
  2. Houston (2), 153.
  3. Texas, 143.
  4. Baylor, 137.
  5. TCU, 113.
  6. Kansas State, 106.
  7. Iowa State, 95.
  8. Texas Tech, 80.
  9. West Virginia, 70.
  10. Oklahoma State, 57.
  11. Cincinnati, 55.
  12. Oklahoma, 54.
  13. BYU, 29.
  14. UCF, 14.

Big 12 men’s basketball preseason all-conference honors

  • Preseason player of the year: Hunter Dickinson, Kansas, center.
  • Preseason newcomer of the year: Hunter Dickinson, Kansas, center.
  • Preseason freshman of the year: Ja’Kobe Walter, Baylor, forward.

Big 12 preseason all-conference team

  • L.J. Cryer, Houston, guard.
  • Hunter Dickinson, Kansas, center.
  • Dejuan Harris Jr., Kansas, guard.
  • Emanuel Miller, TCU, forward.
  • Max Abmams, Texas, guard.

Honorable mention (listed alphabetically by school): Jalen Bridges (Baylor), RayJ Dennis (Baylor), Ja’Kobe Walter (Baylor), Jamal Shead (Houston), Kevin McCullar Jr. (Kansas), Arthur Kaluma (Kansas State), Tylor Perry (Kansas State), Dylan Disu (Texas), Tyrese Hunter (Texas), Dillon Mitchell (Texas), Jesse Edwards (West Virginia).