The Big 12 and the SEC will take a break from league play with the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Jan. 30. Here, we rank the 10 matchups, in order of best to worst matchup (with game time and television information):
1. Auburn at Baylor, 3 p.m., ESPN
The Tigers barred themselves from the NCAA Tournament this year. Yet, the Tigers are still a talented team and would enter this game playing what will probably be an undefeated Baylor team. You’ve seen it the past two weeks in Big 12 action — the Bears are going to get everyone’s best shot. And you can bet Auburn is going to bring it. This one will get interesting really fast.
2. Texas Tech at LSU, 1 p.m. central, TV TBD
The Red Raiders have a limited record on the road, and it was spotless before losing to West Virginia on Monday. LSU is nearly unbeatable at home. Four of Tech’s losses are to ranked teams. Two of LSU’s losses are to ranked teams. LSU freshman Cameron Thomas and Texas Tech guard Mac McClung are fun to watch. This is a game with a great individual matchup and surrounding casts that could take it right down to the end.
3. Alabama at Oklahoma, 11 a.m. central, ESPN2
The Sooners are on a nice roll right now, especially with the emergence of sophomore De’Vion Harmon the past two weeks. The Crimson Tide is rolling, too, as they hung 105 points on LSU at one point in SEC play. The Sooners will be coming off a game against Texas and will be out to test themselves yet again against an Alabama team that would look right at home in the Big 12.
4. Texas at Kentucky, 7 p.m., ESPN
Yes, Kentucky ISN’T Kentucky this year. And Texas is a different club altogether too. Plus, Texas head coach Shaka Smart is out due to COVID-19. But something tells me the Wildcats will play up to a highly-ranked Longhorns team in a game that could well come down to the final minutes. It’s at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. I don’t care if there isn’t a crowd, or if there is a small crowd. There’s something about that place.
READ MORE: Big 12 Teams in CBSSports.com Bracketology
READ MORE: Big 12 Teams in ESPN.com Bracketology
5. Arkansas at Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. central, TV TBD
Feels like another evenly-matched game. Both have quality overall records. Both have talented freshmen (Cade Cunningham for Oklahoma State and Moses Moody for Arkansas, and let’s hope Cunningham plays in this one). It has the makings of a game where Cunningham and Moody could go mano-a-mano and the rest of the respective teams would decide who wins the game. That has the potential for fun basketball.
6. Florida at West Virginia, 1 p.m., TV TBD
It’s a pair of teams that look evenly matched on paper, and I think this one shapes up to be a good game. But it might not be a great game. The Gators come into the contest with — gulp — six players in double figures. The Mountaineers have the firepower to compete, but they will have to expend plenty of defensive energy to keep up. Maybe the fans in WVU Coliseum will help. The Mountaineers will have fans about 1,000 fans on hand.
7. Kansas at Tennessee, 5 p.m. central, ESPN
I was REALLY looking forward to this game at the start of the season. And it might end up being a good game. But the Jayhawks are in a slide the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time, and they’ll be less than 48 hours off of playing TCU. Tennessee will have four days off before the game and the Vols are the most balanced team the Jayhawks will have faced since Baylor. I don’t have high hopes for this being a great game.
8. Texas A&M at Kansas State, 11 a.m. central, ESPNU
Kansas State enters the game with a losing record overall and in conference, along with an under-.500 record at home. Texas A&M is at the bottom of the SEC conference standings, but can at least count a record slightly above .500. This feels like a game you put on for background noise while you’re doing household chores.
9. TCU at Missouri, 1 p.m. central, ESPNU
Don’t let the pair of winning records overall fool you — these are two different teams right now. The Tigers are fighting for a Top 4 spot in the SEC standings. The Horned Frogs are coming off a COVID pause and are in a significant slump. The Tigers are good at home. This one could get away from TCU quickly.
10. Iowa State at Mississippi State, 5 p.m. central, ESPN2
The Cyclones are coming off more than a week of COVID-19 pauses are one of two Big 12 teams with an under-.500 record. The Bulldogs are at least better than .500, but they’re a middling team in the SEC fighting for bubble status in the NCAA Tournament. There is far more motivation for the Bulldogs in a game that could well be a blowout for MSU.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard. Send him a tweet with your question to be included in this week’s Big 12 Basketball Mailbag, which appears each Friday during the conference season.
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