For Part 1 of the Big 12/SEC Challenge preview, go here.
Iowa State vs. #22 Tennessee
Saturday, January 27th 3:00 PM CT, ESPNU
Iowa State (11-8) is half a great team and half an awful team. Their greatness lies in their offense, with four players averaging over 12 points per game. Lindell Wigginton leads the pack with 16.2 points per game. Two of their starters also average better than 42% from 3, Wigginton and Donovan Jackson. The awful half of the team is their defense. They rank 177th in the nation in defensive efficiency. Meanwhile, #22 Tennessee (14-5) also has good offense with three players averaging double digits and Jordan Bowden averaging 53.8% from 3. Their defense is also over 100 spots better than Iowa State’s at 70th. While I think the Cyclones have the offensive edge, I don’t think their defense will be able to do enough to get the win. But its at Hilton so you never know, I guess.
TCU @ Vanderbilt
Saturday, January 27th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN2
TCU (15-5) has been disappointing since entering conference play. They are tied for bottom in the league after an undefeated non-conference. They take on an even more disappointing team in Bryce Drew’s Vanderbilt (7-13). While Vanderbilt has four players averaging double digits, their defense is even worse than Iowa State’s, at #231. TCU, even without Jaylen Fisher, has enough to get the job done as they proved in their much needed win over West Virginia during the week. Frogs win this one.
#5 Kansas vs. Texas A&M
Saturday, January 27th 3:30 PM CT, ESPN
#5 Kansas (16-4) is looking to rebound after a disappointing loss to Oklahoma during the week. Much of that loss has been blamed on Udoka Azubuike and his free throw shooting woes, shooting only 37.5% on the season. This caused a fan to go to the KU basketball dorms offering free throw shooting advice this week. While “Poke-A-Doke” was a successful strategy for OU, you’ve got to believe a HOF coach like Bill Self learned his lesson. The Jayhawks have five players averaging double digits, with Devonte’ Graham leading the pack at 17.8 a game. Meanwhile, Texas A&M (13-7) has fallen on tough times in conference play, coming in at 13th in the conference. They have four players averaging double digits, led by Tyler Davis. I think Kansas, who is likely to be mad after their loss to Oklahoma, will be too much for A&M to handle, especially in Phog Allen.
Oklahoma State @ Arkansas
Saturday, January 27th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN2
Here is yet another Big 12 team that is winless on the road, traveling for the Big 12/SEC challenge. Oklahoma State (13-7) has shown sparks of being great and sparks of being not so great. They were great in their OT win over Oklahoma. They were not so great in their recent losses to Baylor and Texas Tech. Which Oklahoma State team will show up at Arkansas (14-6)? Oklahoma State is led by Jeffrey Carroll who averages 16.2 points per game. Arkansas has two players that average more than Carroll in Jaylen Barford (19.4 PPG) and Daryl Macon (16.3 PPG). I think Arkansas gets this win behind their offense, primarily since Oklahoma State has to go on the road.
#7 West Virginia vs. Kentucky
Saturday, January 27th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN
No, that isn’t a typo. Kentucky (15-5) is unranked, a rarity in recent years for sure. They travel to Morgantown to face #7 West Virginia (16-4). The Mountaineers have been in a losing funk, dropping 3 of their last 4 games. Kentucky is only slightly better, going 2-2 in their last 4 games. The Wildcats have four players averaging over double digit scoring, led by Kevin Knox at 14.6 points per game. West Virginia is led by its senior point guard, Jevon Carter, who is averaging 16.9 points per game. The Mountaineers also have three other players averaging double digits. The difference in this game should be defense. The Mountaineers rank 7th in the country in defensive efficiency, while the Wildcats rank at 52nd. Combine that with what’s sure to be a raucous West Virginia home crowd and I think WVU comes away with a needed win.
71-60 West Virginia.
And with that, the Big 12 is predicted to win the Big 12/SEC challenge with a record of 7-3. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!