Baylor @ #6 West Virginia
Tuesday, January 9th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN2
Baylor (11-4, 1-2) finally picked up its first conference win in a much needed victory over Texas at home Saturday. While Baylor’s 3 point shooting was still a major issue (Texas, the statistically worst 3 point shooting team in the Big 12, outshot Baylor 8-3 from beyond the arc), Manu Lecomte looked a little more comfortable making some nice drives in the lane. Both Manu and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. put up a solid 17 points a piece. But the Bears will be facing a much stiffer defense when they travel to #6 West Virginia (14-1, 3-0). The Mountaineers are coming off of a massive win over #7 Oklahoma on Saturday. While the Sooners’ Trae Young got another 29 points in that game, the Mountaineers held him to only 5 assists and forced 8 turnovers from him. That’s where I think the problem lies for the Bears. I like Manu a lot, and once he gets his 3 point game back on track he’ll be among the elite in the Big 12. But Manu does not handle in your face defenses that very well. “Press Virginia” is definitively the toughest defense to play against in the Big 12. This will be an ugly game and I don’t see the Bears winning it unless Manu and Jake Lindsey have career nights in terms of ball handling.
82-70 West Virginia.
#18 Texas Tech @ #7 Oklahoma
Tuesday, January 9th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU
Talk about tough back to back games for #7 Oklahoma (12-2, 2-1). After a difficult loss on the road to West Virginia, the Sooners now have to face off against #18 Texas Tech (14-1, 3-0). While the Mountaineers hold the best defense in the conference, the Red Raiders might very well have the second best. The question then for this game is: Will Trae Young, almost certainly the best college basketball player in the nation, be able to fix his turnover problems and get his team back on track to a win? I think so (I still like Oklahoma to win the conference this year... It always seems like West Virginia’s press gets weaker later in the year).
89-80 Oklahoma (with Trae Young scoring 30+ points).
Iowa State @ #10 Kansas
Tuesday, January 9th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN2
What a weird year where Iowa State (9-5, 0-3) is the apparent bottom of the Big 12 and #10 Kansas (12-3, 2-1), by my estimation, isn’t the favorite to win the conference. The Cyclones just haven’t been able to get over the hump, losing their last two games in OT. Kansas took a rare home loss to Texas Tech before bouncing back with a road win at TCU. While I would like the Cyclones to win this one (really, I’ll be rooting against the Jayhawks throughout conference just because SOMEONE else needs to win the title), Kansas has a lot more talent this year.
Oklahoma State @ Kansas State
Wednesday, January 10th 7:00 PM CT, ESPNN
Oklahoma State (11-4, 1-2) and Kansas State (11-4, 1-2) are both hovering around the 8 and 9 spots in the Big 12. In a year where the Big 12 could very likely get 8 teams into the tournament, the difference between 8 and 9 could be massive. That makes this a critical game for both teams. Oklahoma State is coming off of a clutch OT win against Iowa State. Kansas State is coming off of back to back losses to West Virginia and Texas Tech. Nevertheless, I like the Wildcats to win this one at home behind a strong performance by Dean Wade.
74-70 Kansas State.
#16 TCU @ Texas
Wednesday, January 10th 8:00 PM CT, ESPNU
After a disappointing home loss to Kansas, #16 TCU (13-2, 1-2) looks to get things back on track against instate rival Texas (10-5, 1-2). The bad news for Texas is they just lost to Baylor and could still be missing star Andrew Jones. The good news is that Jase Febres came out of nowhere in the first half against Baylor, lighting up the scoreboard. If that type of production continues consistently, he will be a really good player for the Longhorns. TCU just couldn’t seem to ever get over the hump in their last game against Kansas. While Texas showed some interesting strength from 3 point land against Baylor, I don’t think that’s sustainable and I think the Horned Frogs will have less trouble getting over the hump against Texas.