#20 Iowa State @ Baylor
Tuesday, January 8th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNN
Baylor (8-5, 0-1) hosts #20 Iowa State (12-2, 2-0) in a game that has major implications for both teams. Baylor started conference play with a close road loss to TCU. The Bears had a chance down the stretch to tie the game, but couldn’t quite pull it off. The upside is they never stopped fighting. The offense actually looked good in the second half. Sadly, once the offense started flowing, the defense couldn’t buy a stop. Iowa State is off to an electric start to conference play, beating Oklahoma State in Stillwater before handing Kansas a 17 point loss in Ames. The Cyclones have incredibly talented guard play and a reinvigorated interior with the return of Cameron Lard. The Bears will have their hands full this Tuesday. The way I see it, Baylor’s best shot at beating Iowa State will be strong interior play from Tristan Clark. Clark will be the best big man on the court. If the Bears can keep feeding the paint and do enough to slow Iowa State’s guard play, they have a shot. A strong home-crowd showing would also be a significant benefit. So do everything you can to show up, the Bears desperately need to string some quality wins together and this would certainly be one of them. That being said, I think Iowa State wins by a few. The Bears need to prove me wrong.
68-61 Iowa State
Texas @ Oklahoma State
Tuesday, January 8th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU
Oklahoma State (6-8, 0-2) looks to get a footing in Big 12 play when they take on Texas (10-4, 2-0). Oklahoma State has opened conference play with a pair of losses to Iowa State and Oklahoma. Texas has had the opposite start, getting two wins over Kansas State and West Virginia. Texas is favored in this game, but not by nearly as much as the record differential would make you think (ESPN gives them a 62.1% chance of winning). I think Oklahoma State is good enough to pick up a win or two in conference play and Texas is inconsistent enough that they could have a sluggish night in Stillwater. Close, upset win for the Cowboys.
65-64 Oklahoma State
#23 Oklahoma @ #8 Texas Tech
Tuesday, January 8th 8:00 PM CT, ESPNN
#8 Texas Tech (13-1, 2-0) is going to be in a legitimate fight for the top spot in the league, which means they have to take care of business at home against #23 Oklahoma (12-2, 1-1). Texas Tech has opened league play with a couple single-digit wins over West Virginia and Kansas State. Oklahoma dropped a game to Kansas before beating instate rival Oklahoma State. This will be a battle of talented guards, with Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver going head-to-head with Oklahoma’s Christian James. Both lead their teams in scoring and rebounding. Expect a gritty, defensive game as Texas Tech has one of the strongest defenses in the country. Homecourt advantage gives the edge to Tech.
62-57 Texas Tech
West Virginia @ Kansas State
Wednesday, January 9th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU
A battle of winless teams in conference play goes down on Wednesday between West Virginia (8-6, 0-2) and Kansas State (10-4, 0-2). One of these teams will secure a footing to move forward in the Big 12 while the other will be off to a miserable 0-3 start. Kansas State is favored by a decent margin and I buy into that. This year’s West Virginia team just isn’t the same as those in the recent past. Look for Kansas State’s senior guard Barry Brown Jr. to have a strong game.
64-56 Kansas State
#25 TCU @ #7 Kansas
Wednesday, January 9th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN2
A top 25 battle with major conference race implications, #25 TCU (12-1, 1-0) travels to Phog Allen to battle #7 Kansas (12-2, 1-1). TCU secured a win at home over Baylor in their only conference game so far. While their offense was effective, the Horned Frogs could barely stop Baylor from scoring in the second half. And Baylor is NOT a good offensive team. Meanwhile, Kansas opened league play with a win against Oklahoma before getting dominated by Iowa State. Pair that loss with the terrible news for Kansas that Udoka Azubuike is out for the season, and there is suddenly a lot of pressure on the Jayhawks in the early stages of conference play. I still think they have enough talent to beat TCU at home, but if they lose this game things could get ugly for Kansas in a hurry.