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Big 12 MBB Preview 1/20-1/21

The newly crowned #1 Baylor Bears are in action with a host of other conference showdowns!

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas @ #14 West Virginia

Monday, January 20th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU

#14 West Virginia (14-3, 3-2) is in need of a big rebound win after getting blown out by Kansas State, who only has one win in conference play. They have an opportunity to get back on track with Texas (12-5, 2-3) coming to Morgantown. While Texas only has two wins in conference play, they have fought hard their last three games, which have included wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State and a close loss to Kansas, a game in which they led for large portions of it. The Mountaineers hit a wall against Kansas State and I think Texas has gathered a spark of motivation, so I’m throwing WVU on upset alert.

65-61 Texas

Oklahoma @ #1 Baylor

Monday, January 20th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

#1 Baylor (15-1, 5-0). Let’s just soak that in for a moment.

The Bears have only been ranked number one once before in program history. The last time they were top dog—only a few years ago—the Bears immediately lost their next game in Morgantown. Now in their second reign on top, Baylor is looking to make it last. Oklahoma (12-5, 3-2) should prove to be a decent Big Monday test, as they will likely end up a tournament team. The Sooners recovered from back-to-back losses to Iowa State and Kansas with a massive, blowout win over TCU. If Baylor plays up to its ability both offensively and defensively, they should be able to handle Oklahoma just fine. If only the defense shows up, they’ll have a chance. That’s what makes this Baylor team so good: they have legitimate offensive firepower but their defense is good enough to potentially cover any bad shooting halves. One player to watch in this game is Tristan Clark. Clark had his best conference game of the season in Stillwater this weekend, scoring 8 points on 4 of 4 shooting in only 12 minutes of playing time. If he can start consistently providing quality offense off the bench the #1 Bears will become an even more dangerous team. Mark Vital and the Baylor defense do enough in this game to shut down Kristian Doolittle and the Sooners offense to get another conference win. Whether or not they cover the 10 point spread is another question.

67-60 Baylor

Kansas State @ #3 Kansas

Tuesday, January 21st 6:00 PM CT, ESPN2

The first iteration of the Sunflower Showdown this season happens Tuesday as Kansas State (8-9, 1-4) travels to Lawrence to battle #3 Kansas (14-3, 4-1). From a Baylor fan perspective, we really want Kansas State to win here so that the Bears have at least a two game separation on everyone in the conference (with a Baylor win over Oklahoma). However, even with the Wildcats’ huge win over West Virginia, I’m simply unconvinced they have enough firepower to beat Kansas in Phog Allen. Kansas’s Devon Dotson returned to KU’s lineup and helped lead the Jayhawks to a win over Texas. His presence should help KU secure a win against their rival.

78-65 Kansas

#18 Texas Tech @ TCU

Tuesday, January 21st 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+

#18 Texas Tech (12-5, 3-2) overcame a slow first half to ultimately blowout Iowa State in their last game. They now travel to Fort Worth to take on TCU (12-5, 3-2) who desperately needs a win to stop a harsh, two game slide. The Horned Frogs lost to West Virginia by 32 and then lost to Oklahoma by 20. Even if the Horned Frogs don’t win this game, putting up a fight is crucial to gather some momentum moving forward. Otherwise they could quickly start dropping into the bottom third of the conference. While home-court advantage might help, I like the Red Raiders to pick up a much needed road win here.

64-57 Texas Tech

Oklahoma State @ Iowa State

Tuesday, January 21st 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+

Oklahoma State (9-8, 0-5) and Iowa State (8-9, 1-4) are in a fight to avoid the bottom of the Big 12 (Kansas State might be vying for that uncoveted spot too). Iowa State has strung together two consecutive, decent first halves before getting blown out in the second half by Baylor and Texas Tech, respectively. Oklahoma State accomplished a similar feat against Baylor, even leading by double digits well into the second half before collapsing. The problem for the Cowboys is they had, by far, their best shooting performance of conference play against Baylor and still came up short. I highly doubt the Cowboys can replicate that, especially in Ames. Tyrese Haliburton and company do enough to pick up a second Big 12 win, and Oklahoma State drops to an abysmal 0-6 start to conference play.

78-73 Iowa State