Note: an earlier version of this article was published when the Baylor game was listed for ESPN3, one of ESPN’s online streaming platforms. However, it seems the game has thankfully been bumped up to ESPN2. I’ll leave the rant below for posterity.
Before I even get into the previews, let me just say this is the worst week of TV scheduling I think I’ve ever seen out of ESPN for the Big 12. There are two top 25 matchups and 6 ranked teams in action, and not a single one of those games involving a ranked team is on normal, nationally accessible, broadcast television. And the two games that are on standard television are relegated to ESPNU and are the two worst games of the week. Absolutely horrendous.
#19 Texas Tech @ #1 Baylor
Tuesday, January 11th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN2
#1 Baylor (15-0, 3-0) has been following a pattern in its first three Big 12 games: They get somewhat tested early before ultimately pulling away for a win. TCU might have given Baylor their biggest test yet, taking a lead into halftime. But Baylor snapped into gear in the second half and ended up winning comfortably. They now host #19 Texas Tech (11-3, 1-1) who is an extremely dangerous team. They just beat Kansas without their top two scorers, Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kevin McCullar, and they put Iowa State on the ropes in Ames with a similarly depleted roster. This ought to be a defensive slugfest of a game, with or without Tech’s roster at full strength (at last check there is no word on Tech’s top two players, both are recovering from injuries). Baylor is dealing with its own injury issue, as Jeremy Sochan went down with an ankle injury in the TCU game and is day-to-day. I would guess he’ll be out in this game. Still, I expect Baylor to have the advantage in terms of available players. Baylor stays undefeated with a top 25, home win.
#15 Iowa State @ #9 Kansas
Tuesday, January 11th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+
#9 Kansas (12-2, 1-1) suffered a tough road loss over the weekend to a depleted Texas Tech. They now head back home to host #15 Iowa State (13-2, 1-2) who is also coming off a tough road loss to Oklahoma. The Cyclones battled with the Sooners for much of the game before letting up a late game run that proved insurmountable. Kansas trailed Tech for the entire second half in their game. This should be an interesting matchup, as the Cyclones and Jayhawks tend to play each other hard. Iowa State is still having some troubles finding an offensive identity while their defense has remained great. Kansas is having major issues getting post production, as David McCormack has been quite underwhelming. Nevertheless, it would seem foolish to pick against Kansas at home, as I somewhat expect the Jayhawks and Cyclones to split their two games on the year. So I have Kansas winning this one.
Oklahoma @ #21 Texas
Tuesday, January 11th 7:30 PM CT, LHN
The battle of future SEC teams features #21 Texas (12-3, 2-1) and Oklahoma (12-3, 2-1). Honestly, I have been more impressed with Oklahoma so far this year. Texas beat two highly depleted teams (West Virginia and Kansas State) before losing to Oklahoma State, likely the worst or second worst team in the conference. Meanwhile, Oklahoma also beat Kansas State, took down top 25 Iowa State, and lost to #1 Baylor. Oklahoma has really been clicking on offense lately, something that even Baylor’s defense had some issues with. Texas, on the other hand, could only score 51 points on Oklahoma State. Brutal. I like the Sooners in this rivalry matchup.
Oklahoma State @ West Virginia
Tuesday, January 11th 8:00 PM CT, ESPNU
Oklahoma State (8-5, 1-1) is fresh off a huge win against top 25 Texas. The Cowboys really needed a win like that to boost morale and confidence after their gritty conference-opening loss to Kansas. West Virginia (12-2, 1-1) has struggled some with a short roster and barely beat Kansas State at home. On the whole, West Virginia is the better team but Oklahoma State is trending stronger right now. Still, I’ll take Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers at home over the Cowboys, who I imagine will be very sporadic in conference play this season given roster issues and potential post-season motivation issues.
73-68 West Virginia
TCU @ Kansas State
Wednesday, January 12th 8:00 PM CT, ESPNU
TCU (10-2, 0-1) put up an impressive fight against Baylor in their conference opener over the weekend. They’ll now need to ready themselves for a road bout with Kansas State (8-6, 0-3). The Wildcats have had a terrible start to conference play, losing their first three to Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia. The tough part is that two of those losses were by one score. So the Wildcats have some potential, but they have yet to put it into play yet. TCU is a team the Wildcats could beat, especially if Mike Miles has lingering wrist issues after his apparent injury in the Baylor game. Still, I like the Horned Frogs here who have been more impressive on the season as a whole.
Oklahoma State @ #19 Texas Tech
Thursday, January 13th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN+
This game is a rescheduled matchup that was postponed because of COVID issues earlier in conference play. That being said, this is a difficult game to predict since both of these teams play earlier in the week. So while this preview will be short, I do think regardless of outcomes, #19 Texas Tech is my clear favorite to win here over Oklahoma State given its a home game and Tech has looked much more impressive. Even if Oklahoma State wins and Tech loses their games earlier this week (potentially very likely outcomes for both), I still like the Red Raiders.
74-63 Texas Tech