#19 Texas Tech @ Kansas State
Saturday, January 15th 11:00 AM CT, ESPN2
#19 Texas Tech (13-3, 3-1) should see a pretty huge jump up in the rankings come next week, assuming they beat Kansas State (8-7, 0-4) on Saturday. The Red Raiders have already notched two wins on the week, including one over the #1 team in the nation on the road. Their other was against a pretty mediocre Oklahoma State. They can round out the week here with a victory over Kansas State who is winless in conference play. I think Texas Tech was vastly underrated coming into conference play and it might be the Red Raiders that are going to give the Bears the biggest challenge for the Big 12 title. The scariest part is they beat Kansas and Baylor without their top scorer, Terrence Shannon Jr., who is apparently back for this game against Kansas State. While Kansas State has had some bad luck in their conference games, losing three of four by a single score, I doubt Tech has much issue with them unless they’re caught sleeping at the wheel.
78-61 Texas Tech
West Virginia @ #9 Kansas
Saturday, January 15th 1:00 PM CT, CBS
After starting off conference play with a blowout loss, West Virginia (13-2, 2-1) got back on track with back-to-back wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The problem is that those are the two bottom teams in the league, and the competition ratchets back up immediately with a trip to Lawrence to take on #9 Kansas (13-2, 2-1). The Jayhawks needed a near buzzer-beater bucket to lift themselves over Iowa State during the week. While there are still plenty of flaws with the Jayhawks—namely inconsistent post play—their guard play should be enough to get them the victory over the Mountaineers in Phog Allen. Regardless, this is a key game for both teams in what could be a very tight race for the regular season title.
#21 Texas @ #15 Iowa State
Saturday, January 15th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN+
For how great of a nonconference run #15 Iowa State (13-3, 1-3) had, their start to conference play has been much less ideal. Other than a very close win against a shorthanded Texas Tech, the Cyclones have lost to Baylor, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Granted, that is a tough stretch and it doesn’t help that they now take on #21 Texas (13-3, 3-1) before quickly playing Texas Tech again. Still, the Cyclones need to win some of these games against good competition since nearly everyone in the Big 12 is good competition. For Texas, they have had a much easier opening of conference play, beating shorthanded West Virginia and Kansas State, along with a nice win over Oklahoma. Their one loss, however, was a relatively bad one against Oklahoma State. This game will be an opportunity for them to notch their first top 25 win of the season. However, I see these teams splitting their two games on the season and given this one is in Ames, I’ve got the Cyclones picking up a much needed win after their heartbreaking loss to Kansas.
73-69 Iowa State
Oklahoma @ TCU
Saturday, January 15th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN2
Oklahoma (12-4, 2-2) has shown so far this season that they have the potential for an extremely explosive offense. The key word is potential. While their offense was humming against Iowa State (and against Baylor in a losing effort), they couldn’t get much of anything going in their last game against Texas where they only scored 52 points. They now need to bounce back as they travel to Fort Worth to take on TCU (11-2, 1-1). The Horned Frogs look like they could be a landmine in Big 12 play. While they’re still probably one of the bottom half teams in the conference, I expect them to spring a few upsets as they came close to doing against Baylor. Given Oklahoma’s awful offensive showing against Texas, it’s hard to say if that was one off night or if it will take a few games to get out of that funk. We saw how hard TCU played against Baylor defensively, so if they bring that same effort I think TCU scores a minor upset here.
Oklahoma State @ #1 Baylor
Saturday, January 15th 4:00 PM CT, ESPN
#1 Baylor (15-1, 3-1) suffered its first loss of the season to Texas Tech during the week. That loss was disappointing thanks to the large lead the Bears built and subsequently squandered. Still, sometimes a loss isn’t the worst thing in the world and I think that game has the potential to rally the team (and showcased some things that need fixed, particularly the mentality to put teams away and late game possession strategies). Luckily, Baylor should have a relatively easy home game to get things back in order as they host Oklahoma State (8-7, 1-3). The Cowboys do have the potential to spring upsets, something we saw Texas succumb to. Still, there isn’t really an aspect of this Cowboys team that scares me. Their leading scorer only averages 11.1 ppg and they only have one other player averaging double digits. Mediocre offense against Baylor’s defense is not an ideal matchup. I suspect Baylor will come out pissed off and get right back on track.