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Big 12-SEC Challenge: Ranking the Games and Predictions

It’s that time of year again, as probably the two best conferences in the country go head to head!

Mississippi v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Below, I have ranked all of the Big 12-SEC Challenge games according to how interesting and exciting I think each are in terms of matchups, potential on-the-court action, and other extraneous factors!

10. Kansas State @ Ole Miss

Saturday, January 29th 3:00 PM CT, ESPNU

This is just an all around pretty boring matchup between Kansas State (10-9) and Ole Miss (10-10). Ole Miss has lost seven of its last nine games. Kansas State has lost six of their last nine games. Really just an average game between teams near the bottom of their respective conferences. I’ve got Kansas State in this one.

Prediction: Kansas State

9. Oklahoma State @ Florida

Saturday, January 29th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN2

A lot of people thought Florida (12-8) was supposed to be good this year, but they haven’t really lived up to that, losing five of their last eight. Oklahoma State (10-9) has been sneaky good at times this year, but they are ultimately still near the bottom of the Big 12 and serving a post season ban. I’ve got Florida covering their home court in this one.

Prediction: Florida

8. Missouri @ #23 Iowa State

Saturday, January 29th 1:00 PM CT, ESPNU

While this game should be interesting based on old conference rivals that are geographically close, Missouri (8-11) is not bringing the same level of competition as #23 Iowa State (15-5). The Cyclones have had some stumbles in conference play but are still leaps and bounds better than this Missouri team whose most notable games were either keeping it close with Auburn or beating a now unranked Alabama.

Prediction: Iowa State

7. West Virginia @ Arkansas

Saturday, January 29th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN2

West Virginia (13-6) has had an abysmal stretch in conference play, where they have lost their last four in a row. Maybe a nonconference game is just what they need. Arkansas (15-5) has been somewhat disappointing on the season, but they have won their last five games. This will be an interesting game in that West Virginia needs to prove they aren’t going to get washed out this season and Arkansas needs to prove that they are “back” to preseason expectations. Again, I like the homecourt advantage here.

Prediction: Arkansas

6. Mississippi State @ #13 Texas Tech

Saturday, January 29th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN2

#13 Texas Tech (15-5) has been a monster in many of its games this season. The biggest issue they have been struggling with as of late is seamlessly reincorporating some of their best players, such as Terrence Shannon Jr., who are coming back off of injuries. A game like this might be a good one to test different lineups and rotations. Mississippi State (13-6) has won three of their last five games, so they certainly are no slouch but are a tier below the SEC’s top teams. This ought to be an interesting matchup that Tech should ultimately prevail in.

Prediction: Texas Tech

5. #19 LSU @ TCU

Saturday, January 29th 11:00 AM CT, ESPN2

TCU (13-4) is coming off of a lopsided loss to Texas, but they have otherwise been a surprisingly strong Big 12 contender, winning three of their last five games. #19 LSU (16-4) will provide a strong test for the Horned Frogs. The Tigers cleared a flawless nonconference schedule before hitting some snags in SEC play, losing three of their last four games. They did get themselves back in the winning column in their last game against Texas A&M. I actually think TCU is going to surprise some people here and steal an upset.

Prediction: TCU

3. #4 Baylor @ Alabama

Saturday, January 29th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN

#4 Baylor (18-2) is fresh off a beat down of Kansas State, something we haven’t seen for a while. They follow that game up with a trip to Alabama (13-7). The Crimson Tide had high expectations coming into this season but have been fairly disappointing in conference play. They have lost four of their last six, including an atrocious loss to Georgia in their most recent game. The return of Jeremy Sochan has been really good for Baylor and I think they keep it rolling.

Prediction: Baylor

3. #18 Tennessee @ Texas

Saturday, January 29th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN

This game is interesting not only because it features a ranked, #18 Tennessee (14-5) and an underperforming but still decent Texas (15-5), but also because it features the return of longtime Longhorn head coach Rick Barnes to Austin as he coaches Tennessee. The problem I see for Texas is that even though they just annihilated TCU, they have been unable to find a ranked win this season. In fact, they are the only team in the Big 12 that has yet to do so. Tennessee has won four of their last five, with their only loss coming to a really good Kentucky squad. I think Rick Barnes sees another win in Austin.

Prediction: Tennessee

2. Oklahoma @ #1 Auburn

Saturday, January 29th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN

A lot of eyes will be on this game as newly christened #1 Auburn (19-1) looks to prove they deserve that #1 ranking. They certainly didn’t look like they did during the week when they narrowly escaped a bad Missouri team. Oklahoma (13-7) had a rough streak in conference play, losing four straight games before winning their last game at West Virginia. I think that win gives them confidence going into this game. And while I do think Auburn is good, this is the first time Auburn has ever been ranked #1. That is a tough burden, something Baylor experienced a few seasons back with a bad loss. Oklahoma is certainly not a bad loss, and I think they’re good enough to push Auburn in this game.

Prediction: Oklahoma

1. #12 Kentucky @ #5 Kansas

Saturday, January 29th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN

Somewhat surprisingly, the only ranked vs. ranked game of the Big 12-SEC Challenge features the two blue-bloods of each conference: #12 Kentucky (16-4) and #5 Kansas (17-2). The Jayhawks have won five straight and are undefeated on the season in Phog Allen. Kentucky has won five of their last six, with their only loss in that stretch coming to now #1 Auburn. This ought to be a great game that I ultimately think Kansas pulls out given their potential player of the year candidate, Ochai Agbaji, and their notorious homecourt advantage.

Prediction: Kansas

Overall Prediction: 7-3 in favor of the Big 12