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Big 12 MBB Preview: Big 12/SEC Challenge

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

#15 Auburn @ West Virginia

Saturday, January 28th 11:00 AM CT, ESPN

West Virginia (12-8) picked up a very important win during the week when they took down Texas Tech. That victory gave the Mountaineers their second conference win and clearly separated themselves from Tech, who is firmly at the bottom of the conference. Now the Mountaineers really need to build some momentum to improve their tournament resume. This is a game that could certainly help them on that front as they host #15 Auburn (16-3). Auburn had been on a five game winning streak before losing their most recent game against Texas A&M. It’s hard to tell if that loss was an aberration or a sign of potentially more problems moving forward, but there’s certainly an opportunity here for WVU. I like Auburn, but a Mountaineers win wouldn’t shock me.

74-71 Auburn

#2 Alabama @ Oklahoma

Saturday, January 28th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN

Oklahoma (11-9) got dealt a very tough hand in this year’s Big 12/SEC Challenge, as they host #2 Alabama (17-2). The Crimson Tide have not lost a game since mid-December when they were defeated by Gonzaga. Since then, Alabama has pulverized their competition, not winning by any less than 11 and beating their most recent opponent, Missouri, by 21. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is on a three game losing streak with losses to Oklahoma State, Baylor, and TCU. I don’t see this being a game the Sooners can get things turned around in.

88-72 Alabama

#12 Iowa State @ Missouri

Saturday, January 28th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN2

#12 Iowa State (15-4) travels to one of their oldest rivals Missouri (15-5) in a game that could actually be pretty interesting. The Cyclones have proven themselves to be one of the best teams in the Big 12 after notching a huge win over Kansas State earlier in the week. And while Missouri has had some troubles in conference play, they’re no slouch either as they secured a road win over Ole Miss in their most recent outing. Missouri has only dropped home games to top 10 teams (Kansas and Alabama), so they know how to defend their homecourt well. However, Iowa State is basically a top 10 caliber team as things currently stand so I like the Cyclones in this one.

78-72 Iowa State

Texas Tech @ LSU

Saturday, January 28th 1:00 PM CT, ESPNU

Texas Tech (10-10) is in dire need of any kind of win they can get. The Red Raiders are 0-8 in conference play and haven’t won a game since December. While a win here wouldn’t do anything to help Tech’s Big 12 woes, it would do marvels for boosting the confidence of a team that sorely needs it. LSU (12-8) is certainly a winnable matchup, as the Tigers have only managed one conference win and are currently on a seven game losing streak. While Tech could certainly pick up this W, I’ve got a slight edge going to LSU, especially with their homecourt advantage.

68-65 LSU

Arkansas @ #17 Baylor

Saturday, January 28th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN

#17 Baylor (15-5) is one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 and nation right now, as they enter this game on a five game winning streak that includes their most recent win over Kansas. Arkansas (14-6) has started to rebound from a really nasty stretch that saw them going 1-5 to open SEC play. Since that stretch they have won their last two games against Ole Miss and LSU. However, their scoring has been mediocre as of late as they only amassed 60 points against LSU and 69 against Ole Miss. Baylor features one of the best offenses in the country, so the Razorbacks would have to do a lot better in the scoring column to have a chance in this one. Oh, and the Razorbacks also haven’t won a true road game yet this year. Give me the Bears.

82-69 Baylor

#11 TCU @ Mississippi State

Saturday, January 28th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN2

Speaking of hot teams, #11 TCU (16-4) had one of the best two game stretches of the season of any team out there, demolishing Kansas in Lawrence and then following that up with a 27 point win over Oklahoma. On the other side of the court, Mississippi State (12-7) is one of the worst teams in the SEC, having gone 1-6 in conference play so far. Their only win came against Ole Miss, who is one of the only teams that is worse right now. So barring something completely unexpected, TCU should win this one with relative ease.

88-65 TCU

#10 Texas @ #4 Tennessee

Saturday, January 28th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN

Here’s another really interesting top 10 showdown between orange UTs. #10 Texas (17-3) recovered from their most recent loss to Iowa State with back-to-back wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma State, positioning them in a tie for first in the Big 12 standings. #4 Tennessee (16-3) only has one loss in conference play so far, which came at the hands of Kentucky. Other than that, the Volunteers have been crushing most of their opponents. This ought to be a good battle of future conference rivals, but I think the homecourt advantage swings this in favor of Tennessee.

77-74 Tennessee

Florida @ #5 Kansas State

Saturday, January 28th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN2

#5 Kansas State (17-3) is trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Iowa State during the week that knocked them down from sole possession of first place in the Big 12, to tied for first place in the conference. Hosting a fairly average Florida (11-8) might just do the trick. However, the Wildcats can’t sleep on Florida because while their overall resume is not great, they have won four of their last five games. The problem is most of those games in that five game stretch have been low-scoring affairs. Kansas State is a team that can pounce on a team offensively, especially when the threes are falling. I like KState to win at home.

74-62 Kansas State

#9 Kansas @ Kentucky

Saturday, January 28th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN

#9 Kansas (16-4) has very quickly fallen into desperate for a win territory as they look to snap a three game losing streak. And even though this year’s Kentucky squad has had its share of difficulties, this is an incredibly tricky matchup for Kansas especially given where they’re likely at mentally. After switching their lineup around some, the Wildcats have been able to build some momentum in the form of a four game winning streak that includes a win on the road over top 5 Tennessee. I imagine Kansas is going to be considering making similar adjustments to get themselves out of their midseason funk, but I’m not sure that’s a great idea in this incredibly tough road environment. I’ve got Kentucky handing Kansas their fourth loss in a row.

73-71 Kentucky

Ole Miss @ Oklahoma State

Saturday, January 28th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN2

Oklahoma State (11-9) has actually been on a decent three game conference streak. Their most recent game was a 14 point loss to #10 Texas, but prior to that they secured a blowout victory over rival Oklahoma and a close win over #12 Iowa State. Ole Miss (9-11) doesn’t have much of anything going for them right now, as they’ve lost eight of their last nine games, with their sole win coming over South Carolina who is also pretty atrocious. So especially with this game being at home, I expect Oklahoma State to pick up another win and potentially build more momentum for the rest of the season.

78-65 Oklahoma State

Big 12/SEC Challenge Overall Prediction: 5-5 tie