Saturday, January 30, 2016
Big 12/SEC Challenge
As we reach the end of January and the heart of the conference slate the Big 12 and SEC are gearing up for an inter conference showdown. The coaches hate this challenge being in the middle of the conference season and I don't blame them. As a college basketball fan I think it's great. This challenge wouldn't have had nearly the buzz on a Tuesday night in early December before Simmons and Hield proved themselves to be the best two players in college basketball. It would be fun if more conferences did this on the same weekend. They could even do it the weekend of the Super Bowl and cal it Super Madness? They may not want to compete with the NFL so maybe Pro Bowl weekend is best. Anyway, I'll attempt to preview the ten games and make an accurate prediction.
One thing to keep in mind with this challenge is it includes all Big 12 teams and excludes the bottom four SEC teams.
West Virginia at Florida (-1.5)
The loss of Holton hurts for West Virginia. Florida is starting to play better as of late and is at home in this one. My hope is West Virginia is able to find enough offense to scrape out a win on the road and keep their Top 10 status for Tuesday's showdown in Hilton.
I think Press Virginia causes enough havoc and edges out a 2.5 hour win 71-66.
Vanderbilt at Texas (-1)
Vanderbilt is a good team. Texas is starting to find its way on both sides of the ball. Texas has about as many quality wins as anyone in the country. I think Shaka gets them another one today in a faster paced game.
Texas 81 Vanderbilt 76
Ole Miss at Kansas State (-7)
I admittedly don't know much about Ole Miss outside of Stefan Moody and that they are no long we appointment television like they used to be with Marshall Henderson. Kansas State as a seven point favorite is enough to convince me the young Wildcats will pull it out.
Kansas State 67 Ole Miss 60
Iowa State at Texas A&M (-4.5)
This turned out to be a much bigger opponent than we all originally thought before the season started. It still would have been really fun to see Kentucky come in to Hilton with the roster ISU currently has.
TAMU is good, very good. They are favored for a reason but the homer in me sees the Cyclones pulling this out. It will be interesting to see how much and how well Jameel McKay plays in this one. The Aggies have a talented freshman center. If Niang gets matched up on him though in a small ball game I think he can take his lunch.
I look for the Cyclones to mix up some more zone in this game and see how the Aggies respond. I think this one goes similar to Oklahoma game in Norman but this time the Cyclones slow it down enough and control the game toward the end to pull out a win.
Iowa State 79 Texas A&M 71
Texas Tech at Arkansas (-5.5)
Texas Tech is better than people think. Tubby has them trending in the right direction and Zach Smith is an athletic freak. However I think Arkansas backs up their big win Wednesday with a home win over Texas Tech.
Arkansas 81 Texas Tech 67
Oklahoma at LSU (+4.5)
This matchup turned out like gold for ESPN. The best two players in college basketball matchup in this one. LSU is much better now that they are healthy. Simmons will get his, as will Hield but I have a hard time believing that Jones can out scheme Krueger. It will be a fun one. OU hits 13 3's and maintains their #1 ranking.
Oklahoma 85 LSU 76
Georgia at Baylor (-11.5)
Georgia isn't very good. Baylor is. This one gets ugly and doesn't need any more analysis.
Baylor 79 Georgia 61
Tennessee at TCU (+1.5)
I wish Tennessee was going back to Texas. Maybe next year. TCU misses Kyan Anderson big time. They just aren't very good this year. I think Rick Barnes notches a win at TCU. Something his former school couldn't do.
Tennessee 65 TCU 60
Kentucky at Kansas (-5.5)
What a dynamite matchup this was preseason. Is this another year where Kentucky falls out of the Top 10 only to gain steam and wind up in the Final Four? Kansas has some issues right now. Will Self continue to hold his diaper dandies hostage on the bench or turn them loose in order to reap the rewards in March? It might be in KU's best interest to feed them to the wolves and risk ending their conference championship steak. I don't think Self will though. It's tough to bet against KU at the Phog but I think this ends up as the most exciting game of the challenge.
Kansas 74 Kentucky 72
Oklahoma State at Auburn (+1.5)
Remember the first Big12/SEC Challenge when ISU ran all over Auburn? That was pre Bruce Pearl. Auburn isn't there yet but they are going to be soon. Juwan Evans vs Kareem Canty will be a matchup to watch in this one. I think Bruce Pearl and Auburn sweat out a win in this one at home.
Auburn 80 Okie State 75
Big 12 6 SEC 4