The latest edition of the SEC-Big 12 Basketball Challenge is set to go down on Saturday. Let’s see what’s on tap, shall we?
TENNESSEE vs. WEST VIRGINIA
The No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers are going to host the West Virginia Mountaineers. When this matchup was announced, both sides were probably hoping that WVU would be better than 9-10 on the year. This would’ve been an otherwise intriguing matchup considering the Vols’ successes this season and WVU’s run of success the last few years. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers are the worst team in the Big 12 by a wide margin. They’re 1-6 in Big 12 play and 92nd on KenPom, 17 spots below the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the second-worst Big 12 team by AdjEM.
Tennessee should likely roll in this one.
KENTUCKY vs. KANSAS
Do you have fatigue from this matchup? It’s okay to admit it. The Kentucky Wildcats will face off with the Kansas Jayhawks for a Saturday night tilt in Lexington. These two teams will meet for the seventh time since the 2011-12 season. Granted, most of the matchups have been pretty good. The margins of victory for either side has been 10 or less in five of the six matchups, the lone outlier being the 32-point beatdown UK gave Kansas in the 2014 Champions Classic.
Kentucky will be hoping to snap their three-game losing streak to the Jayhawks, as they haven’t won since that aforementioned ass whooping.
SOUTH CAROLINA vs. OKLAHOMA STATE
In our next matchup, the surprising South Carolina Gamecocks face off with aforementioned Oklahoma State. South Carolina is surging of late, having posted a 5-1 record in league play to this point. Chris Silva has played like a man possessed and he may be fixing up to do it again come Saturday in Stillwater. The Gamecocks will certainly be hoping to maintain their winning ways when they hit the road for this matchup.
OLE MISS vs. IOWA STATE
The Ole Miss Rebels have slipped of late, and things won’t get easier on Saturday. They’ll welcome the Iowa State Cyclones to Oxford for one of the first matchups of the day. The Cyclones are coming in off a loss to Kansas and are 4-3 in Big 12 play. But they still stand as one of the best teams in the nation by most metrics, and rank 13th on KenPom right now. This should be a fascinating matchup, all things considered, and a huge opportunity for Ole Miss to get a quality win.
FLORIDA vs. TCU
In another intriguing matchup, the Florida Gators go to Fort Worth to face the TCU Horned Frogs. This game features two Top 30 KenPom teams and two of the best defenses in the nation. This game may be short on points by day’s end but you still should want to tune into this one. It might fly under the radar, but it could be one of the best matchups in this entire challenge.
ALABAMA vs. BAYLOR
The Alabama Crimson Tide will be hoping to cool down the Baylor Bears in Waco. The Bears have won their last three, four of their last five, six of their last eight and seven of their last 10 as they enter play on Saturday. ‘Bama, meanwhile, has won two of three but conversely have lost three of their last five. The Tide will have another shot to defeat a Top 50 KenPom team. They have gone 3-2 against such teams this year, with a most recent win over Ole Miss, ranked 37th.
ARKANSAS vs. TEXAS TECH
Mike Anderson’s Arkansas Razorbacks will have their hands full Saturday in Lubbock. The Hogs will battle Chris Beard’s Texas Tech Red Raiders, whom of course possess one of the best defenses in the country. In fact, it’s the top-rated defense in AdjDE, eFG% allowed and hey rank 3rd in 3PT defense and 4th in 2PT defense. The one thing that may help them is that Tech is sliding lately. They’ve lost their last three and scored only 45 points in their last game against Kansas State. Arkansas will have to hope they bring their A-game offensively to take them down.
GEORGIA vs. TEXAS
Hey, it’s like the Sugar Bowl. Unfortunately for the Georgia Bulldogs, that result might wind up being of similar fashion. The Dawgs are 1-5 in league play and 9-9 as they enter this matchup against the Texas Longhorns. While Texas is 11-8 and merely 3-4 in Big 12 play, they still rank 29th on KenPom and are rated highly defensively. Georgia will certainly have their hands full, but they do have the benefit of hosting the Longhorns in this one at the very least.
TEXAS A&M vs. KANSAS STATE
The Texas A&M Aggies and Kansas State Wildcats will face off in College Station. The Wildcats are 15-4 after a sluggish start to the year and come into this game riding high on a five-game win streak. They’ve knocked off four straight Top 25 KenPom teams and have looked about as good as they have all season in doing so. The Aggies, meanwhile, remain in free fall. They’ve lost six of their last seven games and haven’t quite looked impressive in any of their games either. Hopefully they can conjure up some magic, because this looks like it could be another defeat on Saturday.
VANDERBILT vs. OKLAHOMA
Simi Shittu and the Vanderbilt Commodores will tackle the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday in Norman. OU comes into this game at 14-5 on the season and they’re currently 3-4 in Big 12 play. Like many others in the Big 12, defense is the name of the game for OU as their profile ranks among the best in the nation. Vandy has struggled mightily lately, having lost their last six, all in SEC play. It will certainly be a challenge for them to get over the hump and end their woes in the process.