Big 12 preview/predictions:
“Big Monday” takes center stage again this week as bitter Big 12 rivals Kansas and Missouri square off in round one of the basketball version of the Border Showdown.
Game one in the 2009 regular-season series between the two teams is at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. The Jayhawks and Tigers will meet again, in Columbia, in the final game of the regular season on March 6. The two teams split their games a year ago, with Missouri holding home court with a dramatic last-second win in Columbia, and Kansas coming out on top in the return engagement in Lawrence.
Kansas leads the overall hoops series with Missouri 167-94. More than half of those wins (86) have come at Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks have lost only 33 times to the Tigers in 119 tries.
Before Monday rolls around, however, both teams have conference games this weekend that they can’t afford to overlook.
Kansas State coach Frank Martin has some fun after the
Wildcats’ convincing upset win over No. 1 Texas, sporting
a fake beard in support of junior guard Jacob Pullen’s
facial growth. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas is the only area team that plays away from home this weekend. The Jayhawks (17-1, 3-0), ranked third nationally and in their familiar first-place position in the Big 12 standings through the first three conference games, will be in Ames, Ia., to battle the Iowa State Cyclones (12-6, 1-2). Kansas has had its troubles at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum over the years, something that KU coach Bill Self and his staff are very mindful of as the Jayhawks go after their fourth consecutive conference win of the season and their second road victory.
The Jayhawks’ record against Iowa State in the 14 years since the Big 12 was formed is 21-7. Only Missouri, with 9 wins, has triumphed more times over Kansas during that time span.
Missouri, 14-4 on the year and currently in fourth place in the conference race, is back home over the weekend, hosting Nebraska (12-6, 0-3), which is still seeking its first conference win this season. The Tigers have not played since losing last weekend at Oklahoma, where MU dropped its first conference game to fall to 2-1.
Missouri’s Justin Safford is one of the
key rotation players that make up
the Tigers frenetic “Fastest 40 Minutes
in Basketball” style of play.
Kansas State (16-2, 3-1), ranked ninth in the country in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll and sure to move up in the rankings after its stunning 71-62 upset win over No. 1 Texas, plays at home on Saturday for a second straight game, entertaining another tough Big 12 South opponent in Oklahoma State (15-3, 3-1). This contest shapes up as the featured game of the weekend in Big 12 play.
Frank Martin’s surprising Wildcats come into the game with OSU with the third best scoring offense in the conference, 10th nationally, at 82.4 points per game, led by junior guard Jacob Pullen, third in the conference in scoring. Through four games, Oklahoma State boasts the conference’s fifth-best defense, holding Big 12 opponents to 64 points a game. The Cowboys pack some offensive punch as well behind the league’s top scorer in James Anderson, averaging almost 22 points a game.
On Tuesday, Kansas State takes on a third straight opponent from the Big 12 South as the Wildcats venture away from the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum for a road test against the nationally-ranked Baylor Bears (14-3, 1-2), who took Kansas to the limit before losing on Wednesday in Lawrence.
The weekend schedule includes two non-conference games involving Big 12 teams. Texas (17-1, 3-1), which started the week at No. 1 in the polls, will try to get back in the victory column, but the Longhorns will have to do it in Storrs, Conn., against the 21st-ranked Connecticut Huskies (12-6) out of the Big East. In the other Big 12 out-of-conference contest, Baylor hosts the University of Massachusetts.
Here’s what the Kansas City Sports Examiner forecasts in the Big 12 basketball wars this coming week:
Big 12 basketball picks (January 23-27)
Saturday, January 23
Oklahoma State @ KANSAS STATE (K-State by 8)
KANSAS @ Iowa State (KU by 8)
Nebraska @ MISSOURI (MU by 12)
Colorado @ TEXAS A&M (T-A&M by 10)
OKLAHOMA @ Texas Tech (OU by 3)
TEXAS @ Connecticut (Texas by 5)
UMass @ BAYLOR (Baylor by 11)
Monday, January 25
Missouri @ KANSAS (KU by 8)
Tuesday, January 26
Kansas State @ BAYLOR (Baylor by 6)
Wednesday, January 27
Texas A&M @ OKLAHOMA State (OSU by 4)
Iowa State @ OKLAHOMA (OU by 6)
Texas Tech @ TEXAS (UT by 12)
Nebraska @ COLORADO (CU by 6)
Last week: 9-2
For the season: 19-5
For more information:
Big 12 Conference
Kansas State athletics