The SEC/Huge 12 Problem is a significant occasion within the faculty basketball calendar, with high-profile non-conference playoffs in late January serving as a short respite from the collegiate play mill. Between them, these leagues characteristic 9 of the 25 groups presently ranked within the AP Ballot, together with three of the highest 5 groups and 7 of the highest 12 groups. Here is a take a look at the highest matches at Saturday’s occasion and what is going to decide every match.
1. No. 10 Texas at No. 4 Tennessee, 6 p.m. ET
This matchup seems like an Elite Eight or Last 4 recreation, and it might have main implications for the race for the No. 1 seed within the NCAA Event in March. It pits the vaunted Tennessee protection that ranks as the very best unit nationally based mostly on KenPom in opposition to a Texans crew loaded with veteran weapons on the offensive finish.
The Longhorns have had some excellent wins, however they’re nonetheless on the lookout for that resume-topping win, and a win over the Vols would definitely qualify for that. Tennessee ranks second within the web due to some large victory margins: 13 of its 17 wins have are available double figures, together with a 29-point win final day trip in opposition to Georgia. Considered one of Tennessee’s principal strengths is compelled turnovers, although they might have some hassle doing so in opposition to an skilled backcourt Texas crew that takes care of the ball very nicely. However to drag off the upset, the Longhorns will probably want a sizzling taking pictures day from past the arc. No crew defends all three higher than Tennessee, with groups taking pictures lower than 22% deep in opposition to them this season.
2. No. 9 Kansas at Kentucky, 8 p.m. ET
These groups met final yr on the occasion and produced a outcome that appears superb looking back: Kentucky defeated Kansas 80-62 at Allen Fieldhouse in a recreation that wasn’t practically as shut as it could recommend. The sport catapulted Kentucky into potential favorites to win the nationwide championship and served as a warning signal of what the Jayhawks may appear to be in opposition to an elite crew.
Lower than three months later, Kentucky was coping with the enduring embarrassment of dropping to St. Peter’s, whereas Kansas was on a profitable run in a nationwide championship. It is a good reminder to not learn too many particular person scores throughout the common season!
This rivalry is nice: Kentucky is lastly hitting its stride after a disastrous begin to the season, profitable 4 straight since a disastrous loss to South Carolina despatched shockwaves via the school basketball scene. On the flip aspect, Kansas was dealing with its first actual adversity of the season, dropping three in a row together with being defeated at dwelling by TCU on Saturday. The Jayhawks haven’t got a real inside presence to match Oscar Chipuis, however Kansas’ passing skill might trigger issues for a Kentucky protection that has actually struggled to defend in area.
3. Arkansas at #17 Baylor, 4 p.m. ET
Baylor has gained 5 consecutive Huge 12 contests heading into this showdown with the Razorbacks, who’re beginning to flip issues round after beginning 1-5 within the SEC. It is a matchup between two of the very best freshmen within the nation in Baylor’s Keyonte George and Arkansas’ Anthony Black, each of whom had main roles offensively of their first (and sure solely) faculty seasons.
George wired to attain, however had his share of inconsistent play to date for the Bears. He scored simply eight factors and had extra assists than passers-by in Monday’s win over Kansas, however veterans Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer picked up the hunch with a mixed 39 factors. Black’s strengths are distributor, however with fellow freshman Nick Smith out, Black has scored in double figures in 5 of the crew’s final six video games. Whichever younger guard wins that battle is setting his crew in excellent form to assert a CV-building win on the finish of January.
4. Florida at No. 5 Kansas State, 6 p.m. ET
This recreation added that means past simply the stakes on the courtroom. Kansas State star Contay Johnson places it up in opposition to his former teammate, who final wore it greater than two years in the past when he collapsed on the sector throughout a recreation in opposition to Florida State. Johnson spent practically two years in rehab, transferred to Kansas State within the low season, and has now starred on a Wildcat crew that was among the many largest within the nation.
Johnson is averaging over 18 factors and 7 rebounds per recreation this season, making up some of the fearsome doubles in sports activities. Level guard Marques Noel. Noel and Johnson could be a handful of Florida’s profitable 5 out of six after a 7-7 begin. The Gators might actually use a win for his or her NCAA match hopes, as they presently sit at The subsequent 4 out Sports activities IllustratedNewest anticipated subject.
5. No. 12 Iowa State at Missouri, 2 p.m. ET
One of many nation’s finest offenses takes on one of many nation’s finest defenses in an intriguing conflict of types on this recreation. The Missouri offense underneath Dennis Gates was constructed on taking note of the ball and spacing the ground with loads of threes, a check of an Iowa defensive unit that thrives on getting you out of your ingredient and forcing turnovers. The Hurricanes are forcing a turnover of 28% on their opponents’ possessions this season, the very best mark within the nation. This troubled protection has been the catalyst for Iowa’s prosperity right into a Huge 12 contender anticipated to be a top-four seed within the NCAA Event in March.
For Missouri, this recreation is an opportunity to seize a marquee victory and cement its standing as an NCAA Event crew in Gates’ first season on the helm of this system. That will completely full the turnaround, contemplating the Tigers misplaced 21 video games final season underneath Cuonzo Martin. They will have a boisterous crowd on their aspect to try to cross the end line, however we’ll see if they will generate sufficient offense in opposition to this stingy opponent.