If I've got my days right, we are officially at the halfway point of the college basketball offseason (sigh). With that, we've got ESPN whetting our appetites with announcing the Big 12 half of their Big Monday schedule.
And it's a good one. Really good, in fact.
National runner-up Kansas will make a conference-high four appearances on the slate while newbie-to-the-league West Virginia, Baylor and Texas will make three appearances apiece. Kansas State will be on twice.
The Iowa State Cyclones make their long-awaited return to Big Monday while both Oklahoma schools will also be on once. The full schedule (with a lame attempt at analysis) is after the jump.
January 14: Baylor at Kansas 8pm CT
This will be the first game since the two conference heavyweights went at it during the Big 12 tournament in March. Kansas will be stacked and so will Baylor. Getcha popcorn ready.
January 21: Oklahoma State at Baylor 4:30pm CT AND Texas at Oklahoma 8:30pm CT
These are the weakest Big 12 games since ESPN went to the Big East/Big 12 doubleheader on MLK Day. Oklahoma State is bound to improve from last year with the recruits coming in alongside sophomore Le'Bryan Nash, so the first game could be good for maybe a half. OK now the second game. I get that it's a rivalry game but it looks like a major mismatch on paper. It wouldn't look attractive to the national audience, considering whatever blockbuster Big East game is preceding it.
January 28: Kansas at West Virginia 8pm CT
West Virginia will make their first-ever Big Monday appearance at 9pm ET. Sure it's not the same as playing a Big East team but Kansas coming in is not too bad of a consolation prize. Too bad we won't see something like this again, though.
February 4: Texas at West Virginia 8pm CT
After seeing Texas struggle to get in the tournament, this Longhorn bunch is older and much more talented. Myck Kabongo and Sheldon McClellan are the cornerstones. Don't know how Deniz Kilicli will deal with Texas' bigs.
February 11: Kansas State at Kansas 8pm CT
On the surface, it's the Sunflower Showdown but it is also the Battle of the Last Two Coaches of Illinois Basketball. Maybe that's not important, but after yet another tumultuous season for Bruce Weber, he unexpectedly landed feet first as head coach of Kansas State. Wildcat fans are still upset about the hire much like Missouri fans were after Frank Haith got the job. Not saying the same instant success will happen for Bruce, but this could really work out for K-State in the long run. Oh and the game? Kansas. Didn't have to think about it.
February 18: West Virginia at Kansas State 8pm CT
Love, love, love this game. Bob Huggins will make his return to the Octagon of Doom and the basketball culture that he helped revive. Two teams with similar styles of old school, tough-nosed basketball will be a welcome sight to see. Hopefully, this'll be the start of a long and prosperous rivalry.
February 25: Kansas at Iowa State 8pm CT
Who could forget Iowa State's upset win against Kansas last year that brought Cyclone basketball back to national relevance? ISU will be a completely different basketball team but they're loaded with transfers again with former Michigan Stater Korie Lucious and ex-Utah Ute Will Clyburn. As long as those two guys are hitting their threes, there's always a chance.
March 4: Baylor at Texas 8pm CT
There will be a lot of young talent on the floor in this one. And the featured matchup here will be between freshmen centers/massive humans Isaiah Austin and Cameron Ridley. Austin is a 7-footer who handles the ball well and can beat you inside or out. The 6-10 Ridley has good size, strength and a vastly improved offensive game, Should be fun.