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Saturday Preview: Say Hello to the Big 12

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Saturday, there are six conference games.  That's right, every team in the Big 12 will take to the floor January 15th in what should be an epic day of basketball.  Here are the match-ups in chronological order.

Oklahoma St. Cowboys at Colorado Buffaloes (11:30 AM, Big 12 Network): this is probably shaping up to be the second best game of the weekend.  After a lukewarm start, the Buffs are storming the top of the conference with a win over Missouri and a road win over Kansas State.  Not bad for a team that got blown out at Harvard.  On the other side of the floor, Oklahoma State quietly got off to a terrific start (albeit against less than terrific teams), headlined by a very strong win over K-State in Stillwater.  They're coming off a blowout at Texas A&M (they also lost to middling Virginia Tech and were blown out by Gonzaga), so Colorado should expect the Cowboys' best effort.

Missouri Tigers at Texas A&M Aggies (12:00 PM, ESPN2): this is without a doubt the most interesting match-up of the weekend.  On one hand you have Mark Turgeon's Aggies: physical, defense-minded, slow (tempo-wise) and dominant at home.  Standing opposite the Aggies you have Mike Anderson's Tigers: breakneck pace, shoot-out mentality and impossible to count out anywhere.  The Aggies have a huge edge since the game is being played in College Station, but I think whoever is able to control the tempo will come out victorious.

Texas Tech Red Raiders at Kansas St. Wildcats (12:30 PM, Big 12 Network): this is the Wildcats' chance to find their collective feet, and try to get the wheels back on so Jacob Pullen doesn't have to worry about playing in the NIT.  Texas Tech has played about as bad as anyone in the country despite decent talent.  They were just obliterated at home by Texas in what had to be a morale killer.  Kansas State had incredibly high expectations coming into the season, but has watched the wheels slowly fall off their bandwagon, culminating in their most recent home loss to Colorado.  Frank Martin and Pat Knight will need to be big-time motivators for their squads to try and end the downward spiral.  As to the winner, I'm taking Frank Martin.  That glare would motivate anyone.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Kansas Jayhawks (1:00 PM, ESPNU): I'm not sure I can come up with a reason Kansas could lose this game other than it's sort of a trap game (coming off a close road win at Iowa State and right before a tough road outing to Waco).  Still, I'm not sure the potential trap game can outmatch homecourt advantage, much less the Jayhawks' talent.  Nebraska has been a pleasant surprise this year, but going into Lawrence and coming out with a win is a lot to ask for a program that hasn't notched an NCAA Tournament victory since its inception.

Oklahoma Sooners at Texas Longhorns (3:00 PM, Big 12 Network): even if I had the Big 12 Network, I would avoid this game at all costs.  Unless you're a Longhorn fan who likes to watch blow-outs.  After seeing Texas' total dismantling of Texas Tech on the road, I'm not sure there's a snowball's chance in hell the Sooners can walk out of Austin with a victory.  But you never know.  Still, I'd at least wait to see the halftime score before tuning into this one.

Baylor Bears at Iowa St. Cyclones (5:00 PM, CTN): this could be the most interesting of the afternoon games.  Baylor has inspired little to no confidence that they can win on the road, and Iowa State hasn't looked half bad in Fred Hoiberg's debut season.  The Bears definitely have more talent, but the Cyclones have played better this season.  This is the kind of game Scott Drew's squad has to win if they want to get back on track.