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Big 12 Ushers in 2011 With Five Games On Unoffical "Start To College Basketball Season" Day

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In what is the second-to-last time most teams will prepare before Big 12 conference play begins on Saturday, January 8, the docket is almost half full with five games being played on Sunday. If the conference loses any of these games I promise a guest column - on any topic - to a commenter picked at random. So let us know what you think in the comments section.

And I would like to pronounce today as the unofficial start to college basketball season. With most of the bowl games out of the way, fans can start focusing their attention on roundball... finally.

North Dakota Fighting Sioux vs Nebraska Cornhuskers - 1 p.m. CT
Nebraska is a surprising 10-2 on the season and should add another to the win column as they face the 4-8 Fighting Sioux. Of the Sioux's four wins, two have come against non-D1 opponents, with the other two against Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Sacramento St. Hornets. Brian Jorge Diaz and Lance Jeter pace the Huskers, both averaging double figures in scoring.
[Ed. Note: Nebraska pushes game to Monday at 7 p.m.]

Texas A&M-CC Islanders vs Texas Tech Red Raiders - 2 p.m. CT
The Islanders finish off their Big 12 barnstorming against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Thus far this season, TAMCC has lost to The Texas A&M Aggies, Oklahoma St. Cowboys and Kansas Jayhawks, before closing out their pre-conference play in Lubbock. Expect big games from Mike Singletary, John Roberson and David Tairu against a porous Islander defense.

Texas Southern Tigers vs Baylor Bears - 2:30 p.m.
Poor Texas Southern. Their non-conference schedule is a like a who's who of tournament eligible teams: Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas St. Drake, Iowa St. Arkansas and now Baylor. Though they did topple the Oregon St. Beavers, their only other win was against Texas State. This might be the blowout game that Perry Jones III, LaceDarius Dunn and A.J. Walton need to wake up for their pre-conference comas.

Miami (OH) Redhawks vs. Kansas Jayhawks - 5 p.m.
Can't really say that Miami has had a cakewalk this pre-conference play. With this game, the Redhawks will have played the number 1 (Duke Blue Devils), number two (Ohio St. Buckeyes) and number three teams in the country. Against number one and two they were only able to muster 45 points apiece, so their satisfaction will be in  toppling that mark. I can't imagine Josh Selby, Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris or Markieff Morris will allow them to do so.

Colorado Buffaloes vs Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners - 7 p.m. CT
This will be the first BCS opponent for the 8-5 Roadrunners, meaning they have lost five games against mostly inferior opponents. I see this as another momentum building game for Alec Burks, Cory Higgins and the Buffs, following their win against the Indiana Hoosiers in Las Vegas.