It's almost time to get down to business. This weekend is the last gasp before conference play starts on Monday. There's a full New Year's Eve slate, with eight Big 12 teams playing. Auld Lang Syne, Big 12ers. See you in 2012!
Missouri (12-0) at Old Dominion (6-6), 6:00 CST, ESPNU.
The eighth-ranked Tigers put their perfect record to the test as they face Old Dom in Norfolk. Mizzou won the Braggin' Rights game against Illinois in a nail-biter with no significant contributions from Marcus Denmon or Kim English. This Old Dom team is not unfamiliar with facing highly-ranked opponents.They lost 62-52 to Kentucky, but not before putting up a good fight.
Southeastern Louisiana (5-5) at Texas Tech (6-5), 8:00 CST, ESPNU.
Texas Tech is undefeated at home and Southeastern Louisiana hasn't won an away game yet. This game's being played in Lubbock. So if I had to pick a winner... . This game's worth tuning in to see Jordan Tolbert continue to be the best thing about Red Raider Basketball. He's scored more than 20 points in the last four games, including 27 points in Tech's victory over Cal State-Bakersfield.
Virginia Tech (10-3) at Oklahoma State (7-5), 11:00 CST, ESPN2.
The Cowboys, fresh off a double-overtime win against SMU, host the Virginia Tech Hokies. Keiton Page, who had 27 points against SMU, and Le'Bryan Nash will need to step up on Saturday if they want a little revenge. Oklahoma State has already faced Virginia Tech once this season in the NIT Season Tip-Off on November 25. The Hokies won 59-57.
Mississippi Valley State (1-10) at Iowa State (9-3), 12:00 CST, ESPN3.
The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils are hoping for a easier 2012. They've played nine away games so far (Iowa State will be their 10th) against opponents like UNC, Florida, and Wisconsin. Now there's only Fred Hoiberg's squad to face before the cakewalk that the Southwestern Athletic Conference will be in comparison. Delta Devils, let loose this New Year's Eve. You've earned it.
Rice (9-4) at Texas (9-3), 1:00 CST, Longhorn Network.
The Owls visit Austin for a little palate cleanser before conference play. The Longhorns would sure like to get rid of the taste of that 82-63 pummeling by UNC. Rice has just logged wins over Texas A&M and A&M-Corpus Christi. The Owls are rebounding fiends (seventh in the nation, thanks to Arsalan Kazemi who averages 12.5 per game) — something this Texas team needs to watch out for.
Howard (4-10) at Kansas State (10-1), 1:00 CST, ESPN3.
It's been a good few weeks for the Wildcats. They cracked the top 25, beat Long Beach State and Alabama, and got to spend the holidays in Hawaii. Not too shabby. Howard shouldn't be much of an obstacle for Kansas State. On Thursday, the Bison went down 89-34 to Kansas in one of those games that's not even fun to watch.
Northwestern State (7-6) at Oklahoma (9-2), 2:00 CST, Sooner Sports Network.
The Sooners juuust lost to the Cincinnati Bearcats in a 56-55 heartbreaker on Thursday — the Sooner's first loss in five games. Cincy got 16 points off 18 Sooner turnovers. Steven Pledger (perhaps flustered by being named our Junior of the Preconference) had six of those turnovers. Hopefully, he'll return to form on Saturday. Northwestern State is coming off a loss to Mississippi State.
North Dakota (5-7) at Kansas (9-3), 3:00 CST, ESPNU.
The 18th-ranked Jayhawks are coming of a ridiculously lopsided 55-point victory over Howard. (Afterward, Kansas player Kevin Young said, "I feel like the bench showed a lot more than we have been showing." You don't say!). North Dakota won't be quite the bloodbath that Howard was. The Fighting Sioux are led by Troy Huff, who averages 13.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.