With three top-ten CBB matchups this weekend, the rankings are sure to shake up as we head towards the second half of January. While there might not be the same type of tilts from the ACC and Pac-12, this coming week could define the Big 12 race with three matchups between ranked squads from that conference.
Plus, is there another, potentially more dangerous pothole on the horizon for Kentucky? The Wildcats have shown that we can’t sleep on its SEC opponents, especially when John Calipari’s talented but young bunch goes on the road. Here are the games to watch this coming week in college basketball.
Monday, 9pm ET: No. 18 Oklahoma at No. 9 Kansas
Quick, who is ranked no. 1 in the nation in RPI? Kentucky? Virginia? Nope. It’s the Kansas Jayhawks.
The computers love that the Jayhawks have road wins against Michigan State, Georgetown, and Baylor, and one of their two losses came against Kentucky. Bill Self finally has his team turning the corner in the past week by controlling the games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Those teams may not be the class of the Big 12, but Kansas guard Perry Ellis is starting to look for his shot more, a team-benefitting move on his part given his ability to score in bunches. The Big 12 is daunting this season, but Kansas isn’t backing down.
Saturday, 12pm ET: No. 1 Kentucky at South Carolina
The computers also love the Gamecocks, although their rankings have fallen since December with losses to Florida and Ole Miss. Regardless, South Carolina is another team that could give the Wildcats problems because, like Ole Miss, they have multiple guards who could go off on any given night.
Duane Notice, Sindarius Thornwell, Tyrone Johnson all average in double figures and typically rotate taking home leading-scorer honors. That makes them extremely tough to defend on the perimeter. However, their size will be an issue against the tall and lanky Wildcat defenders. All three guards are 6-foot-5 or shorter.
Saturday, 2pm ET: No. 9 Kansas at No. 20 Texas
Like I said, the Jayhawks face a very trying week. Texas showed a lot of potential in November and December, even jumping into the top 10, but they haven’t been able to gel since the injured Isaiah Thomas returned. I keep waiting for the team to be better with his presence on the court, but the fact of the matter is that the offense has stalled since the point guard’s return.
He’ll have to be less of a scorer and more of a delivery man to Myles Turner and Jonathan Holmes down low if the Longhorns want to return to their winning ways.
Saturday, 6pm ET: No. 18 Oklahoma at No. 22 Baylor
The Bears have been tough to figure out in Big 12 play. Since the start of January, they’ve lost to Oklahoma and Kansas and beaten TCU and Iowa State.
To stay in the running for the conference title, Baylor needs to win games at home like the top-25 showdown against Oklahoma on Saturday. A win would put the Bears back in the top 20 and keep them just two games behind the Jayhawks, which as you can clearly see here may drop a game or two themselves this week.