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My top basketball matchups in the Big 12 this week, and my Big 12 player of the week.
Top Matchups in the Big 12 This Week
#9 Kansas (8-1) vs #7 Ohio State (8-1) | (Saturday, Dec. 22) This is of course the prime game in Big 12 hoops this week. Two top 10 ranked teams with only one loss apiece going head-to-head is sure to make all college basketball fans excited about the holiday weekend. Kansas is by far right now the elite program in the Big 12 this season. In only their second game of the season they lost to #20 Michigan State (9-2) by three points. They should easily handle Richmond and get to go into OSU ready to take on a really great Buckeyes squad. Ohio State lone loss was by five points to #1 Duke (9-0), the same undefeated #1 Duke team that has beat Kentucky (7-3), #13 Minnesota (11-1), and #5 Louisville (5-1). OSU has a solid team, but their star is junior forward Deshaun Thomas who is averaging 20.3 ppg, and 6.7 rpg while shooting 42.9% from downtown on more than 6 three point attempts per game. He can play from any part of the court so KU needs to be aware of this and get pressure on him at all times. I think Kansas is a more complete team than Ohio State. Freshman star guard Ben McLemore (16.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg) along with the two senior leaders center Jeff Withey (13.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) & guard Travis Releford (13.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg) will need to step it up if they are going to win this road game. I keep going back and forth on who I think will win this one and it’s a toss-up. OSU has the game at home and has the stronger, more powerful unit but KU is such a complete team and has the better overall talent. I am going to pick Jayhawks in this one, but I really think it might come down to who has the last shot of the game. Predicted Winner - Kansas
Kansas State (7-2) vs #8 Florida (7-1) | (Saturday, Dec. 22) There’s not a whole lot of reasoning why I picked this as the top matchup besides that the other games that I could’ve picked this week were UT against North Carolina and Michigan State (I think UT will be crushed in both these games). This is a matchup that I get the feeling could be closer than people expect. Here’s my reasoning; it’s being played in KC at the Sprint Center over the holiday weekend. There should be a lot of people that are supporting KSU at the game and it will give them a little bit more excitement to do something special. KSU just came off a whipping by Gonzaga but will gain some confidence back against Texas Southern this week before the Florida game. Last week I went into the Wildcats roster with more analysis, but the one name to remember is senior guard Rodney McGruder (11.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) who is the leader that would need to step up if KSU wants to make a game out of this matchup. Florida relies on lots of players with four of the Gators averaging double figures in points per game. As badly as I hope this is a good game, I think Florida will pull away without looking back in the 2nd half. Predicted Winner - Florida
Big 12 Player of the Week
Isaiah Austin (Baylor)| How could I not pick the 7’1’’ freshman as the player of the week with his performance against Pat Knight and Lamar? Austin had 23 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block. He was 11-19 from the field, and was 1-2 from three-point land. As I have said before if you have not had the opportunity to watch Austin play and you are a hoops fan please make it a priority. He is over seven foot and plays like a small forward. He can dribble, drive, shoot, and run the court. It is very impressive to see something like it.