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Big 12 can show its might in SEC challenge

Saturday’s slate of games will either challenge or cement the nation’s perception of each conference.

Kansas v West Virginia Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

If there were ever a time to cheer for Texas, Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor, that time is now.

The Big 12/SEC Challenge is an opportunity to increase the merit of one conference over another, which will influence the NCAA Selection Committee a great deal in March.

As it stands, the Big 12 has four teams ranked in the top-25, with two others receiving votes (TCU and Kansas State), while the SEC has three, though No. 19 Auburn will not be participating in the challenge. It’s worth noting basketball blue-blood Kentucky is presently unranked, but should by no means be underestimated.

Tech fans should be cheering for a sweep this Saturday, however unlikely, because a 9-9 record in the Big 12 would look a lot more respectable if the conference kicked around the SEC in this challenge. The Red Raiders are 5-3 in Big 12 play right now with 10 more games left in conference play, but finishing .500 in a league this stacked is far easier said than done.

Here’s what the challenge looks like, with times and networks:

2018 Big 12/SEC CHALLENGE

Saturday, January 27

(all times Central)

Baylor at No. 20 Florida (ESPN), 11 a.m.

No. 14 Texas Tech at South Carolina (ESPN2), 11 a.m.

Mississippi at Texas (ESPN2), 1 p.m.

Georgia at Kansas State (ESPNU), 1 p.m.

No. 12 Oklahoma at Alabama (ESPN), 1:15 p.m.

TCU at Vanderbilt (ESPN2), 3 p.m.

No. 22 Tennessee at Iowa State (ESPNU), 3 p.m.

Texas A&M at No. 5 Kansas (ESPN), 3:30 p.m. or 6 p.m.

Kentucky at No. 7 West Virginia (ESPN), 3:30 p.m. or 6 p.m.

Oklahoma State at Arkansas (ESPN2), 5 p.m.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think the Big 12 can win eight of the 10 games here and thoroughly express itself as the superior league. The must-win matchups are:

Kentucky at No. 7 West Virginia

The Mountaineers thankfully have home court advantage against a raw but extremely talented Wildcat team. Forcing a lot of turnovers against an inexperienced team is all we can ask of West Virginia, and let Jevon Carter handle the rest.

No. 12 Oklahoma at Alabama

We don’t know if future top-5 NBA Draft pick Collin Sexton is going to play, but if he does, what a battle it will be between him and Trae Young. There’ll be a lot of eyes on this game, from NBA scouts to the individuals that make up the Selection Committee, so the Big 12 could really use a win in Tuscaloosa.

Texas A&M at No. 5 Kansas

The Aggies have underachieved this year, but remain a legitimate threat to a similarly disappointing Jayhaws squad. Kansas can not let its reputation slip any further, because not only will it hurt the Big 12 in the long run, the Texas Tech win over Bill Self’s group will only look that much less impressive.

No. 14 Texas Tech at South Carolina

South Carolina is extremely well coached under Frank Martin and will be tough to beat in Columbia. That said, talent-wise, Tech has played a better team than South Carolina in each of its last eight games. The Red Raiders were ranked as high as No. 8 this season, and they need to validate that by beating a middle of the road SEC team away from home.

Poll

How many games will the Big 12 win in the challenge?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Sweep!
    (40 votes)
  • 12%
    9
    (28 votes)
  • 22%
    8
    (53 votes)
  • 33%
    7
    (77 votes)
  • 11%
    6
    (26 votes)
  • 3%
    5 or fewer
    (7 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now