COLUMBIA, MO - JANUARY 03: The Missouri Tigers exit the locker room prior to the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on January 3, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
This weekend marks the first Saturday with a full Big 12 basketball slate and the end of the first week of conference play. Conference play kicked off last Monday with Baylor's win over Texas A&M and the week was highlighted by the fairly easy Kansas win over in state rival Kansas State. Now everybody has played at one game and Saturday everyone get's a chance at number two.
#6 Missouri @ #22 Kansas State 12:30PM CST (ESPN3)
This one has to be the game of the weekend as the undefeated Missouri Tigers head to Manhattan to take on a Kansas State team that might have had some of their confidence rattled in big loss to Kansas. At the same time, the pressure is off for Frank Martin's team and Missouri will be tested.
For the Tigers part they have been impressive. Frank Haith has taken Mike Anderson's players and at least early on it appears that he has turned a corner that Anderson couldn't a year ago. How they respond now that the schedule becomes more difficult will be a test, but one that they are certainly capable of passing.
This one has a lot of interesting matchup dynamics and it feels like we could be in for some good basketball. By good I mean close. Kansas State's style doesn't necessarily pretty basketball but that's ok if it's winning games. Manhattan should be fired up for this one, at least I would hope they can get fired up for a #6 ranked team not named Kansas.
Also, why is this not televised?
#15 Kansas @ Oklahoma - 1:00PM CST(ESPNU)
The Jayhawks need to avoid the letdown. Wednesday night wasn't pretty all the time but the team did have a lot of energy and that translated into a solid rebounding and defensive effort. Bill Self needs to find a way to get his team to replicate that.
Earlier this week Missouri took Oklahoma to the woodshed and in general this is a Sooner team that has a long way to go in Lon Krueger's first season. At the same time it's a road game, it's a conference game and every one of these that you can win is one step closer to a Big 12 title and that is what Bill Self will be stressing to his team.
Iowa State @ Texas A&M - 3PM CST(ESPN3)
Fred Hoiberg has the Cyclones playing well and they are coming off a nice early conference win over Texas. Minnesota transfer Royce White is the clear leader of the Cyclones. The sophomore forward leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists and don't forget fellow ALL TRANSFER team members Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson. Christopherson of course had a nice season a year ago for the Cyclones but now he has some support and Fred Hoiberg might just move the needle in Ames.
A&M was picked to contend for the league title early in the year but a 9-4 record is a bit disappointing. To their credit three of those losses have come to ranked opponents and in two of those games they kept it fairly close. It's obviously very early but A&M needs to get a win at home here if they want to continue to feel like they are a top tier team in the Big 12, something that not many people are still believing at the moment.
#5 Baylor @ Texas Tech - 12:45PM(ESPN3)
Baylor's early season success is well documented. They are extremely long, extremely athletic and talented enough that they just might be able to overcome Scott Drew's coaching. I guess it is probably all going to come down to whether or not he let's his team watch the opposing intro videos or not.
As for Texas Tech, they've got a new man in charge and he's done it before in the conference. But Billy Gillespie has his work cut out for him this year. My feeling is that the Red Raiders are going to battle Oklahoma for the bottom of the league so I don't expect this one to be much of a game.
Oklahoma State @ Texas - 6PM CST(LHN)
Oklahoma State has tested themselves against some good teams early this season. They just haven't won any of those games. Losses to Stanford, VaTech(2), Pitt, New Mexico and Alabama are all respectable from an opponent perspective, but isn't beating anyone. They did grab a conference victory over Texas Tech this week, but that doesn't seem like a huge launching point by any means. A road game against Texas could help but they'll need to do what they haven't done to date.
For Texas it's another year with a lot of talent and a bit of uncertainty at the moment. Rick Barnes brings in the players on a pretty consistent basis, but that doesn't always translate for Texas. An early road loss in Ames stings a bit and after the home game against the Cowboys they play rival Texas A&M followed by the I-70 trio. That makes this one an important game in terms of gaining some early footing.