Top 5 Big 12 Matchups For 2015-16

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 21st, 2015

While we’re getting closer to the start of the season, Opening Night is still about three months away. That’s a long way out. On Thursday, however, we were given a taste of what the 2015-16 season will offer as the Big 12 released its conference schedule. As we’ve already touched on several times, the Big 12 won’t be stocked with the same caliber of one-and-done talent that we’ve seen in recent years, but it should make up for that shortfall with a boatload of experienced and productive upperclassmen, so on pretty much any given night, you’ll be able to tune in and see established college stars doing their thing. Add that to the heated rivalries and the infusion of coaching brought on by the additions of Steve Prohm and Shaka Smart and it’s easy to see that we’ll be in for another thrilling season. Here are the top five battles worth circling on the calendar for 2016.

After coming just short of unseating Kansas in 2015, Iowa State will take another crack at the Jayhawks in 2016. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The 2016 Big 12 slate is headlined by the next chapter in the fierce rivalry between Kansas and Iowa State.                        (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  1. Iowa State at Kansas (March 5): The games at Hilton Coliseum between these teams always seem to be the most heated tilts, but that may not be the case this time around. While it remains silly to bet against Kansas winning the Big 12 until someone snaps their impressive streak of conference titles, this season’s crown could hinge on the season’s final day (and Perry Ellis’ Senior Day). The backcourt duel between Frank Mason and MonteMorris should be just as entertaining as the one between Ellis and Georges Niang, and the Jayhawks will likely be relieved to be back at Allen Fieldhouse after playing three of their previous four games on the road.
  2. Kansas at Iowa State (January 25): If you didn’t think the two matchups between Kansas and Iowa State would lead this piece, then you haven’t been paying attention to the Big 12 over the last few years. A disparity between the Jayhawks’ and Cyclones’ schedules heading into this Big Monday game should give Iowa State an edge on top of the sizable advantage that comes with playing their home games at Hilton Coliseum; Steve Prohm’s team will have just faced a TCU team expected to be worse than last year’s mediocre squad, while the Jayhawks will be fresh off their first meeting against Shaka Smart since VCU stunned the Jayhawks in the 2011 Elite Eight.

    What does 2015 Big 12 POY Buddy Hield have in store for an encore? (Getty Images/Ethan Miller)

    What does reigning Big 12 POY Buddy Hield have in store for an encore? (Getty Images/Ethan Miller)

  3. Texas at Kansas (January 23): By this point in the season, we should have an idea of how Shaka Smart has fared in applying his intense philosophy to the Longhorns’ talented squad. Texas hasn’t won at Allen Fieldhouse since 2011, and if they aren’t as far along as Smart would like, that won’t be likely to change. Potentially compounding matters is the fact that Texas will enter this game having just played at West Virginia, another tough road environment, three days prior.
  4. Oklahoma at Iowa State (January 18): Another Big Monday showdown will revisit the site of last year’s wildest game, when Iowa State erased a 21-point hole on their way to a 59-point second half and a 93-84 victory over the Sooners. Player Of The Year Buddy Hield scored 26 points and added five rebounds while Niang posted 23 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists for the ‘Clones. Niang will be at home and will have more talent around him than Hield will, so expect Iowa State to have the edge, but you can anticipate both seniors putting up big numbers once again.
  5. Baylor at Texas (February 20) – The Big 12 schedule is a meat grinder every year, but Baylor’s conference slate looks especially back-loaded this season. The Bears’ road tilt against Texas comes sandwiched between home meetings against Iowa State and Kansas, so this will be a great opportunity to see how Baylor’s experienced core of Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince and Lester Medford have answered the bell. Scott Drew’s top freshman, King McClure, could be an X-factor in this one.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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