Reviewing the Big 12’s Top 10 Non-Conference Matchups

Posted by Chris Stone on November 8th, 2016

Once again it looks like the Big 12 regular season title will remain in Kansas. Bill Self’s team enters this season as the prohibitive favorite to win a 13th straight championship, but the good news is that there is plenty of great non-conference basketball to sustain us until conference teams take turns trying to knock the Jayhawks from their perch. Most Big 12 teams will play tough November and December schedules featuring several preseason top 10 teams and tough mid-majors. Notably excluded from this list are games from January’s Big 12/SEC Challenge, but here’s a look at the league’s best 10 non-conference games through the first two months of the season.

Kansas is poised to win another Big 12 title, but the non-conference games come first. (USA Today Images)

Kansas is poised to win another Big 12 title, but the non-conference games come first. (USA Today Images)

  • 10. Oklahoma State vs. Connecticut, Monday November 21 – This is an opening round game at the Maui Invitational, and while the Cowboys may struggle to beat a ranked Connecticut team on the Valley Isle, the individual match-up between point guards Jawun Evans and Jalen Adams makes this must-see TV.
  • 9. Texas at Michigan, Tuesday December 6 – John Beilein’s Michigan teams play a beautiful brand of offensive basketball that the Longhorns will look to muck up by increasing tempo and using their athleticism to outrun the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
  • 8. Oklahoma at Wisconsin, Saturday December 3 – The Badgers open the season as the Big Ten favorite so Oklahoma will have its hands full in Madison. Guard Jordan Woodard will need to deliver a Buddy Hield-esque performance for the Sooners to come away with an upset in this one.

  • 7. Oklahoma State at Wichita State, Saturday December 17 – Neither the Cowboys nor the Shockers will open the season in the Top 25 but there’s something intriguing about seeing Evans go head-to-head with former Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp.
  • 6. Cincinnati at Iowa State, Thursday December 1 – The Bearcats didn’t quite make their way into the preseason Top 25 but that shouldn’t take any of the shine off this early December match-up at Hilton Coliseum. Monte’ Morris versus Troy Caupain will be a battle of two guards who could come up big for their respective teams in March.
With a revamped press philosophy, Bob Huggins and West Virginia are climbing their way up the college basketball mountain. (USA TODAY Sports)

Plenty of premier matchups coming up, including an intriguing West Virginia vs. Virginia tilt. (USA TODAY Sports)

  • 5. Xavier at Baylor, Saturday December 3 – Before the Bears face Xavier, they’ll already have had one battle against a preseason top 10 team under their belt (see #3 below). How well Baylor can replace point guard Lester Medford will be the thing to watch here as the Musketeers’ Edmond Sumner is one of the top lead guards in America.
  • 4. West Virginia at Virginia, Saturday December 3 – Last year’s neutral court match-up resulted in the Mountaineers falling by 16 points, but this time around Virginia will be without All-American guard Malcolm Brogdon. Bob Huggins’ group will have a real chance to prove itself in Charlottesville after losing a number of its key players too.
  • 3. Oregon at Baylor, Tuesday November 15 – With Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince no longer around, Baylor will have a 24 Hours of Hoops opportunity to show the country who they are in this home match-up with Oregon. The Ducks will likely be without star forward Dillon Brooks for this game, which makes Baylor’s chance of pulling off the upset even greater.
  • 2. Kansas vs. Indiana, Friday November 11 – As much as this is a battle between two teams ranked among the top 15 of the preseason AP Poll, it’s also a match-up highlighted by a premium individual battle. The Jayhawks’ Josh Jackson and Indiana’s OG Anunoby are considered top prospects in the NBA Draft community and they’ll go head-to-head on opening night as part of the Armed Forces Classic in Hawaii.
  • 1. Kansas vs. Duke, Tuesday November 15 – Assuming that the Jayhawks take care of Indiana on Veterans Day, their subsequent match-up against Duke at the Champions Classic will be a battle of top five teams that features plenty of experience as well as highly-ranked freshmen. Although the Blue Devils will likely be without Harry Giles in this game, it could be a preview of another match-up deep into next March.
Chris Stone (136 Posts)

Chris Stone is a contributor to the Big 12 microsite. You can find him on Twitter @cstonehoops.

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