I think all of us would agree if the Big 12 and SEC did this type of challenge in football, there would be endless amounts of hype behind it. But, this year both the SEC and Big 12 are extremely deep, making Saturday a great day to relax on the couch and enjoy some hoops.
Here are all 10 Big 12/SEC Challenge games ranked based on watchability:
1- Oklahoma at Alabama (2:15 ESPN)
Trae Young vs. Colin Sexton, a matchup we have been waiting for since the start of the season. Both freshman guards have been instrumental in their teams’ successes this season. Although our attention might be on Young and Sexton, don’t forget about fellow freshman Brady Manek of OU and John Petty of Alabama. Both players average double-digits in scoring with Petty at 11.9 ppg and Manek at 11.3 ppg. Should be a good one in Tuscaloosa.
2- Kentucky at West Virginia (7:00 ESPN)
The Wildcats head east to Morgantown to face Jevon Carter and Press Virginia. Will Kentucky’s young guards be able to handle the full-court pressure of WVU? We’ll see, but UK will also need strong play from PJ Washington and Nick Richards in the frontcourt. Coach Cal can put UK back in the rankings with a statement win Saturday night.
3- Texas A&M at Kansas (4:30 ESPN)
Billy Kennedy’s Aggie squad will head to the Phog desperate for a win when they face a KU team fresh off an 85-80 loss at Oklahoma on Tuesday. Kansas has lost 2 games at home this year to Arizona State and Texas Tech, and have also squeaked out close wins over Kansas State and Baylor. Although winning at the Phog is still hard to do, A&M has the talent to pull off the upset. The Aggies will need big games from Robert Williams and Tyler Davis to get the win, and forcing Jayhawk big man Udoka Azubuike to beat them at the line might be a good strategy for A&M (only half-joking.)
4- Texas Tech at South Carolina (12:00 ESPN2)
One of the more underrated games of the Big 12/SEC Challenge features Texas Tech traveling to Colombia to face an eager South Carolina squad. Fresh off a massive win on the road over Florida, Frank Martin’s team is gaining some momentum. After blowing an opportunity for a quality home win last Saturday against Tennessee, the Gamecocks need to win this one if they have any desire to return to the tournament.
5- Georgia at Kansas State (2:00 ESPNU)
Another underrated game in this challenge, as K-State tries to continue their recent success against another bubble team in Georgia. K-State will need Barry Brown and Dean Wade to continue their production while the Bulldogs will need a heavy dose of Yante Maten if they want to leave Manhattan with a quality win on their resume.
6- Baylor at Florida (12:00 ESPN)
The Big 12/SEC Challenge kicks off on ESPN with Baylor traveling to Gainsville to face a Florida team coming off a home loss vs. South Carolina. This game had much more hype preseason, but with the Bears unable to close out Big 12 games so far, the hype has diminished. Still, Florida will need to control Manu Lecomte as he can score in bunches and steal a win on the road. Florida’s offense has struggled of late, but Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen can light the Bears up from deep.
7-Oklahoma State at Arkansas (6:00 ESPN2)
This game will be a shootout, bet the over. Arkansas’s offensive efficiency ranks in the top 20 (according to kenpom), but their defensive efficiency ranks 112th. Arkansas seems to play every game close, and Bud Walton Arena will be rocking as the Razorbacks cannot afford to lose at home if they have aspirations for March. Oklahoma State had Texas Tech on the ropes Tuesday night, but fell apart in the last few minutes and are in need of a bounce-back win.
8- Tennessee at Iowa State (4:00 ESPNU)
This ranking may be too low, but credit to both the Big 12 and SEC for being so deep, making this challenge tough to rank. Although Iowa State is down this year, winning in Hilton is very tough, (just ask Texas Tech) and Tennesee should not take Steve Prohm’s team lightly. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield will be mismatches in this one, but Lindell Wigginton can easily go off and give the Cyclones the home upset.
9- TCU at Vanderbilt (4:00 ESPN2)
TCU is coming off a big home win over West Virginia, but cannot collapse on the road in Nashville. Scott Drew’s team suffered a big loss this week when it was announced that guard Matthew Fisher-Davis is out for the season with a shoulder injury and the Commodores will need a lot of Riley LaChance if they want to upset TCU.
10- Ole Miss at Texas (2:00 ESPN2)
There is only one reason to watch this game and that reason is Mo Bamba. Shaka Smart’s team has a ton of talent, but the Ole Miss matchup just isn’t very appealing (sorry Rebel fans, on the bright side baseball season is only 21 days away.)
With both conferences being so deep this year, many quality resume wins will be up for grabs, making Saturday a great day for college hoops.