SEC/Big 12 Challenge preview: Which conference will reign supreme?
The SEC/Big 12 Obstacle is perfectly timed. The other leagues must bear in mind– particularly the SEC/ACC Difficulty, which ESPN announced is set to take its place next season. This mid-January series effects NCAA competition résumés. It is a possibility to play significant matchups in the middle of conference action. It has actually showcased some of males’s college basketball’s most gifted players. That’s a lovely thing.The last edition of the SEC/Big 12 Obstacle on Saturday similarly assures to be filled with stars and storylines. Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes and Kansas State star Keyontae Johnson will both face their previous groups. John Calipari modified his beginning lineup and now has his Kentucky squad on a four-game winning streak– the very same group whose fans were ready to fire him a few weeks ago. If the Wildcats beat Kansas on Saturday( 8 p.m. ET, ESPN), they may offer him a second life time agreement. Kansas, on the other hand, wants to end a three-game losing streak and maybe get a bit of revenge for last season’s loss.Elsewhere, a house win over Iowa State would help a Missouri team that’s holding on to a top-50 web ranking. Alabama hasn’t lost because Dec. 17, and a match against Oklahoma in Norman most likely will not end that streak. Arkansas vs. Baylor will include several predicted first-round picks in this summertime’s NBA draft.Ahead of the weekend’s action, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, Joe Lunardi and Myron Medcalf break down the greatest games and storylines.Two weeks back, Kansas was a No. 1 seed, while John Calipari remained in the coaching hot spot for Kentucky’s less-than-stellar start to the season. Now, the Jayhawks are off the leading line with 3 straight losses, while the Wildcats are on the bubble with a four-game winning streak. What are you getting out of both groups when they meet on Saturday?Editor’s Picks 2 Related Borzello: When Kansas was humming offensively for the first two months of the season, it was its smaller lineup triggering suitable for challengers
, spreading the floor,
winning the turnover fight. That hasn’t taken place during this losing streak. The Jayhawks are shooting 26 %from 3 throughout that stretch, while turning it over 32 times in the past 2 games. Throw in Jalen Wilson not getting enough help offensively and a defense that has actually fallen off drastically in the previous number of games, and Kansas needs to right the ship at both ends of the flooring. Kentucky has actually likewise gone smaller sized throughout its winning streak, improving spacing and enabling Oscar Tshiebwe more room to operate inside. Which group triumphes on Saturday? I think Kansas can’t shoot this inadequately permanently and gets back on the right track.Predicted rating: Kansas 72, Kentucky 70 Gasaway: Considering that Kentucky’s victory at Tennessee, the Wildcats have won three games they’re”supposed”to win, which is a necessary skill. UK’s defense has enhanced significantly and Tshiebwe has 67 rebounds throughout the 4 wins. Kentucky might be
back. Good idea for KU that the Wildcats don’t force lots of turnovers. I expect Gradey Dick to shake off a boundary cold spell(5 of his last 21 )in a game that goes down to the wire.Predicted score: Kansas 74, Kentucky 71 play 0:23 Jalen Wilson’s slick pass sets up Gradey Penis for a jam Jalen Wilson drops a great backdoor pass and Gradey Dick knocks it home.Lunardi: Could this be the reverse of last season, when Kentucky waltzed into Allen
Field Home and blitzed the future national champions?Kansas is the
better team, I think, and needs to be smarting a bit heading to Rupp Arena
. I doubt this will be a blowout in either direction, as both groups truly require a win( albeit for different reasons ). But I like the Jayhawks in a close one on the road.Predicted score: Kansas 78, Kentucky 74 Medcalf: Expense Self’s three-game losing streak states a lot about the strength of the Huge 12– the Jayhawks lost to three top-30 KenPom groups– however it doesn’t change my view of Kansas as a competitor. Now, Saturday may do that. However Self has actually constantly been strong in tight games.
His group is 4-1 this season in games decided by three points or less, and was 6-2 last season in the very same scenario, consisting of the national title game. However this is a hot Kentucky team. The starting lineup of Chris Livingston, Cason Wallace, CJ Fredrick, Jacob Toppin and Tshiebwe has actually held challengers to just 85 points per 100 belongings and snatched 42 %of its missed shots during this four-game run, per hooplens.com.Predicted rating: Kentucky 74, Kansas 72 Which other Saturday game intrigues you, and why?Lunardi: Alabama at Oklahoma(2 p.m. ET, ESPN ). I am captivated by the possibility of a freshman leading the Crimson Tide to a championship game in a sport other than football. Alabama has basically met every obstacle to date, particularly on the road, and this might be a trap versus a desperate bubble team like Oklahoma. If the Sooners are going to make the NCAA competition, they need a game like this to go their way.Gasaway: Florida at
Kansas State(6 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Keyontae Johnson faces his previous team. The Gators have dropped 3 heartbreakers in SEC play, however Todd Golden’s group chases after opponents off the 3-point line and plays exceptional D inside the arc.(Well, except for the defensive rebounding.)If the Wildcats are lured to look previous UF in anticipation of Tuesday’s see to Kansas, the house group might be in for a rude surprise. play 0:19 Keyontae Johnson dances after layup Keyontae Johnson displays his relocations after driving to the hoop for a layup.Medcalf: At this moment, they should call every Texas-Tennessee game the Rick Barnes Celebration. Barnes remains in a top-10 matchup with the team he once coached in Austin (6 p.m. ET, ESPN )and the team he now leads in Knoxville. Santiago Vescovi (12.2 PPG, 3.2 APG) is back and healthy after suffering a shoulderinjury and missing out on time following the Kentucky loss. However a matchup
versus a Texas team with legit Final 4 capacity will be different from the Mississippi State-LSU-Georgia run of the Vols’three-game winning streak. The development of Dylan Disu– 11.6 PPG over the past three games– is among the reasons Texas is 10-2 in the post-Chris Beard period. Rodney Terry has done a terrific job as acting head coach.Borzello: Arkansas at Baylor( 4 p.m. ET, ESPN ). It’s a rematch of a 2021 Elite 8 game, in between two groups that have picked up some consistency after early speed bumps in conference play this season. Baylor has rattled off 5 wins in a row because starting 0-3, while Arkansas has actually won 2 in a row following a four-game losing streak. Can Eric Musselman’s group get a roadway win? The Razorbacks have not won an away game yet in 2022-23. I don’t believe it begins Saturday, however the border fight with Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer and Keyonte George vs. Anthony
Black, Davonte Davis and Ricky Council IV is wildly intriguing.Alabama and Tennessee are both No. 1 seeds in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, amongst the AP leading five and top three in the BPI and NET rankings. Which one is your choice for a Last Four look this season?Gasaway: We have to pick one? Ouch. Fine, I’ll take the Vols. Zakai Zeigler has recorded 21 helps and 9 takes to go along with nine threes in 3 games since reentering the beginning lineup. Plus Tennessee’s a smidge older (weighted by minutes )than the Tide. If we’ve learned one thing from the previous two nationwide champs, it’s that it can pay to be ancient.Medcalf: On Jan. 14, 11 ranked teams lost for the very first time since 2011, the same year Kemba Walker guided UConn to the championship game. I don’t think college basketball has a great group this year, so I expect the NCAA competition to be chosen by star power more than balance. And if that’s the case, I’ll go with Alabama, due to the fact that I believe Brandon Miller(19.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 45 %from 3)might carry the Crimson Tide to a Last Four. Alabama ain’t a Cinderella, however I do not think the Tide will get in lots of games without the best player on the floor. play 0:22 Brandon Miller does not let a protector obstruct of this dunk Brandon Miller’s defender is no issue as he leaps for a one-handed jam for Alabama.Lunardi: Offer me Alabama, as the Crimson Tide have the kind of balance on both sides of the ball that tends to play well in March(and April!). Tennessee’s defense might wear the Tide down in a best-of-seven series, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Alabama is going to have the best player on the floor in nearly every postseason game, and you ‘d marvel(not!) how frequently that makes the difference.Borzello: In spite of looking less than remarkable versus Mississippi State on Wednesday, I’ll take Alabama. I enjoy the makeup of this team.
the win over the Bulldogs was the Tide’s first victory by single digits considering that Dec. 13. They’ve been dominating groups. Brandon Miller is the very best freshman in the nation, and schoolmate Noah Clowney has actually been a surprise up front(although he’s 0-for-16 from 3 in his previous 4 games). Mark Sears, Jahvon Quinerly and Jaden Bradley are all dynamic guards, and Charles Bediako is a shot-blocker up front. On top of all the offensive firepower, they’re a top-five defense nationally. I’m all-in. What’s your final tally for the two conferences?Gasaway: One wrinkle in the 2023 Difficulty: Texas A&M isn’t playing, and the Aggies simply may
turn out to be the SEC’s third-best team. Conversely, the SEC has some teams that are having a hard time at the moment that are taking part. That need to offer the Huge 12 an edge. Final tally, a definitive 7-3 in favor of the Huge 12. Medcalf: Yeah, John makes a fantastic point. If I’m Greg Sankey, I make the call and I switch Mississippi State for Texas A&M in that matchup versus TCU. That would’ve been a more interesting game and may have provided the SEC the edge. But I’ll take the Huge 12 with a 6-4 win.Borzello: I might go as far as stating the Huge 12 wins by an 8-2 margin if things fall a particular method. Alabama and Tennessee must win their games, Kansas-Kentucky is a tossup, but the league may have the edge in the other 7 games.Lunardi: Appears
to me the Big 12 has home court in more of the 50/50 games, so I’ll
take the Big 12 by a 6-4 margin(and 7-3 if Kansas wins at Kentucky).