Here we go – college basketball season has finally tipped off with the All-Military Classic in Lexington, Virginia this afternoon. Nine Big 12 teams will be in action tonight.
The Clones Confidential crew: Brian Spaen, Brad LaFrette, and Brian Voss, have all given their take on the games tonight. Check here for the Big 12 schedule, featuring tip-off times and TV assignments for each game.
Rankings reflect latest Associated Press standings.
LaFrette’s take on the weekend: I really don’t see the Big 12 having much trouble this week with this slate of games. The best game on the schedule this week is the game in Dallas between former Big 12 member Colorado and 25th-ranked Baylor. Alabama and Oklahoma should also be very competitive as well. After week one, the Big 12 will be 10-0.
Alabama vs Oklahoma (at Dallas, TX)
Voss: Lon Kruger’s club lost a strong group of seniors last year, and the youth is unpredictable. Alabama is coming off a season in which they made the NIT. Anthony Grant is in his 5th season as head coach in Tuscaloosa, and is due for a NCAA tournament run. Give my the Crimson Tide.
SMU vs TCU (at Dallas, TX)
Spaen: With the move to the AAC, Southern Methodist has high expectations under Larry Brown who are returning all five starters and feature a top-20 recruiting class. Banged up with injuries before the season began, Kyan Anderson won’t be enough to overcome a team they lost to last season. SMU wins by double digits.
Mississippi Valley State at (8)Oklahoma State
Voss: Last year the Delta Devils were 5-23. Oklahoma State has some of the best returning talent in the Big 12 and could be prepping for a big NCAA tournament run. I’ll take the Cowboys by at least 30.
UL-Monroe at (5)Kansas
Voss: UL- Monroe head coach Keith Richard is in his 4th year coaching the Warhawks, and has a record of 14-73 since taking over, including 4-23 last season. Kansas is playing at home where they rarely loss. I’ll take Kansas by about 40 in this one.
Mercer at Texas
Spaen: Five big contributors, including Myck Kabongo and Ioannis Papapetrou, are off of the Longhorns and they continue to field a very young team. The Bears have point guard Langston Hall (averaged 11.3 points and 5 assists) and center Daniel Coursey (133 career blocks), who were named in the preseason Atlantic Sun All-Conference team. This could easily be an upset, but I expect Texas to take a small, low-scoring victory.
Mount St. Mary’s at West Virginia
Spaen: There’s potential for the Mountaineers to have a rebound season in the Big 12, but they’ll face a fair test against a team that’s been to the NEC championship game in three of the last six years. A matchup to watch is WVU’s JUCO transfers in the frontcourt against Sam Prescott, who was the Mt. St. Mary’s leading returning rebounder. If the Mountaineers can keep Prescott’s production off the boards, they’ll have a chance.
Houston Baptist at Texas Tech
Spaen: The Red Raiders may not want to completely overlook the Huskies. In their toughest stretch last season, Houston Baptist got blown out by Oregon but was competitive against LSU on the road. They’ll need to be competitive on the boards to pull of an upset, but I don’t think that will happen with Texas Tech’s underrated frontcourt.
Northern Colorado at Kansas State
Voss: Some key departures will hurt the Wildcats this season, but not enough to cause them to lose to the Northern Colorado Bears. I’ll take Kansas State in a blowout.
Colorado vs (25)Baylor (at Dallas, TX)
Voss: Both these teams return a lot of talent and both are coming off of decent seasons. Colorado made the NCAA tournament, Baylor underachieved and won the NIT. Baylor is talented, but Scott Drew is Scott Drew, and Baylor is Baylor. Give me the Buffaloes in a close game.