Thirteen up and thirteen down – all wins – in the opening week of the Big 12 men’s basketball season. Eleven conference teams opened their seasons with home-openers this past week, and two teams, Texas and Iowa State, already have posted two wins.
The Missouri Tigers, ranked 19th nationally by foamcage.com (15th by AP and ESPN/USA Today) and the only Big 12 team yet to play a regular-season game, officially open their season on Thursday night at Mizzou Arena against Western Illinois.
As to be expected in the season-opening games, most of the winning margins were somewhat on the blowout side, reflecting the wide differences in the level of competition. Defending conference champion Kansas not only reached the century mark in its home opener with Longwood University at Allen Fieldhouse, but with 13 points to spare, rolling up a 38-point victory, 113-75. Colorado had the closest margin of victory with an eight-point win over Idaho State.
Things really start to heat up this week, with everybody in action and several teams more than once. Twenty-six games are scheduled involving Big 12 schools over the next seven days. Three teams are participating in tournaments, with the opening rounds being played at Big 12 venues (Missouri in the Cancun Challenge; Kansas State in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic; Kansas in the Las Vegas Invitational tourney).
Nebraska heads to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and later in the week, Texas will be at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the semifinal and final round of the 2K Sports Classic.
The featured game of the week will take place Tuesday night in Manhattan, Kan., where third-ranked Kansas State will host another nationally ranked team, No. 23 Virginia Tech (view College Basketball Examiner Shawn Lealos’ preview of this game), in the Wildcats’ first major test of the season. This game will feature two of the best college guards in the country in K-State’s Jacob Pullen and Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney, both preseason All-Americans.
The K-State Virginia Tech game is one of 12 games to be broadcast live by ESPN as part of a 24-hour college basketball broadcast marathon that begins tonight after “Monday Night Football.” Former Kansas State head basketball coach Tex Winter will be honored at halftime. Winter coached the Wildcats from 1953-68, during which time K-State won 261 games and eight Big Seven/Big Eight titles. On Sunday, Winter will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Three Big 12 basketball student-athletes on watch list for national award
In other Big 12 basketball news, three top student-athletes from the conference – Tyrel Reed of Kansas, Gary Johnson of Texas and Jacob Pullen from Kansas State – have been named candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
To be considered for the award, a player must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and character. The term CLASS in the award description stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.
The three CLASS Award candidates representing the Big 12 are among 30 candidates in men’s basketball programs from across the country. The 30 candidates will be narrowed down to 10 finalists midway through this college basketball season, and those names will appear on the official ballot. A panel of nationwide voters composed of media, coaches and fans will select the winner, who will be announced at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston.
Hardwood Series between the Big 12 and Pac-10 to conclude after this season
The Hardwood Series pitting Big 12 men’s basketball teams against teams from the Pac-10 will conclude after this season. The basketball challenge series between the two major conferences is now in its fourth year.
Over the three years of series, the Big 12 has a 20-16 advantage. Last season, the Big 12 won 9 of the 12 games, and in both the regular season and postseason games against Pac-10 teams a year ago, the Big 12 posted a 13-4 record.
2010 Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series schedule
Saturday, November 27
USC at Nebraska
Thursday, December 2
Missouri at Oregon
UCLA at Kansas
Arizona State at Baylor
Friday, December 3
Kansas State at Washington State
Saturday, December 4
Oregon State at Colorado
California at Iowa State
Texas Tech at Washington
Sunday, December 5
Texas at USC
Oklahoma at Arizona
Saturday, December 11
Washington at Texas A&M
Tuesday, December 21
Stanford at Oklahoma State
For more information:
Big 12 Conference official website
More Big 12 sports news and commentary
National college basketball news
foamcage.com college basketball rankings
AP and ESPN/USA Today college men’s basketball polls