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Big 12 Games of the Week: Jan. 29 - Feb. 3

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After just three weeks of conference play, there is already significant separation in the league standings. The top six teams are likely playing for five NCAA tournament berths. Kansas and A&M are locks for the tournament and Oklahoma State and Texas should easily earn berths as well, barring unforeseen collapses. The last spot will likely come down to Kansas State and Texas Tech. The next level is occupied by two rapidly improving teams, Missouri and Oklahoma. The bottom four teams include three from the Big 12 North (Nebraska, Iowa State, and Colorado), further emphasizing the tremendous schedule advantage the Jayhawks will enjoy this year over the Horns, the Aggies, and the Cowboys.

Kansas, A&M, and Texas remain tied for first place at 5-1. Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Texas Tech are all just a game out at 4-2.

Let's take a look at the Big 12 Games of the Week:

Monday
#6 Kansas (18-3, 5-1) at Nebraska (12-7, 1-4) 8 PM ESPN
On the surface, this looks like a tremendous mismatch, but the home court is such an advantage in college basketball. Also, as solid as Kansas is, they are just 3-2 in road games this season. If Aleks Maric is able to get Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, and Sasha Kaun in foul trouble, then the Huskers have a shot. That is a tall task. Kansas likely survives and sets up a great game on Saturday night.

Wednesday
#23 Texas (15-5, 5-1) at Texas Tech (15-6, 4-2) 8 PM ESPN2
The Horns face only their first second real road opponent in conference play (sorry, Colorado and Nebraska are horrible). Texas has struggled on defense all year, and Texas Tech runs one of the most efficient half court offenses in the country. Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno provide a formidable and experienced one-two punch at guard. The Red Raiders have already knocked off Kansas and A&M at home. If Tech gets anything out of their big men or Kevin Durant gets into foul trouble, a third contender will go down as well.

Saturday
#8 Texas A&M (17-3, 5-1) at #6 Kansas (18-3, 5-1) 8 PM ESPN
The Aggies host Iowa State earlier in the week, so it's likely both team will enter this one tied for first place at 6-1. The Jayhawks are an impressive 12-1 at home this season, while the Aggies are just 3-3 on the road. This will be ESPN's marquee Saturday night matchup and a great showcase game for the two best teams in the conference (at this point in the season). It will also be a contrast in styles. Kansas loves to play fast and is most effective when they can quickly turn solid defense into easy offense. A&M, on the other hand, loves to play half court basketball. Billy Gillespie would like nothing more than for only his team to reach 50 points. Whoever controls the tempo wins this one. In front of the crazies at Allen Fieldhouse, I'll take KU.

--AW--