During football season BON offered a "Road to Glendale" post each Monday which detailed the most likely teams to play for the national championship based on their standings in the polls and in the BCS. Thankfully, college basketball has a post-season tournament to determine its champion. Instead of focusing on the national title, which will be decided by the NCAA tournament, let's follow who is on track for the Big 12 regular season title. Texas and Kansas shared the title last year at 13-3, yet the Horns beat the Jayhawks in their only meeting.
Ten of the twelve teams have begun conference play. So far, there haven't been any major surprises. Texas Tech took care of OU at home, A&M survived a scare but prevailed over Kansas State, Texas earned its first victory on the road, and Oklahoma State outlasted a solid effort by the Baylor Bears to remain undefeated as well. The only small surprise came in Columbia where Iowa State notched a road victory over Missouri.
Kansas has to be considered the favorite in the Big 12 based on their talent and their schedule. Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Texas all stand just a rung below the Jayhawks. Other teams likely to make NCAA tournament pushes include Kansas State, Texas Tech, and maybe Missouri. Baylor, Nebraska, Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Colorado all seem destined for finishes in the bottom half of the conference.
Let's take a look at the Big 12 Games of the Week:
Texas Tech (12-4, 1-0) at Kansas State (10-5, 0-1) 9 PM ESPN
If the National Championship turns boring, flip over to this one. It will be the first look for most people of Bob Huggins' club and potentially the first look at freshman Bill Walker (he left the A&M game with an undisclosed injury). Walker joined the Wildcats following the first semester after the state of Ohio determined he had exhausted his high school eligibility. With Walker, Kansas State could make the NCAA tournament this season. This is one of those games the committee will look back to if both teams are on the bubble in March.
Oklahoma State (15-1, 1-0) at Kansas (13-2, 0-0) 8 PM ESPN2
This game offers your only excuse from not heading to the Erwin Center for the Horns' game. Kansas opens conference play against maybe the second best team in the league. Oklahoma State did not look sharp in their conference opener and will need a much better effort on defense if they want to walk out of Allen Fieldhouse with a victory.
Oklahoma (8-5, 0-1) at Texas (11-3, 1-0) 2:30 PM ABC
This will be our first look at Jeff Capel in crimson and cream. Kelvin Samson's seems to have left a sinking ship. The Sooners have already dropped five games including their Big 12 opener in Lubbock. Damion James will also get a chance to suit up against the team with which he originally signed. Texas will hopefully be looking to start Big 12 play at 3-0.