Campus Corner

Ranking the SEC/Big 12 Challenge games by watchability


Jesse Newell and Gary Bedore preview Kansas-Kentucky game

Kansas City Star sports writers Jesse Newell and Gary Bedore previewed Saturday's matchup between Kansas and Kentucky during a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.
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Kansas City Star sports writers Jesse Newell and Gary Bedore previewed Saturday's matchup between Kansas and Kentucky during a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

The Big 12 loves a challenge, or at least plays like it does.

The SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday has Kansas at Kentucky as the marquee matchup, but there also some nice undercards.

The historical trend favors the Big 12. This is the fourth series between the leagues and the Big 12 has won the majority of games each year. The Big 12 finished 7-3 twice and 6-4 once.

The Big 12 was first a challenge series opponent for the Pac-12. The leagues tangled from 2007 until the final year of the 12-team conference in 2010-11, and the Big 12 won the series twice and tied once.

Here is Saturday’s SEC-Big 12 lineup, ranked in order of neutral fan entertainment, and predicted winner for each game.

1. No. 2 Kansas at No. 5 Kentucky

Records (Ken Pom ranking): Kansas 18-2 (9); Kentucky 17-3 (2)

Time/TV: 5:15 p.m. on ESPN

The blue bloods delivered a classic last season in Lawrence. Great backcourt duel between Kansas’ Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham and Kentucky’s Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox.

Pick: Kentucky

2. Arkansas at Oklahoma State

Records (Ken Pom ranking): Arkansas 16-4 (44); Oklahoma State 12-8 (27)

Time/TV: 3 p.m. on ESPNU

By RPI, a victory would be Razorbacks’ best of season, and Cowboys’ second best.

Pick: Oklahoma State

3. K-State at Tennessee

Records (Ken Pom rankings): Kansas State 15-5 (26); Tennessee 11-9 (42)

Time/TV: 1 p.m. on ESPN2

The Wildcats are in need of more quality victories. Are the Vols in for post-Kentucky victory hangover?

Pick: Tennessee

4. Texas A&M at No. 7 West Virginia

Records (Ken Pom rankings): Texas A&M 11-8 (62); West Virginia 16-4 (3)

Time/TV: 11 a.m. on ESPN

The day starts off nicely with this game. Aggies playing their best ball of season right now; Mountaineers soaring after KU victory and looking for first Big 12/SEC victory.

Pick: West Virginia

5. Iowa State at Vanderbilt

Records (Ken Pom rankings): Iowa State 13-6 (24); Vanderbilt 9-11 (63)

Time/TV: 3 p.m. on ESPN2

Last time out, Vandy blew 15-point lead and lost to Arkansas. Iowa State lost all of 20-point lead to Kansas State before holding on.

Pick: Iowa State

6. No. 6 Baylor at Ole Miss

Records (Ken Pom rankings): No. 6 Baylor 19-1 (7) at Mississippi 12-8 (98)

Time/TV: 5 p.m. on ESPN2

The Bears are the nation’s top RPI team, and they are 3-0 in SEC/Big 12 Challenges games. The Rebels have lost five of their last eight.

Pick: Baylor

7. No. 19 Florida at Oklahoma

Records (Ken Pom rankings): No. 19 Florida 15-5 (13) at Oklahoma 8-11 (64)

Time/TV: 1 p.m. at ESPN

Tim Tebow vs. Sam Bradford? The Lon Kruger Game? With South Carolina not playing, Florida is second-best SEC team in the Challenge. The Sooners are unbeaten in SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Pick: Florida

8. Auburn at TCU

Records (Ken Pom rankings): Auburn 13-7 (87) at TCU 14-6 (35)

Time/TV: 5 p.m. on ESPNU

Horned Frogs a surprising 3-0 Challenge and Auburn seeks its first victory in the Challenge. Tigers with a few days to stew over 29-point loss to South Carolina.

Pick: TCU

9. Texas at Georgia

Records (Ken Pom rankings): Texas 8-12 (71); Georgia 12-8 (52)

Time/TV: 3 p.m. on ESPN

Bulldogs’ Yante Maten is the top SEC player who doesn’t play for Kentucky. Texas freshman Jarrett Allen improving by game and on a double-double roll.

Pick: Georgia

10. LSU at Texas Tech

Records (Ken Pom rankings): LSU 9-10 (158); Texas Tech 14-6 (40)

Time/TV: 1 p.m. on ESPNU

The season is getting uglier for LSU, which has lost six straight and eight of nine (the one win was at Mizzou). Tech stood toe-to-toe with Baylor before falling earlier in the week.

Pick: Texas Tech

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff