Two of the hottest teams in the Big 12 are set to face off on Saturday. Kansas has won seven straight Games and has the look of a No. 1 seed, while Texas, a team that had 16 wins all of last year, sits at 16-4 and could get a rather nice seed if it can continue its solid play.
The Jayhawks have taken the best of the Big 12 and dealt with them surprisingly well considering their Four non-Conference losses. After beating Oklahoma and Iowa State on the road early in the month, they have taken down Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State again all at home. Now it’s time for a couple more road Games, with this one being the most intriguing.
No one thought much of this Texas team going into the season, but that isn’t the case now with five straight wins. The Longhorns have wins over Iowa State and Kansas State at home and are coming off a big road win at Baylor last weekend. A win here could put them in a real position to take down Kansas from the Big 12 pedestal. Obviously, it’s going to take a lot of work.
Texas is actually one of the few teams in the Conference that can deal with the size of Kansas down low. The combo of Perry Ellis (13.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG) and Joel Embiid (11.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG) has wreaked havoc on opponents with regularity because most teams don’t have the power to deal with the two of them. Embiid is still learning as well, and not many in the nation can handle him 1-on-1. Texas will throw its two big men into the mix, and while the height isn’t there, they have the size. Jonathan Holmes (12.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG) and Cameron Ridley (11.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG) have been huge for the Longhorns in their five-Game win streak. Not only have they been dominating the boards, but it’s not the easiest thing stopping these two from scoring either.
Obviously, Kansas poses more than just those two threats in the frontcOurt, as Andrew Wiggins is not someone to forget about. The 6-8 forward leads the team in scoring (16.5 PPG) and is coming off a 26-point Game against Iowa State. Like most teams, Texas doesn’t really have a great matchup for Wiggins. At 6-2, Demarcus Holland is the likeliest to draw that task and it likely won’t end well.
But then of course, we can’t forget about the Longhorns’ guards in Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix. Those two need to step up against KU’s main weakness. Guards Wayne Selden Jr. and Naadir Tharpe aren’t terrible players, but they are a step below the rest of the Jayhawks roster. Both are inconsistent and aren’t really a given each night. Felix (12.2 PPG) and Taylor (11.7) are two of the best scorers for Texas and Taylor is coming off a 27-point Game at Baylor.
If Wiggins has a big Game, there’s a possibility that one of those Texas guards offsets whatever Wiggins does. That’s a big ask, but it isn’t out of the question. Don’t put this Game automatically in the Kansas win column because this will turn into a fight. The Longhorns are at home, playing well and have a chance to knock off Kansas. That’s plenty of motivation if they needed any.
Predicted Score- Kansas 89 Texas 74