The Big 12 released its men’s basketball schedule for conference play on Thursday afternoon, and Jayhawk fans flocked over to see the game-by-game breakdown. As Kansas looks to win its 13th straight regular season Big 12 championship, the road to the title will feature familiar teams.
Kansas opens conference play in December for the first time in the modern-day era of the Big 12. The Jayhawks, who have won 24 consecutive Big 12 openers, will begin with a favorable three-game stretch: at TCU (Friday, December 30), vs. Kansas State (Tuesday, January 3), and vs. Texas Tech (Saturday, January 7). KU should be 3-0 through the first week of league play, but the next couple of weeks will present the biggest test of the Big 12 schedule. The next five league games: at Oklahoma (Tuesday, January 10), vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, January 14), at Iowa State (Monday, January 16), vs. Texas (Saturday, January 24), and at West Virginia (Tuesday, January 24) will be a key test to see how the Jayhawks compare to the rest of a Big 12 that most expect them to be the class of. And after that, the Jayhawks will travel to Rupp Arena on Saturday, January 28 to play the Kentucky Wildcats in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Luckily for Kansas, the schedule gets easier with the turn of the calendar to February. KU should win its first five games in February: vs. Baylor (Wednesday, February 1), vs. Iowa State (Saturday, February 4), at Kansas State (Monday, February 6), at Texas Tech (Saturday, February 11), vs. West Virginia (Monday, February 13). After that, the Jayhawks will close the year with a moderately difficult five-game set: at Baylor (Saturday, February 18), vs. TCU (Wednesday, February 22), at Texas (Saturday, February 25), vs. Oklahoma (Monday, February 27), and at Oklahoma State (Saturday, March 4). However, by this point, there’s a chance that Kansas will have separated itself from the competition enough where the road games won’t carry a ton of weight.
In all, the schedule breaks down like this:
Four Big Monday games: January 16 at Iowa State, February 6 at Kansas State, February 13 vs. West Virginia, and February 27 vs. Oklahoma.
Three Super Tuesday games: January 3 vs. Kansas State, January 10 at Oklahoma, and January 24 at West Virginia.
Two Wednesday games: February 1 vs. Baylor, and February 22 vs. TCU.
One Friday night game: December 30 at TCU.
Eight league Saturday games, and the January 28 showdown with Kentucky.
All games will be broadcast nationally on either ESPN, ESPN2, or CBS.
Personally, I think Kansas did well with this draw. The Jayhawks will have the opportunity to get off to a good start in league play, and as long as they can weather the storm through that mid-to-late January stretch, the February schedule is favorable. In a way, it’s very similar to the schedule Kansas was given last year. The Jayhawks started 3-0 but then stumbled to a 2-3 record over the last five games of January. However, after that, a soft February schedule allowed KU to go 9-0 in that month, and they won the league outright with a 15-3 mark.
I think you’ll see something similar to that for Kansas this year, though the quality of the Big 12 is much worse than it was last year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a 15 or 16-win Jayhawk team cruise to the conference title. Either way, we know we’ll have some enjoyable basketball in the first two months of 2017.
FULL SCHEDULE WITH TIMES AND TV:
Fri, Dec 30: at TCU, 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Tue, Jan 3: Kansas State, 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Sat, Jan 7: Texas Tech, 6:15 pm, ESPN2
Tue, Jan 10: at Oklahoma, 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Sat, Jan 14: Oklahoma State, 1:00 pm, ESPN or ESPN2
Mon, Jan 16: at Iowa State, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Sat, Jan 21: Texas, 1:00 pm, CBS
Tue, Jan 24: at West Virginia, 6:00 pm, ESPN2
Sat, Jan 28: at Kentucky, 5:00 pm, ESPN
Wed, Feb 1: Baylor, 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Sat, Feb 4: Iowa State, 5:00 or 7:00 pm, ESPN or ESPN2
Mon, Feb 6: at Kansas State, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Sat, Feb 11: at Texas Tech, 1:00 pm, ESPN or ESPN2
Mon, Feb 13: West Virginia, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Sat, Feb 18: at Baylor, 12:00 pm, CBS
Wed, Feb 22: TCU, 6:00 pm, ESPN2
Sat, Feb 25: at Texas, 5:00 or 7:00 pm, ESPN or ESPN2
Mon, Feb 27: Oklahoma, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Sat, Mar 4: at Oklahoma State, 5:00 pm, ESPN