The SEC-Big 12 Challenge saw 10 games played Saturday, a handful of which had big NCAA tournament implications as January comes to a close.
Let’s take a look at the games with the biggest impact.
No. 8 Kentucky beat No. 9 Kansas 71-63
This one won’t have a huge impact on the NCAAT hopes for Kansas, but it was a great look for Kentucky. In his latest bracket prediction, Andy Katz had both teams as 2 seeds, with Kentucky the seventh overall and Kansas the eighth. The second loss in three games for Kansas isn’t a good look for the Jayhawks, but it was a close loss on the road to a great team after a terrible shooting night, not a cause for great concern. They’ll have a tune-up game at Texas Tuesday before hosting No. 14 Texas Tech next Saturday.
Kentucky has now won six in a row, with the last three all coming against ranked teams (No. 14 Auburn, No. 22 Mississippi State, and No. 9 Kansas). After a somewhat rocky start to the season, the Wildcats are looking like the perennial March Madness contenders they are.
TCU beat Florida 55-50
Things aren’t looking good for the Gators. Florida falls to 11-8 on the season with its fourth loss this month, and the road ahead is about to get a lot harder. Here are the next four games for Florida:
- Jan. 30 vs. No. 20 Mississippi
- Feb. 2 vs. No. 8 Kentucky
- Feb. 5 at No. 16 Auburn
- Feb. 9 at No. 1 Tennessee
Hard to see Florida coming out of that with two wins.
TCU on the other hand picked up a crucial win. The Horned Frogs were 2-3 over their last five games (two of those losses came on the road against ranked teams), leaving them at a 9 seed in Katz’s latest bracket prediction. Up next is a great opportunity with a game at No. 14 Texas Tech.
No. 24 Iowa State beat No. 20 Mississippi 87-73
Iowa State pushed Kansas to the wire with an 80-76 loss in Lawrence Monday, so this solid road win was a great line on the resume for the Cyclones, who also knocked off No. 8 Texas Tech on the road earlier in January. The win was Iowa State’s third against a ranked team this year, and with only one more game scheduled against a currently ranked squad (against Texas Tech on March 9 to close out the season), this was a much-needed victory.
Mississippi suffered its third loss in four games, not a great stretch for the Rebels. Katz dropped them from a 7 to an 8 seed in his latest prediction, and the Rebels will need to recover soon if they want to stop that slide. February holds games against No. 22 Mississippi State (Feb. 2), No. 16 Auburn (Feb. 13), and No. 1 Tennessee (Feb. 27) — a daunting schedule, but definitely an opportunity to move up the board.
Texas A&M beat Kansas State 65-53
This was an ugly loss for Kansas State. The Wildcats were riding a five-game winning streak that included three ranked wins, bumping them from an 8 seed to a 6 in Katz’s latest prediction. And then they lost to 7-10 Texas A&M by double digits. There’s still plenty of games to play this season, but Kansas State needs to prove that this was a fluke.
Baylor beat Alabama 73-68
Alabama was sitting on the good side of the bubble in Katz’s latest prediction, as an 11 seed in the First Four. But January has not been kind to the Crimson Tide, who are now 3-4 in the month, with three of those losses coming against unranked opponents. Not a good look.
Oklahoma beat Vanderbilt 86-55
The Sooners stopped a slide with this one. After losing three of their last five, Oklahoma fell from a 5 seed to a 7 in Katz’s last bracket, but a dominating performance at home will help turn the tide for the Sooners, who are in the middle of the Big 12 pack, but have plenty of potential.