Big 12-Big East Challenge Coming to College Basketball – Five Matchups We’d Like to See

    Next season, the Big 12 and Big East will begin a four-year men's basketball series that will involve all 10 teams in each conference annually. All 10

    October 25, 2018

    Next season, the Big 12 and Big East will begin a four-year men’s basketball series that will involve all 10 teams in each conference annually. All 10 games each year will be played at campus sites, with five being hosted by teams in each conference.

    Here are five matchups we want to see in the series.

    Kansas vs. Villanova

    We already know that the Jayhawks will travel to Philadelphia to play the Wildcats in the 2019-2020 season, and if we’re lucky, we might see these schools play each other more than once as part of this series.

    The Wildcats and Jayhawks are unquestionably the premier team in their respective conferences, with Villanova winning two of the last three national championships and four of the last five Big East regular season championships. Kansas has won at least a share of the last 14 Big 12 regular season titles.

    Villanova has defeated Kansas twice in the last three NCAA tournaments, most recently a 95-79 win at the Final Four in March. The two schools also had the highest-rated 2018 recruiting classes, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, meaning there could be the most top-level talent in a game between the Jayhawks and Wildcats.

     

    Baylor vs. Xavier

    These schools recently completed a home-and-home series in which each team won on its home floor by double digits. The ninth-ranked Bears beat the seventh-ranked Musketeers 76-61 in 2016, then No. 21 Xavier turned around and beat No. 16 Baylor 76-63 last year.

    The two schools also met in the NCAA tournament in 2012, when No. 3 seed Baylor held off No. 10 seed Xavier 75-70 in the Sweet 16.

     

    Marquette vs. West Virginia

    In the last two years, Marquette has had a top-15 offense nationally in terms of efficiency, ranking in the top three in three-point percentage and top-10 in free throw percentage. We want to see the Eagles play against West Virginia coach Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” system that has led to the Mountaineers finishing first or second in defensive turnover rate in each of the last four years.

    While West Virginia is known for its full-court, pressure defense, the team’s offense has still been efficient, typically fueled by one of the best offensive rebounding rates in the country.

    Marquette and West Virginia sharing the court for 40 minutes could be an absolute blur.

     

    Butler vs. Texas

    Texas’ loss to Butler in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament marked the end of the Rick Barnes era in Austin. The Longhorns stifled the Bulldogs in a 61-48 win last season.

    A Butler-Texas matchup would also provide a compelling contrast between Texas – one of the biggest brands in college athletics that can consistently enroll top-end talent – and Butler, a school that has arguably overachieved given its size and standing but consistently competes in the Big East due to its player evaluation and development.

     

    Kansas vs. St. John’s

    This one’s for the college basketball history buffs. It’d be a rematch of the only college basketball national championship game played between teams currently in the Big 12 and Big East.

    Kansas, coached by Phog Allen, beat the Johnnies 80-63 in the 1952 title game.

    It would be poetic for these schools to play at Allen Fieldhouse, named after the Jayhawks’ former coach.

    There are also a pair of ties between the schools involving the St. John’s head coaching position. During St. John’s coach Chris Mullin’s freshman season, the Red Storm beat Kansas 76-75. Former St. John’s coach Norm Roberts, who led the Red Storm from the 2005 season until 2010, is now an assistant on Kansas coach Bill Self’s staff.

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