With next season’s Big 12-Big East Battle games announced, let’s take an early look into the matchups. The Big East won the Battle in its inaugural year, posting an 8-2 record. The conferences have since tied the previous two seasons. Can the Big East keep a lead ahead of the home of the past two national champions?
Baylor at Marquette
Marquette hosts Baylor, the 4th ranked team in Andy Katz’s way-too-early power rankings, to open the Big 12-Big East Battle this season. The teams will meet on Tuesday, November 29th at Fiserv Forum. Marquette has a limited history against the Bears, splitting a home-and-home with them in 1998 and 1999. Golden Eagles’ coach Shaka Smart, however, is familiar with Scott Drew from his time at Texas. As coach of the Longhorns, Smart had just a 2-10 record against Baylor in six seasons.
Providence at TCU
Does this one sound familiar? It should! Providence and TCU met in this series just two seasons ago at TCU and will be repeating that matchup. That TCU team finished under .500 and eighth in the Big 12, and the Friars cruised to a 79-70 victory. Things shouldn’t be as easy for Providence this time around, as the Horned Frogs are returning their starting lineup and sit just outside the top 25 according to Andy Katz.
Georgetown at Texas Tech
These teams have not met since the Sweet Sixteen in 1996 when Allen Iverson dropped 32 points and knocked the Red Raiders out of the tournament. That game was one of two meetings between the programs, both won by the Hoyas. Neither team has found success in the series between the two conferences, with Georgetown at 1-2 and Texas Tech at 0-2.
Kansas State at Butler
Butler and Kansas State were scheduled to play this game in 2020, but COVID-19 caused it to be cancelled. Two years later, and the matchup is finally happening. The game is a rematch of the 2010 Elite Eight, a game won by the Bulldogs en route to a National Championship appearance. Both programs have new coaches this season; Thad Matta stepped in at Butler while Jerome Tang replaced Bruce Weber at Kansas State.
Creighton at Texas
The Christian Bishop-bowl. The forward announced he’ll return for a second season with the Longhorns after spending three seasons at Creighton. Unfortunately, this game won’t be played in front of his old fans in Omaha. Gary Parrish currently has Creighton at number 11 and Texas at 16 in his Top 25 And 1, and expectations are high for both programs. This should be an exciting and high-stakes affair.
Oklahoma State at Connecticut
UConn’s first home game in the Battle since their return to the Big East! They welcome the Cowboys, a team returning three top scorers, one of whom won DPOY of the Big 12. This should be a defensive battle and a tough early test for Dan Hurley’s remade squad.
Seton Hall at Kansas
In an alternate universe, Shaheen Holloway and the Peacocks (great band name, should Holloway ever pursue a career in music) would have met Kansas for a national title last season. Instead, Holloway gets a chance to take on the defending champs in his first year as the head coach at Seton Hall. Kansas sits in the top ten according to both Katz and Parrish, and the Jayhawks rarely lose games at Allen Fieldhouse. The Pirates will have their work cut out for them if they hope to make a statement early in the season.
Oklahoma at Villanova
Oklahoma struggled a season ago, and the Sooners lost three of their top four scorers. They have two four-star recruits, plus impact-transfer Joe Bamisile from George Washington, joining the team this season who could make things interesting. Still, Villanova has a deep bench of highly-touted recruits ready to step up next season under Kyle Neptune, and the Wildcats seemingly always find a way to win at home.
St. John’s at Iowa State
This game features a battle of big transfers. For St. John’s, it’s Andre Curbelo and David Jones stepping in to make an impact. For the Cyclones, Tre King, Jarren Holmes, and Osun Osunniyi hope to help Iowa State to postseason success for the second consecutive year. Both teams have a high ceiling and a low floor, making this a high volatility matchup.
West Virginia at Xavier
Both of these teams disappointed last season but are hoping to rebound this year. Despite dominating in November and December, the Musketeers couldn’t compete in a loaded Big 12 and failed to make the postseason. Once a top 25 team, Xavier floundered and missed the NCAA Tournament before rebounding to win the NIT after Travis Steele departed. Musketeer fans hope that changing the coach was the key, as much of the roster remains the same for next season. Behind Sean Miller, Xavier could be a top 25 team once again. This game against WVU will present an early signal of Miller’s second tenure on Victory Parkway.