We’re officially in December, which is an odd time for college basketball. We will have the occasional good non-conference matchup, like we did this past Saturday with Wichita State/Baylor and Syracuse/Kansas. On Tuesday night, we’ll get to see Virginia travel to West Virginia. But it also feels like the schedule slows down following the Thanksgiving/Feast Week craziness. There’s about to be more time in between games due to finals and Christmas breaks, and we’ll see a lot of home game tune-ups against lesser opponents before conference play starts. Even though the Big Ten’s reason for playing games in December this season is incredibly stupid (their conference tournament is being played a week earlier so it can be played in New York City), it is fun to see some intense conference matchups early in the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if other conferences did a week of conference games in December within the next five years. It did give the Big Ten some attention and notoriety this past weekend. It’s unfortunate that December feels like a valley in the college basketball calendar, but we’ll make due with what we have.
Tonight, we’ve got three Big 12 games. None are great; they all would classify as those home game tune-ups that I described above. The most competitive game will be Iowa State hosting Northern Illinois; the Cyclones are favored by 15 points.
Before we dive into tonight further, here are my picks from yesterday. I’m currently hovering around .500 still on the season (click image to open in new tab).
Kansas State recorded an important road victory at Vanderbilt on Sunday, winning 84-79. K-State was led by Xavier Sneed, who scored 21 points on 8-11 shooting from the field (7-7 from 2-point range). Kansas State won this game at the FT line, going 22-24 from the charity stripe as they got to the FT line better in this game than any previous game this season, as they had a FT Rate of 48%. I have not yet done a video breakdown of any Kansas State action yet this season, but expect to see something this week in my Power Rankings post. It will likely be on the play of their backcourt, as Sneed, Kamau Stokes, and Barry Brown have all played well at points this season.
Here are my picks for tonight’s games. Lines are from VegasInsider and are as up to date as 11:00 AM CST on Monday (click image to open in new tab).
Northern Illinois at Iowa State (-15.5):
• Freshman Lindell Wigginton is now averaging 13 PPP on the season and is averaging 15 PPG over the last 4 games on 22-47 shooting from the field and 9-20 shooting from 3-point range. Wigginton is the 2nd highest scorer among freshmen in the Big 12 behind Trae Young. He seems to be hitting his stride a bit now that he’s fully playing off the ball.
UTSA at Oklahoma (-23.5):
• Kameron McGusty and Rashard Odomes, who played the 3rd and 1st most minutes among OU players last season, are playing the 6th and 7th most minutes among Sooner players this season. Trae Young and Brady Manek were not on the roster last season, so those two make sense. But Jordan Shepherd and Christian James surpassing those two so clearly in Lon Kruger’s rotation has really surprised me. If Oklahoma wants to make a run at Kansas or to the 2nd weekend of the NCAA Tournament, they’re going to need production out of those two. They’re too talented and versatile on offense to not contribute.