Who’s hungry for college basketball?
Here’s today’s installment of “The Breakfast Buffet”, a daily column that can be found here every single morning getting you caught up to date on everything that’s happened from the day/night before and everything that’s going to happen in the next 24 hours.
Things To Sample
Rick Barnes returns to Texas
Barnes went to 16 NCAA Tournaments in 17 years as Texas’ head coach from 1998-2015, highlighted by a trip to the Final Four in 2003. Today, he returns to Austin with Tennessee as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Chris Beard — whose done a tremendous job embracing the past lineage of the Longhorns’ program — will welcome Barnes with open arms. This is a tricky spot for Texas. It’s not easy to play a non-conference game right in the middle of January, especially when it’s against a figure who was the face of the Longhorns’ program for nearly two decades. It’s also not easy to play a capable opponent like Tennessee just three days before Beard has to return to Texas Tech — a place where he just coached for five years — for the first time as Texas’ head coach, which will happen on Tuesday. A difficult 40 minutes await the Longhorns.
Kentucky visits Kansas
The marquee matchup of the Big 12/SEC Challenge features a battle of blue blood programs at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Sounds delicious! Both of these teams aren’t probably getting the type of attention that they deserve when it comes to their potential to go to the Final Four and win a national title. Kentucky hasn’t lost a game in 2022 at full strength and has the balance, point guard play (Sahvir Wheeler), shooting (Kellan Grady), and muscle (Oscar Tshiebwe) to reach New Orleans during the first weekend of April. Kansas meanwhile, has arguably the best wing tandem in the sport with Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun. This is a Final Four caliber game.
A battle of elite perimeters in Tuscaloosa
Like guards? If so then you’ll love this game. Alabama (13-7) has been as mercurial as any team in the sport, but the quality of its guard play has never been in question. The Crimson Tide’s top four scorers — Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Keon Ellis, and JD Davison — are all perimeter players. Baylor’s backcourt is no pushover. The Bears lost Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and MaCio Teague from last year’s team that won a national title, but still have one of the best guard cores in the country with James Akinjo, Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer, and Matthew Mayer. Akinjo did not play in the last game due to a lingering tailbone injury. This game may not have the same cache as Kentucky’s trip to Kansas, but it could very well be the most entertaining tilt of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
On The Side
- Michigan (10-7) freshman Caleb Houstan is starting to perform like many thought he would at the start of the season. The five-star prospect is averaging 17.7 points in his last three games and is an impressive 11-16 from three-point range during that span. Juwan Howard’s squad has won three straight entering today’s game against Michigan State in East Lansing (12:30 PM ET, CBS).
- Nobody has had a harder schedule over the last two weeks than Oklahoma (12-7). The Sooners hosted Kansas and Baylor back-to-back last week in Norman then visited West Virginia on Wednesday before traveling to Auburn today as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Yikes!
- St. John’s (11-7) played its way onto the bubble last season when it upset Villanova (15-5) at Carnesecca Arena. Will history repeat itself today on the Main Line? A road win this afternoon by the Red Storm would instantly put Mike Anderson’s squad into the NCAA Tournament discussion.
- Notre Dame’s NCAA Tournament hopes may come down its next 80 minutes. The Irish host Virginia on Saturday in a game that they simply can’t lose and then will host Duke on Monday. Remember: Notre Dame has a win on its resume from earlier this season against Kentucky. Mike Brey and the Irish have not heard their name called on Selection Sunday since 2017.
- During a week where Louisville made an in-season coaching change, Rick Pitino led Iona to its 17th win in its first 20 games. The Gaels have won six straight and are the only team from the MAAC ranked in the Top 100 of the NET.
- Michigan at Michigan State
- Oklahoma at Auburn
- Baylor at Alabama
- Kentucky at Kansas
- Tennessee at Texas