Texas Basketball: 2021-22 Biggest Conference Games of the Season
Last week, the Texas Longhorns dropped their 2021-22 basketball conference schedule, with some real challenges on it. One of their first major games of the conference campaign will be one of the rowdiest possible environments - on the road to play Chris Beard's former school, Texas Tech. In the same week, they play host to unanimous top-five Kansas. We'll learn a lot about this team in that six-day span.
February 1st - @ Texas Tech; Feb. 19th, vs. Texas Tech
Texas will play in a trial by fire on February 1st, playing on the road in Lubbock, where Red Raiders will have one goal: beat Texas. This will without a doubt be one of the toughest matchups of the season.
There is bad blood here to say the least due to the departure of Chris Beard. Mark Adams, the new head coach for the Red Raiders, is highly respected in college basketball circles as well. Have no doubts, this will be an incredibly difficult game.
Texas Tech loses a bit off of last year's squad, including leading scorer G Mac McClung, who was picked up as an UDFA by the Lakers, and G Kyler Edwards, who transferred to the University of Houston. They do bring back G Kevin McCullar, G Terrence Shannon Jr., and F Marcus Santos-Silva.
However, like Texas, the Red Raiders also brought in an impressive crop of experienced transfers: G Davion Warren from Hampton, F Kevin Obanor from Oral Roberts' miracle Sweet-16 team last year, F Bryson Williams from UTEP, G Sardaar Calhoun from Florida State, G Mylik Wilson from Louisiana, F KJ Allen, of Last Chance U: Basketball fame, G Adonis Arms from Winthrop, and F Daniel Batcho from Arizona. Their starting five will likely be Wilson, McCullar, Shannon, Williams, and Santos-Silva.
Texas has an all-time record of 80 wins to 60 losses vs Texas Tech in their 140 matchups. However, in Chris Beard's last nine games against his alma mater, the Red Raiders held a seven-wins-to-two-losses advantage over the Longhorns.
New HC Mark Adams, the creator of the no-middle defense, will be quite a foe for the man he once worked under. I predict Texas Tech to finish third or fourth in conference this year, in there with a mix of Texas, Kansas, and Baylor.
February 7th - @ Kansas; March 5th - vs. Kansas
Kansas, who I have ranked no. 2 overall in my top 25 (an article on which will come closer to the season), looks, like Texas, poised to compete for a national championship this year. As I referenced earlier, the six-day stretch of playing at Texas Tech then taking on KU at home will be a real indication of where the program is at that time. They then follow that up by playing Baylor in Austin.
Kansas brings in arguably the top transfer in the country in G Remy Martin from Arizona State, as well as G Joseph Yesufu from Drake, G Jalen Coleman-Lands from Iowa State, and Cam Martin, from DII's Missouri Southern. They return G Ochai Agbaji, F Jalen Wilson, F David McCormack (likely preseason nominee for Big-12 POTY), and G Christian Braun. Their starting lineup will likely be Martin, Yesufu, Agbaji, Wilson, and McCormack.
Remy Martin is the big draw for the Jayhawks, and could win Big-12 POTY himself. Many sites privy to knowledge on transfer players had Martin and Texas' Marcus Carr as the top two transfers in the nation coming into 2021-2022. It will be interesting to see them go head-to-head this year, as both have a chance to have very special seasons on their new teams.
Over the course of the time of Kansas' being in the Big 12, they have dominated every opponent, including Texas. The Jayhawks hold a 32-10 lead all time over the Longhorns. Hopefully for UT, they can reverse this trend this year.
February 12th - @ Baylor; February 28th - vs. Baylor
Texas takes on the defending national champions on the road on February 12th; their three-game stretch of @ Tech, vs. Kansas and @ Baylor will be the defining three games of the season. If they can come out of that stretch 2-1, I like their chances going forward. I'm not expecting 3-0 out of that murderer's row of games.
Baylor, off of their national title team, returns F Matthew Mayer, G Adam Flagler, F Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, F Flo Thamba, and G LJ Cryer. They lose a trio of star guards to the NBA: Davion Mitchell (Sacramento Kings), Jared Butler (Utah Jazz), and MaCio Teague (Utah Jazz). These were the primary engines of the Baylor team that went 27-2 last season and beat previously undefeated Gonzaga for the NCAA championship, but the Bears loaded up again in the offseason. The primary acquisitions were Arizona G transfer James Akinjo and five-star F Kendall Brown. They also add four-star G Langston Love. Their starting five will be Akinjo, Flagler, Brown, Meyer and Tchamwa Tchatchoua.
Baylor first played Texas in 1907, and all time, have a losing record of 65-94 against the Longhorns. But as of late, the Bears have had Texas' number, winning 10 of their last 11 versus UT. While Texas has struggled for the last few seasons, Baylor has thrived, so this record isn't exactly surprising.
While not as scary as they were last year, Baylor has some real talent on their team, and I have them in my top 10 heading into the season. Scott Drew knows how to make things happen in Waco, and I will not be surprised to see Baylor competing for another Big 12 title this season.
Though they have a decent non-conference schedule, with games like Gonzaga on the road and Tennessee at home, the real tests are going to come in conference. These six games will be some of the toughest of the season, and really show where this program is overall. The Big 12 will be one of the best conferences in 2021-2022, and the Longhorns will have to play really well in order to stay at the top. Luckily, with this roster and HC, they have a great chance to win the conference.