The Big 12 announced its 2023-24 basketball schedule Tuesday featuring the conference’s four new schools: Houston, BYU, Cincinnati and UCF. Here’s what you need to know:
- This marks the Big 12’s first time as a 14-team league.
- Teams will play five Big 12 opponents twice and the other eight conference opponents once, for a total of 18 conference games.
- College basketball’s regular season begins Nov. 6, and Big 12 play opens on Jan. 6.
- Four Big 12 teams made The Athletic’s college basketball preseason top 25 rankings. Kansas leads the list at No. 1, while Baylor is No. 10, Houston ranks No. 13 and Texas sits at No. 23.
A look at the 2023-24 #Big12MBB conference schedule.
Read the full release at https://t.co/LbyJ3rmYLt pic.twitter.com/Wo64El2T46
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) September 26, 2023
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
What to expect from the newcomers
Houston should step in as an immediate contender in the new-look Big 12. The Cougars have made it to at least the Sweet 16 each of the past three postseasons as members of the American Athletic Conference, including a Final Four run in 2021 and Elite Eight in 2022. The program also makes for a seamless fit in the Big 12’s Texas-focused footprint and should provide some stellar conference showdowns with home-and-homes against Kansas and Texas and a road trip to Baylor.
The other three newcomers are less likely to vie for a league crown but offer some intriguing matchups, including a revival of the Cincinnati-West Virginia rivalry from the Old Big East days, and farther-flung road trips to UCF and BYU. Cincinnati travels to Provo, Utah, for an inaugural Big 12 showdown with BYU on Jan. 6, 2024, while Kansas heads to Orlando for UCF’s Big 12 home opener on Jan. 10. — Williams
Last Big 12 seasons for Texas and Oklahoma
Similar to their football schedules, the Longhorns and Sooners can expect less-than-hospitable road environments for their final seasons in the Big 12. Texas eases into it with early road trips to Cincinnati and West Virginia before traveling to Kansas, Texas Tech and Baylor over the final weeks of the regular season.
Oklahoma visits TCU and Kansas in January and heads to Baylor, Oklahoma State and Iowa State in February. The two wrap up the regular season against each other in Austin on March 9. — Williams
Top contenders play each other twice
The bummer of Big 12 expansion is that we no longer get a round-robin schedule and the unbalanced schedule returns. You’ll inevitably hear from coaches about how their team plays a harder schedule than Team X.
What the conference got right is making sure the top contenders play each other twice. Kansas has two games against Baylor, Houston and K-State. Baylor plays Houston, Texas and TCU twice. Houston and Texas play twice. That should help the strength of schedule for those contenders and ideally keep it a fair race.
Those strength of schedule numbers matter because the Big 12 has been able to puff its chest as the best conference in college basketball and allowing the best teams to keep their SOS numbers up will help the league stay there. — Moore
(Photo: Scott Wachter / USA Today)