Kansas basketball: Evaluating Jayhawks’ conference schedule in January

We predicted the outcome of each Kansas basketball conference game this month
Connecticut v Kansas
Connecticut v Kansas / Porter Binks/GettyImages

The start of the Kansas basketball season has been exceptional. The Jayhawks finished nonconference play at 12-1 with a No. 2 national ranking. Kevin McCullar and Hunter Dickinson are midseason All-Americans and orchestrating one of the most talented Bill Self teams in recent history.

KU escaped the first two months of the year with wins over UConn, Kentucky, and Tennessee, among others. With Big 12 games beginning this weekend, now is when we will see the true colors of the roster. The players must become accustomed to playing 2-3 games per week without any breaks, especially in hostile road environments.

There are eight conference games to be played in January. Let's develop an early outlook on each of them.

Jan. 6: TCU vs. No. 2 Kansas

This could be a tough game for Kansas out of the gates of conference play. TCU is 11-2 but looked less impressive after a hot start, dropping games against Clemson and Nevada. With the students on Christmas break and it being a matinee game, it might not be the prettiest performance, but Kansas should pull away with a win thanks to some Fieldhouse magic.

Prediction: Kansas wins

Jan. 10: No. 2 Kansas vs. UCF

UCF has been what they were expected to be coming into the year — mediocre. Considering they couldn't defeat Stetson on their home court, it'll probably be one of the easier road games for the Jayhawks. Give me Kansas by double digits.

Prediction: Kansas wins

Jan. 13: No. 11 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Kansas

Here is the first real test of conference play for Kansas and the most difficult test yet for OU. They have been playing terrific basketball and finished their nonconference slate at 12-1 with wins over Providence and USC. How legit are the Sooners? We'll find out on the 13th. For now, Kansas is the better team and will have a rowdy crowd behind them.

Prediction: Kansas wins

Jan. 16: No. 2 Kansas vs. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State is bad. REALLY bad. Have we seen crazier things from a Big 12 game on the road? Definitely. But if KU loses to a school that dropped games against Southern Illinois and Abilene Christian, the Jayhawks will have to do some deep reflecting.

Prediction: Kansas wins

Jan. 20: No. 2 Kansas vs. West Virginia

The story is no different next time around. Kansas gets the two worst teams in the conference on the road within five days. It's possible the Jayhawks get complacent, so I definitely see this being a trap game. That being said, WVU just doesn't have the weapons to complete the upset this year.

Prediction: Kansas wins

Jan. 22: Cincinnati vs. No. 2 Kansas

Cincinnati has played well to begin its inaugural season in the Big 12. Like BYU, it's difficult to predict how they'll do in conference play. UC begins the new year with BYU, Texas, Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma before getting Kansas. They definitely got the short end of the stick in terms of scheduling. It's difficult to see a scenario where Wes Miller pulls off the victory.

Prediction: Kansas wins

Jan. 27: No. 2 Kansas vs. Iowa State

Here is where I predict KU's first loss of conference play to occur. The Jayhawks always have trouble in Ames, and the Cyclones have been playing stifling defense lately. While they had an extremely weak nonconference slate, it is clear that this is a good team. This is the only game I predict Kansas will lose this month.

Prediction: Iowa State wins

Jan. 30: Oklahoma State vs. No. 2 Kansas

If Bill Self loses a game, there's no way he is following that loss up with another to the worst team in the Big 12 at home. Not a chance. Kansas by 20+ points here.

Prediction: Kansas wins