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Men’s Basketball: Big 12 wins 2023 Big East-Big 12 Battle

The Big 12 gets its first Battle win, taking seven of the eleven games.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - Midwest Regional Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The 2023 Big East-Big 12 Battle concluded on Wednesday night in Milwaukee, WI as No. 8 Marquette handled No. 12 Texas; it was too little, too late for the Big East as the Big 12 had already comfortably secured the Battle crown for the first time since the series’ inception in 2019. The Battle pits together teams from two of college basketball’s elite conferences, the two leagues have produced five of the last seven National Champions, including the last three in a row. The 2023 edition of the Battle held eleven games for the first time, as new teams have been introduced to the Big 12. The non-conference showdown took place over the last week on campus sites, ultimately resulting in seven wins for Big 12 programs to just four for the Big East. It’s the first season with an outright conference winner in the Battle since the series’ first in 2019 when the Big East won 8-2.

The Big 12 fell behind early, as the two games on Thursday November 30th both went in favor of the Big East squads. Butler took the opener after Texas Tech’s Pop Isaacs made a layup in the final seconds to force overtime, but the Bulldogs ran away with it in the extra time, emerging with a 103-95 win over the Red Raiders. Later that night, No. 15 Creighton went into Stillwater’s Gallagher-Iba Arena and put a beat down on Oklahoma State, a Cowboys squad that is having major struggles to open the season.

Friday December 1 featured four games in the Battle, with three going to the Big 12 to even things up at three games apiece. No. 6 Houston went on the road to Cintas Center and escaped with a victory over the Xavier Musketeers 66-60, a back-and-forth fight that ultimately came down to free throw shooting as the Cougars made enough to stay in front to the final buzzer. Iowa State also earned a road victory, dominating a DePaul squad that is among the worst in Power 6. West Virginia hosted Rick Pitino and the St. John’s Red Storm, as a series of SJU three pointers in the 2nd half broke the game open and the Red Storm held on for the win. The night’s final game was the marquee matchup of the entire Battle, with 2023 National Champion UConn traveling to Allen Fieldhouse to face 2022 National Champion Kansas, and it lived up to the lofty billing. Tristan Newton made six 3FGs, scoring 31 points for the Huskies, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Jayhawks in Lawrence as KJ Adams made a pair of FTs in the final seconds to seal a 69-65 KU win.

TCU’s (completely uncontroversial...) buzzer beater to down Georgetown in Washington DC was the lone game of the Battle over the weekend as the Horned Frogs improved to 3-2 all-time in the Battle. Y’all already know how that one went, but let’s see that Emanuel Miller highlight one more time:

The Battle continued on Tuesday December 5th, with a trio of matchups that looks to be evenly matched, but only one turned out to be close. Oklahoma continued its stellar start to the season with a dominating victory over Providence in Norman, as the Friars were held to 40% shooting from the floor while the Sooners owned the glass, particularly on the offensive end. The other run-away was Baylor closing down the Ferrell Center in Waco with a cruising victory over the Seton Hall Pirates. The one toss-up game was in Manhattan, KS as Villanova missed a shot at the end of regulation, allowing the game to extend into overtime where Tylor Perry delivered a stunning step-back death blow, serving ‘Nova its fourth loss of the season.

The Battle concluded on Wednesday night with Shaka Smart serving his former employer, the Texas Longhorns, with a 21-point defeat as the Golden Eagles’ Tyler Kolek looked every bit the All-American Player of the Year candidate he’s billed to be, dropping 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

New Big 12 members BYU, Cincinnati, and UCF did not participate this season. The leagues extended the series to continue through at least next season. The Big 12 begins conference play on Saturday, January 6 with all 14 league members in play, opening with TCU playing Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse at 1:00 PM, broadcast on CBS.