Are Houston fans ready for Big 12 brutality?

The Houston Cougars enter their first Big 12 season at 13-0 and fans must be ready for the brutality of the schedule. 18 games over 64 days, each of them a story unto itself. This won’t be like an AAC season – rolling through Tampa and New Orleans, cruising to wins.

the daily #152 | 1/3/2024 | Archives
 

Over the last five years, UH went 75-14 in the American, with seven of 14 losses coming by one or two points. Houston was beaten by double-digits only twice in those five seasons, and the Coogs were 45-3 at home in conference play in that span.

But that stuff is out the window. In this league, UH will play well and lose. UH will shoot it well and lose. UH will make free throws and lose. As of today, 11 of Houston’s 18 conference games will be Quad 1 in the NCAA NET. With the four Quad 1 wins the Coogs already have, that’s 15 for the year.

To compare, UH has played 14 Quad 1 games in the last two seasons combined (not including the NCAA Tournament). They’ve gone 8-6 in those games (and 57-4 against non-Quad 1).

UH is going to lose games in this league. They’ll lose more than Cougar fans are accustomed to losing, for sure, and the notion of 6-7-8 conference losses is not unthinkable. It’s true, the Coogs go into conference play tied for the most Quad 1 wins in the country (four) and one of only two teams that are 4-0 in Quad 1 (Purdue).

Last year, Kansas played 24 Quad 1 games (went 17-7) and was ninth in the NET. UH played nine Quad 1 games (went 7-2) and was #1 in the NET. Texas played 22 (14-8), while Baylor and Iowa State played 21 (11-10 for BU and 10-11 for ISU). There were 12-14 games in the AAC you could win on talent alone; there might be three on this Big 12 schedule.

Kelvin clapping // Photo © 2023 by Mario Puente

The Schedule. Just as important, league play will have tighter turnarounds than the AAC. The American did the season in 68 days, and because of the goofy TV contract, the games were more spaced out. The Big 12 has four Saturday/Tuesday turnarounds, two Saturday/Mondays, two Saturday/Wednesdays, and one with no mid-week game (and then Kansas to end the season with the Big 12 Tournament to follow).

Everyone starts on Saturday, January 6th. Everyone plays 18 games in 64 days, ending on March 9th. Each team in the league has a variation of a 4-4-4-3-3 schedule. For UH, it’s:

4 games in 12 days, then
4 games in 12 days, then
3 games in 12 days, then
3 games in 14 days, then
4 games in 14 days.

UH’s three-game stretches in the middle are the meat of the schedule: six games in 26 days with three great road atmospheres: at Kansas, at Cincinnati, and at Baylor. Oh, and Texas and Iowa State at home in a Saturday/Monday turn-around.

The two Monday turnarounds could be brutal, and both feature Texas: Kansas State-Texas-Kansas and Texas-Iowa State-Baylor in eight-day stretches.

For the week with no weekday game, Kansas and Houston get Texas as their opponent; Texas gets UH as theirs, as does Cincinnati. Kansas and UH get Texas at home after the mid-week break; Texas travels to Houston on theirs.

Next season, the conference moves to 20 league games, which is what the Big East and Big 10 play already. Houston and Kansas are also scheduled to play a non-conference game in Mexico City in December, and each school’s women’s team will do the same.
 


 

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