Kansas tips off league play on Wednesday night in Ames, Iowa, against Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones who currently sit at 0-1 in the conference. Hilton Magic is what they like to call it and while the Jayhawks could walk in and stumble at Iowa State, there are six other Kansas Jayhawk games that need to be marked on the calender when looking for the matchups that will determine the Big 12 championship.
To start the year the media selected Kansas State and Frank Martin as the preseason favorites to win the conference. Kansas is the six time defending champ however and 15 games in the world once again sees the Big 12 title going through Lawrence. These are the games to circle and if Kansas is going to relinquish the title, it's going to happen to one of the teams in this mix.
Kansas at Baylor - Jan. 17
Kansas travels to Waco to take on Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears. The Bears are experiencing some growing pains with the departure of Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh from a year ago, but you'd be hard pressed to find a longer more athletic team in the league.
LaceDarius Dunn is the leader of this group and averages over 20 points per game while Quincy Acy and true freshman Perry Jones cause a variety of matchup problems with 6'10" frames that have the athleticism to play like a 6'5" wing.
Road games don't come easy in the Big 12, this is the Jayhawks' first BIG test.
Kansas vs Texas - Jan. 14
In the final year of the unbalanced schedule, Kansas draws the home contest in this mini rivalry. It's true that Kansas State and Missouri have reemerged on the basketball scene and given Kansas a more traditional rival in their flagship sport, but Texas has been the team that Kansas has battle with over the years for Big 12 regular season titles and Big 12 postseason titles.
The fact is, Texas is the closest program to Kansas in terms of success and once again this year Texas is talented, battle tested and this game will go a long way toward giving one team an upper hand down the stretch.
Kansas vs. Kansas State - Jan. 29
The Jayhawks host the Wildcats in the first of two matchups and they'll also play host to ESPN's College Gameday for this one. Three months ago this looked like a battle of the titans, but with Kansas State's slow decent down the rankings it has lost a little bit of the flare.
Even so, it hasn't lost much. Kansas State will be back at full strength with Curtis Kelly and Jacob Pullen. The Wildcats have the talent and depth to compete for the conference. And until Kansas reasserts themselves against the team picked to win out for the title, Kansas State and Jacob Pullen still consider themselves the favorite.
Kansas at Kansas State - Feb. 14
One week after hosting Missouri, Kansas heads to Manhattan for what promises to be one of the two most hostile environments they'll face all season. The Wildcats will be hungry as Kansas State still holds just one win in Bramlage Coliseum's history over the Jayhawks and that win will have come over two years ago at the time this one is played.
Throw in the fact that the Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats in all three meetings a year ago and you will be hard pressed to find a crowd in the country that will provide more anger and fuel for their team than in this one.
Kansas vs Texas A&M - March 2
Mark Turgeon once again returns to Lawrence and at the moment he seems to have a team that's playing very well. A&M figures to be in the hunt among the South teams as a viable option to win the conference, but it won't be easy.
Kansas plays A&M just three days before heading to Columbia and this late in the season it's hard to say where the conference race will stand. A&M could be a critical game to help relieve some pressure, but it also could be a tough contest with the Jayhawks looking ahead to their next opponent.
Turgeon knows Kansas, A&M plays tough. This one will be a battle.
Kansas at Missouri - March 5
Another familiar face and another hostile crowd. Closing out the season in Columbia is never easy. Kansas players can get ready for late night phone calls from the antlers and a few less than kind references to their personal lives once they take the court as these two teams and these two schools, just don't like each other.
A year ago Kansas won both meetings. Missouri figures to be just as hungry as Kansas State for a win in this series. If Kansas can pull out a win in Columbia and/or Manhattan it could prove to be the decisive factor in the Jayhawks seventh straight conference title.