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Big 12 Preview: Is it really Baylor and everyone else?

The No. 6 Baylor Lady Bears look to take their 10th straight Big 12 regular-season title. But the Big 12 isn’t all about Baylor. The Kansas Jayhawks and others look to make some noise.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four-Semifinals-Oregon vs Baylor
DiDi Richards, Lauren Cox and NaLyssa Smith (left to right) look to lead the Baylor Lady Bears to their 10th straight regular season conference title.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 regular season has been owned by the No. 6 Baylor Lady Bears. Baylor has not lost a Big 12 regular-season game since Feb. 6, 2017 against Texas. They have won the Big 12 regular-season title in nine straight seasons.

In 2018-19, the Lady Bears won 15 of their 18 Big 12 matchups by double digits. The three close games — against Texas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia — all occurred on the road. While Texas was the last team to beat Baylor in the regular season, it is West Virginia who beat them most recently — having done so in the 2017 Big 12 Championship game.

This year, dropping one or two games is unlikely to unseat Baylor, but there are some teams that deserve everyone’s attention as the Big 12 teams vie for the regular-season and conference tournament titles.

Tournament bound?

Last season, West Virginia’s season ended in the third round of the WNIT. This season, West Virginia ended non-conference play with wins against two ranked opponents: Mississippi State and Michigan State.

Sitting at 10-1, the Mountaineers will need to keep up their outstanding play in the Big 12 if they want to return to the NCAA Tournament. Kysre Gondrezick, currently averaging 16.8 points, will be the player to watch throughout the rest of West Virginia’s season. She could make a case for Big 12 Player of the Year.

Sooners making a move

The Oklahoma Sooners are not necessarily impressive with a 7-5 record. However, coming off an 8-22 season last year, the Sooners may be in position to make the WNIT. At this point, the NCAA Tournament may be a stretch for a team that only won four conference games last season and, at five losses already in 2019-20, would need quite an impressive Big 12 campaign.

Ana Llanusa and Taylor Robertson bring optimism and plenty of buckets for Oklahoma. No matter the opponent, Oklahoma will be a tough out in every conference game.

Rock chalk?

The Kansas Jayhawks are 11-0. Although they only played against one Power 5 opponent, the Jayhawks are a team to watch. Kansas is two wins away from last season’s total of 13 wins, and conference play will be their chance to show off their improvements. The Jayhawks have 39 wins and just seven Big 12 victories in the last four seasons.

Kansas has six players, four starters and two bench players, who average double figures, showcasing their versatility. Senior Mariane De Carvalho, who averaged 5.3 points in her first season with Kansas after transferring from Highland Community College, is a full-time starter averaging 11.5 points this season and she can the dish the ball, too.

Kansas’ performance throughout the rest of the season should be a priority for all basketball fans.

Key Big 12 Matchups

Oklahoma State Cowgirls vs. Kansas Jayhawks

When: Saturday, Jan. 4, at 3:00 p.m. ET

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK

How to watch/listen: ESPN+

Keys to the matchup: Can Kansas keep their undefeated streak alive? Oklahoma State is 7-0 at home this season.

Oklahoma State Cowgirls vs. Oklahoma Sooners

When: Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK

How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Networks

Keys to the matchup: The Sooners have been a poor road team but feature a great scoring duo in Llanusa and Robertson. Junior Vivian Gray is averaging 19.3 points and will create a lot of pressure for the Sooners’ defense.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Longhorns

When: Sunday, Jan. 12, at 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV

How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Networks

Keys to the matchup: These two teams appear destined to battle for the No. 2 spot behind Baylor. This should be a good one.

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns

When: Tuesday Jan. 28, at 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OK

How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Oklahoma

Keys to the matchup: Oklahoma could not compete with Texas last year but both of these teams appear poised to finish in the top four of the conference.

Texas Longhorns vs. Baylor Bears

When: Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Frank C. Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, TX

How to watch/listen: Fox Sports 1

Keys to the matchup: Baylor nearly lost this matchup on the road last year. Texas is looking to challenge Big 12 royalty.