Baylor Bears vs. Kansas Jayhawks Pick 1/11/20
Baylor Bears (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (12-2 SU, 8-6 ATS)
When: Saturday, January 11, 1 p.m.
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan
Point Spread: BAY +8 /KU -8 (Best Bonus)
Total: O/U 130.5
Last Time Out:
Baylor edged Texas Tech 57-52; Kansas slammed Iowa State 79-53.
Scouting the Bears:
Is Baylor ready to play in this game? The Bears have run their record to 12-1 with their 11th straight victory, and the Bears have done it with defense. Over their past seven games, the Bears have held six opponents to fewer than 60 points, and the only one to break 60 was Tennessee-Martin in a match that Baylor won by 28.
But this is the kind of game that the Bears had trouble with all season last year, as they lost twice to Kansas and landed in the 8/9 game as a result of their inability to win these contests, which led to their second-round exit. The Bears are going to have to get more offense from someone besides Jared Butler and MaCio Teague to get a positive result against the Jayhawks. Butler and Teague are the Bears’ only scorers in double figures, and that’s not going to be enough against a Kansas squad that’s pretty stingy and can dominate down low. The Bears really need to get more out of Freddie Gillespie, who serves as their main man in the low post.
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Scouting the Jayhawks:
Can the Jayhawks regain their Big 12 crown with a patchwork lineup that relies on four key players and a host of other players in the No. 5 spot? Well, if Kansas can shoot as well as it did in Ames, probably. The Jayhawks were outstanding from behind the arc against the Cyclones, hitting 52 percent and even getting a 5-for-6 free-throw performance from Udoka Azubuike, which is about as likely as a team hitting 80 percent from 3-point range.
Those factors probably aren’t sustainable, but what is sustainable for Kansas is Azubuike dominating down low and Devon Dotson getting the job done with the jump shot. If Kansas follows that formula and can minimize its turnovers, which it did well against Iowa State, it’s going to win a lot of games.
Mentality. Where is it going to be after the matchups that Kansas and Baylor just faced? Kansas faced West Virginia on Sunday, and Baylor is coming off a game against Texas Tech, two of the most challenging defenses in the Big 12. While the Bears and Jayhawks each came away with a win, facing those opponents is like having water dripped on your head for 40 minutes, and the follow-up can be fairly liberating if the teams choose.
However, both these teams are fairly defensive-oriented themselves, so this might not turn into a free-flowing game. Kansas, in particular, has shown an affinity for the defense this season, as Dayton is the only team to break 70 against the Jayhawks, who have held five straight opponents to under 60.
Baylor will Cover if:
The Bears can forget their horrible history in Lawrence and simply play. Baylor has never won a game at Allen Fieldhouse, with an all-time mark of 0-15 since joining the conference in 1996. Truth be told, the Bears haven’t done much winning against Kansas no matter where the game is played, as they’ve lost 13 of 14 to the Jayhawks and are 5-32 all-time against Kansas. Too often, teams are beaten against Kansas in Lawrence before they even step on the court, which is one reason the Jayhawks are riding a 26-game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse. Baylor has to be mentally tough enough to deal with the Phog.
Kansas will Cover if:
The Jayhawks get Azubuike going down low. Baylor doesn’t have a presence who can measure up to the likes of Azubuike, even if Gillespie steps up his game and becomes a force inside. Azubuike is just on another level, and in a game where defense is likely to be critical, the big man is going to have to be a big part of what the Jayhawks are doing. Dotson will get his points, but Azubuike is the one player that Baylor doesn’t have the personnel to stop.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
There’s no way that I’m going to ignore the fact that Baylor has lost 15 in a row in Lawrence and hasn’t won a game like this in quite a while. The Bears have a glittering record, but other than the trip to Lubbock, all of Baylor’s winning has either come at home or on a neutral floor. The Bears showed they could handle a road test at Texas Tech, but winning at Texas Tech isn’t the same as winning at Kansas.
Baylor’s been winning ugly for a little while now, and while that’s going to go a long way in impressing the selection committee, it isn’t going to go far in getting me to choose the Bears over the Jayhawks. The first rule of betting on college basketball is that if Kansas is playing at home, betting against the Jayhawks is generally a very bad idea unless you have a really good reason to do it.
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