CBB Picks: Kansas Jayhawks vs. Baylor Bears
Kansas Jayhawks (10-3 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Baylor Bears (12-0 SU, 10-2 ATS)
When: Monday, January 18, 9 p.m.
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas
Point Spread: KU +9/BAY -9 (Find the best sportsbooks >>> Grab a 100% real cash bonus or start only having to lay -105 odds instead of -110! Worth the time spent!)
Last Time Out:
Kansas lost 75-70 to Oklahoma State; Baylor beat Texas Tech 68-60.
About the Matchup:
Here’s something that almost seems unthinkable: Kansas is falling out of the Big 12 race before the end of January. But that’s precisely what could happen if the Jayhawks can’t pull an upset here because a loss in Waco would place Kansas three games behind Baylor and two games behind Texas, a deficit that might be insurmountable given how well the Bears and Longhorns have played this season.
For Baylor, there’s a measure of revenge on their minds, as well as the chance to finish what it started a year ago. The Bears were in the midst of boat racing the Big 12 last season, as they won their first 13 games in the league and looked pretty good doing it. But then Kansas came to Waco and left with a 64-61 lead, and the Bears lost something that afternoon. Baylor went just 2-2 down the stretch that season and had the NCAA tournament been played, the Bears might have been a second-round shocker instead of the Final Four squad they appeared to be.
But Baylor hasn’t lost in Waco since that day, and only Texas Tech has managed to stay within 10 points of the Bears this season. Can the Bears continue their dominance at the Ferrell Center and really put the Jayhawks behind the eight-ball?
Scouting the Jayhawks:
A Bill Self squad that doesn’t know how to finish games is not a situation that happens very often. But that’s exactly what happened in Stillwater, as Oklahoma State scored the final seven points in the final 72 seconds and stole a victory to drop Kansas to 4-2 in the Big 12.
The Jayhawks have had the same problems all year long: Marcus Garrett simply isn’t having a good senior season. Garrett was injured in the loss to Texas, but he combined to score just 19 points against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which forced running mate Ochai Agbaji to spend far too much time on the 3-point arc. The Jayhawks shot just 23.8 percent from deep against the Cowboys, which left them open to blowing the lead down the stretch.
The hard reality with this Kansas team is that it’s too dependent on hitting from outside. When the Jayhawks sink their shots, as they did against West Virginia, they’re virtually unbeatable, but when they aren’t hitting, they’re in trouble. Given that Baylor has held all but two opponents under 70 points, that could be a problem.
Scouting the Bears:
When it comes to defense, nobody has done it better than Baylor. The Bears have been the stingiest team in the nation, allowing just 86.5 points per every 100 possessions. What makes the Bears so dangerous is they’re one of the few teams that can put four guards on the floor and have depth behind them, as Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell are all genuine scorers who can take over a game at any time.
What Baylor doesn’t have is a genuine big man who can go up against David McCormack and Jalen Wilson inside. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Flo Thomba both have the bodies to deal with the Jayhawks’ inside game, but neither plays for more than 21 minutes a game, and if one or both gets in foul trouble, the Bears will look like a high school team compared to Kansas’ size. Baylor’s guards have been so good at moving the ball and hitting shots that the Bears’ potential rebounding issues haven’t come into play yet this season, but if the day comes when the Baylor guards aren’t hitting, the Bears could be in peril.
Defense. Realistically, the only way to beat Baylor is to play defense well enough to keep the Bears’ guards from getting good shots. Baylor is not strong inside, which means that if Kansas can force rebounds by forcing the Baylor guards to shoot from less-than-ideal angles, McCormack and Wilson can take over the contest.
That’s much easier said than done. Kansas’ defense frustrated Baylor last year and held the Bears to 39.7 percent from the floor in Waco, but last year’s Jayhawks also had a two-way weapon named Devon Dotson, who’s now wearing a Chicago Bulls uniform. There’s no doubt that the four starting Baylor guards remember that they shot 14-for-41 against Kansas last year, and they’d love to erase that memory and break their two-year streak of losing to the Jayhawks at home.
Kansas will Cover If:
The Jayhawks pound away inside and force one of the Baylor forwards to the bench. Baylor’s four-guard lineup is only effective as long as it has that inside presence to prevent opponents from dominating in the paint, and if Kansas can get Tchamwa Tchatchoua or Thomba in foul trouble, Baylor really doesn’t have a Plan C.
Baylor will Cover If:
The Bears can get open shots. The advantage of the four-guard lineup is there’s always likely to be someone open because opposing defenses just aren’t quick enough to keep a man on all four options, and the Bears know they can count on their defense to stop Kansas from hitting shots from deep. If Baylor can shoot better than 45 percent, it’s hard to see the Jayhawks keeping up with this offense.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
The Ferrell Center has been a home away from home for the past two years for Kansas, but the party likely ends here. This Baylor team is too good, and the Jayhawks don’t have Dotson or Udoka Azubuike to frustrate the Baylor guards and limit them to one shot per trip.
It’s weird taking a team to cover nine points against the likes of Kansas, but this Baylor team is that good. Give me the Bears. Bet your college basketball picks FREE this week by taking advantage of a 100% real cash bonus offer on your first deposit of $100 to $300 at MyBookie Sportsbook! (Must use bonus code PREDICT100)