Kansas Jayhawks vs. Baylor Bears Prediction 2/22/20

by | Feb 22, 2020 | cbb

Kansas Jayhawks (23-3 SU, 16-9 ATS) vs. Baylor Bears (24-1 SU, 17-8 ATS)
When: Saturday, February 22, Noon
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas
TV: ESPN

Point Spread: KU +2/BAY -2 (Best Bonus)
Total: O/U 127.5

Last Time Out:

Kansas defeated Iowa State 91-71; Baylor handled Oklahoma 65-54.

Scouting the Jayhawks:

It’s tough to say that this year is a disappointment for Kansas, given that the Jayhawks have only lost one game in the conference and sit at 23-3, but those are the expectations that the Jayhawks have built under Bill Self in Lawrence. Kansas has dominated the Big 12 with the exception of Baylor, who is the only team in the league to best the Jayhawks and did it at Allen Fieldhouse by double digits.

Since that game, Kansas has stepped up its offense, but the defense hasn’t always followed. More often than not, Kansas has been fantastic on defense, but when the offense clicks, the Jayhawks haven’t held to their fundamentals on the defensive end of the court. But thanks to the play of Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett, and Udoka Azubuike, Kansas has been hard as heck to stop on offense, and opponents in the Big 12 haven’t been able to adjust. The Big 12 remains the exact opposite of its situation in football, where it can’t play defense but puts up points like nobody’s business. On the hardwood, defense dominates, and an offense like what Kansas has built has been difficult for anyone in the league to slow down.

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Scouting the Bears:

Nobody saw any of this coming for Baylor this season. The Bears were an afterthought at the start of the season, as they weren’t even considered the top team in their own state after Texas Tech’s run to the national championship game. But Baylor has made itself the No. 1 team in the nation by locking down on defense against virtually every squad that it’s played. The Bears tend not to score a lot of points, but they don’t need to when they defend as well as they do. Baylor has only broken 70 points in five of its last 14 games, but surprisingly, one of those came against West Virginia, despite missing Macio Teague, who has been the Bears’ leading scorer in six of their past nine games.

X-Factor:

Defense. Statistically, Kansas has the best defense in the country. If you’ve watched the Jayhawks’ past two games, you might not buy that because Kansas didn’t do much defending at all in their win over Iowa State. Baylor, on the other hand, has been nothing short of fantastic on defense as long as the opponent isn’t Oklahoma State. Other than the two wins over the Cowboys — the one team in the Big 12 that has been able to keep pace with the Bears — only Kansas State has managed to even hit 60 against Baylor’s fierce defense.

Kansas’ defense, on the other hand, has been strong when it’s wanted to be, but the Jayhawks haven’t always been consistent. When the Jayhawks face a lesser team, they’ve had no problems holding their score down, but when it’s been too easy for the offense, the Jayhawks tend to back off on the defense. That’s not likely to come up against Baylor, but it’s definitely a worry going into this matchup.

Kansas will Cover if:

The Jayhawks can take care of the basketball. Kansas did something it rarely does at home in the teams’ first meeting: it turned the ball over 14 times compared to Baylor’s five. Kansas cannot lose the turnover battle that badly and have any realistic hope at getting the job done in Waco. If the Jayhawks cost themselves possessions with mistakes, they’re going to struggle to get anything going, because possessions will not come easy at any point against Baylor.

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Baylor will Cover if:

The Bears can keep the Jayhawks from hitting 3-pointers. The Bears did a great job on the arc against Kansas in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks have to get that fixed to be able to hang with the Bears. Baylor’s 3-point defense is a big reason why it’s won all season long, and the Bears have to play tough defense to get a result for the second time this season.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

Defense is going to be the name of this game, and the Bears have been playing much better on the defensive side of the ball as of late than the Jayhawks have. Kansas has been doing a great job on offense in recent games, but there’s a big difference between the likes of Iowa State and Oklahoma and Baylor, which boasts the No. 3 defense in the nation and would love nothing better than to put itself in position to win the Big 12 title for the first time on its home floor.

That’s another thing to keep in mind here: Baylor has a chance to do something it has never done before by winning the Big 12. If the Bears win, they’ll essentially be three games up on Kansas with three to play, making it almost certain that they’d become the league champions. Kansas, meanwhile, has to get some help to pull off another Big 12 title, and the Jayhawks didn’t respond in this situation last year at Texas Tech.

I think Baylor is the better team, and this is Baylor’s time. Give me the Bears.