Kansas vs. Baylor College Basketball Odds, Picks, Preview: Can Bears Make Statement at Home? (Saturday, February 26)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: James Akinjo.
- The Kansas Jayhawks (23-4) travel to the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas to face the Baylor Bears (23-5) in Saturday night's top-10, Big 12 basketball showdown.
- Revenge will no doubt be on Baylor's minds after the Jayhawks thoroughly dismantled the Bears in a 83-59 win earlier this season.
- Our college basketball betting analyst Anthony Dabbundo breaks down tonight's game and advises you how to bet tonight's monumental matchup.
Kansas vs. Baylor Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Kansas has a two-game lead on the rest of the Big 12 and is on its way to another regular season conference title, but the Jayhawks have their toughest test yet in league play on Saturday in Waco against Baylor.
The Bears lost by 24 in Lawrence in early February in a game that was over after the first 10 minutes. Fresh off an embarrassing home loss to Kentucky the week prior, Kansas blitzed Baylor in transition and hit a ton of 3-pointers to grab an early 15-point lead. Instead of mounting a comeback, Baylor’s deficit widened in the second half as the Jayhawks won 83-59.
Everyone is counting out Baylor of the national title conversation after the loss of Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, the Bears’ leading offensive rebounder and one of their experienced returners from last season’s title team. But except for a blip in conference play early in on, Baylor has been pretty dominant in Waco and will want revenge for its last loss in this spot.
The Bears have rolled over Texas and TCU at home in the last few weeks, even while dealing with all of the injuries. They still may not have LJ Cryer back from injury for this game, but Adam Flagler and James Akinjo should be 100%, and if so, the number isn’t showing enough respect for the Bears here.
Kansas has posted three straight impressive victories against the softest portion of its schedule in the last three games. Dominant wins at home against Oklahoma State, at West Virginia and home against Kansas State were nice wins, but they all came against the three worst teams in the league who have little to no shot at the NCAA Tournament.
The Jayhawks have an impressive 12-2 record in the league, but the record flatters the Jayhawks a bit when you consider just how many close wins they have: two wins against Oklahoma by a combined five points, Iowa State by two, Kansas State on the road by three in a comeback. The Jayhawks easily could have lost one or two close games, maybe more when you consider their 2OT win at home against Texas Tech.
The main reason for the inconsistency for the Jayhawks has been their defense. Kansas has a ShotQuality defensive ranking of just 47th, while its SQ record is five games worse than its actual 23-4 record. The Jayhawks rank 114th defensively at finishing at the rim and 117th in transition defense, per ShotQuality.
Baylor can exploit the defense on both fronts, as the Bears are one of the most efficient offenses in the country in transition and have guards and wings that can get to the rim at will. While Baylor prefers to shoot from the perimeter and can absolutely succeed there, it should be able to get to the rim with more success too.
Baylor really struggled on the road on Monday night and needed an overtime to get past Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ physicality is a tough matchup for Baylor as they beat it in Waco and then nearly won at home in Stillwater. Baylor survived that road test but has been considerably better at home in the league this season. All three of the Bears’ recent losses came away from Waco.
The Bears weren’t able to establish themselves on the offensive glass in the first meeting between these two teams, but there’s no reason you wouldn’t expect them to get second-chance looks here. Baylor is third in the country in offensive rebounding rate, and the Jayhawks struggle to defend the glass and are prone to conceding second-chance looks.
Baylor’s season-long metrics are hurt by injuries that have been in and out of its main lineup. Between Sochan, Cryer, Flagler and Akinjo, few teams have had to mix and match rotations more than Scott Drew. This is a chance for Baylor to make a statement victory at home in a revenge spot and show that it’s finally getting healthy.
Kansas has allowed just 27% from 3 in league play, which is pretty unsustainably low as well. Given that Baylor’s offense generates a ton of open 3s and has a lot of good shooters, it just might be the offense to hit shots against the Jayhawks defense that few teams have punished this year.
Most of the Big 12 is poor at shooting from deep, but Kansas’ defense might just regress against the league’s third-best 3-point shooting squad.
Kansas vs. Baylor Betting Pick
It would be easy to overreact to the blowout victory by Kansas in Lawrence and assume that the Jayhawks will be able to take care of business in Waco as well. But there’s nothing in the matchup or how that game played out that suggests it wasn’t just a great bounce-back spot for KU at home against a Baylor team that was getting players back from injury.
Baylor will want revenge and a chance to make a statement as its team gets healthy at home. Kansas has already all but clinched the league title (and can do so with a pair of wins against TCU this week), while the Bears should be all-in for this hype home spot.
From a matchup perspective, Baylor should have fewer turnovers on home court and can absolutely exploit Kansas’ overrated defense in this game. Baylor has its issues, but Kansas doesn’t defend the rim or rebound well enough for me to believe it’s really a better team than a fully healthy Baylor in this spot.
I wouldn’t lay more than a possession in what could be a tight game, but I’d play Baylor at 3 or better in the spot.
Pick: Baylor -3 or better
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