College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions | Kansas vs Baylor Betting Preview
Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Gradey Dick #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks
- Riding a two-fight skid, Kansas heads to Waco for a Big Monday matchup with Baylor.
- Baylor, meanwhile, recently edged Oklahoma for its fourth straight Big 12 victory.
- Below, Brad Cunningham explains why he's expecting the visiting underdogs to bounce back.
Kansas vs. Baylor Odds
Kansas travels to Waco for a huge clash on Big Monday with Baylor.
Kansas has now lost back-to-back games after starting the Big 12 with a 5-0 record. The Jayhawks were blown out in their own gym on Saturday, losing 83-60 to TCU, which was only their third loss of the season.
The Jayhawks are now behind their inner-state rival Kansas State in the conference standings, and a third straight loss would potentially drop them even further behind.
Baylor narrowly squeaked out a win over Oklahoma on Saturday, 62-60, to move to 4-3 in the Big 12. That marks the fourth straight win in conference play for the Bears after starting 0-3. This is a huge opportunity for Scott Drew’s team to improve its resume for March against a reeling Kansas team.
Kansas shot the ball very poorly against TCU on Saturday, going 23 of 59 from the field and shooting 42.1% from inside the arc. That was more of an anomaly than something of a larger issue because Kansas is one of the best offenses in the country, and it is actually due for some positive shooting regression.
A lot of that had to do with the Jayhawks’ best three-point shooter, Gradey Dick, who has been 3 of 16 from behind the arc over the last two games. He normally shoots 44% from behind the arc.
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) January 14, 2023
Everything in Kansas’ offense starts with the pick’n’roll. The Jayhawks are the sixth-highest pick’n’roll frequency team in the country and are putting up 1.01 PPP on those pick’n’roll sets. It’s why Jalen Wilson has become one of the most dangerous weapons in college basketball. He has ability to play as a smaller five who can also step out and knock down threes.
It’s what makes Kansas’ offense, at times, unguardable. However, when the shots aren’t falling, the Jayhawks can become a bit lost, especially if their opponent is good at defending pick’n’rolls.
The Jayhawks also live in transition. They’re a top-40 frequency team there. That will be big against Baylor, which has been very average at defending in transition.
Defensively, Kansas has been good this season despite its last two games. What the Jayhawks have done such a good job of is defending the three-point line. The Jayhawks are in the top 35 nationally in open three-point rate allowed, along with PPP allowed on both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble three-pointers, per ShotQuality.
The biggest thing in this matchup is Kansas is going to have to keep Baylor off the offensive glass. The Jayhawks are just average in terms of defensive rebounding percentage, so their defense could be in for a long night.
Baylor has turned its season around by winning four straight games in the Big 12 behind some incredible offensive performances. The Bears are now up to second in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and are doing it by shooting the lights out from the three-point range and dominating the offensive glass.
Baylor is taking three-pointers on 44.9% of their field goal attempts on offense, which is the 31st-highest rate in the country. And they are hitting a good percentage of them, averaging 36.2% from behind the arc. However, they are doing it without taking the best of shots or even getting a large number of open three-pointers.
image via ShotQuality
The bad news for them is Kansas is outstanding at defending the arc, which means they are going to have to take advantage of their second-chance opportunities and get to the free-throw line, which they do at an elite level.
The Baylor defense is very good at defending in the half-court. The Bears are allowing only 0.94 PPP, which is 10th in the country. The problem is they are very average when defending in transition, allowing 1.30 PPP, which is 130th in the nation. The game that is a good comparison is the game against TCU, which is the highest-frequency transition team in the country. In that game, Baylor allowed them to put up 88 points and 1.19 PPP.
Baylor is also pretty average at defending the three-point arc. The Bears are outside the top 120 in open-three-point rate allowed and field goal percentage allowed on both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble three pointers. Not good news when you are facing Gradey Dick.
Kansas vs. Baylor Betting Pick
This is the spot to back Kansas. Things are going all too well for Baylor at the moment, and there are some major concerns for them in this match. If the Bears aren’t able to shoot a high percentage from behind the arc, where most of their shots are coming from, against one of the best three-point defenses in the Big 12, then it’s going to be a long night.
If Kansas is able to get out in transition the way that TCU was able to do against Baylor, then the Jayhawks should be able to give Drew’s team a lot of problems.
Plus, Dick is not going to continue to shoot 18.8% from behind the arc like he has the past two games.
So, I like the value on Kansas at +2.5 (-115 at FanDuel) to end its two-game skid in Waco.
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