Third-ranked Kansas can take another huge step toward garnering its 13th straight regular season Big 12 championship Saturday afternoon when it travels to Baylor. A win over the No. 4-ranked Bears, who enter the game in sole possession of second place, would give the Jayhawks a three-game lead with just four games to go.
It doesn’t figure to be easy, however, for Bill Self and Co., who trailed 34-28 at halftime in the first meeting at Allen Fieldhouse and needed a pair of Frank Mason III free throws with a second to go to clinch a nip-and-tuck 73-68 victory Feb. 1. Baylor fans have had the rematch circled ever since, and students were allowed to begin camping outside the Ferrell Center starting at 5 p.m. on Friday night to get the best seats for the contest. The Bears, who like the Jayhawks are currently ranked as a No. 1 seed by the NCAA Selection Committee, can close to within one game of first place with a victory. “If Baylor is successful, then it’s anyone’s game,” Self said. “And if we were to play well down there and be fortunate enough to win, it would look like it would be a pretty significant hill to climb for the others.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: Baylor opened as 1.5-point home favorites against their Big 12 rivals and that line has risen to an even 2 overnight. The total hit the board at 144.5 and has yet to move off that number. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: ““Kansas will look to avoid another close finish. Their last five wins have come by six points or less. For Baylor, a recent slide has put their chances for a top seed in doubt. They’ll need to step up big today to remain in the hunt for a top seed.” – Covers Expert Zack Cimini
Kansas – C Udoka Azubuike (Out for season, wrist)
Baylor – G Al Freeman (Eligibility suspension)
ABOUT KANSAS (23-3 SU, 7-16-1 ATS, 11-13 O/U): The 5-11 Mason is a strong candidate for national player of the year honors, leading the Big 12 in scoring (20.2) including a 20.7 average in conference play, while also shooting a league best 50.9 percent from 3-point range and averaging 4.9 assists per contest. Lanky 6-8 freshman guard Josh Jackson is showing why he’s is considered a high NBA lottery pick, ranking second on the team in scoring (16.5) while also leading the Jayhawks in rebounding (7.2), steals (1.8) and blocks (1.1). Junior guards Devonte’ Graham (13.2 points) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10.5) also are averaging in double figures and are dangerous 3-point shooters, something that should come in handy against Baylor’s zone defense.
ABOUT BAYLOR (22-4 SU, 12-9 ATS, 7-13-1 O/U): Johnathan Motley, a 6-10 junior forward who is also in the conversation for Big 12 and national player of the year honors, leads the team in scoring (16.7) and the Big 12 in rebounding (9.5) and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting at Kansas. Junior point guard Manu Lecomte is second in scoring (12.8) and leads the team in assists (4.1) while connecting on a team best 58-of-136 3-pointers (42.6 percent) while 7-foot junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. has been a force inside, averaging 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and Big 12-leading 2.7 blocks per game. Junior guard Al Freeman, who ranks fourth on the team in scoring (9.1) and is 32-of-90 beyond the arc, will return to action after serving a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules, but sophomore King McClure will still get the start.
* Jayhawks are 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. Big 12.
* Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Jayhawks last 8 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Bears last 8 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Under is 6-1-1 in the last 8 meetings.
Check out the complete list of hot and cold trends here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 56 percent of Covers users are siding with the road underdog Kansas Jayhawks and Over is picking up 51 percent of the totals wagers. Click here for complete consensus data.