The No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks take on the No. 1 Baylor Bears in arguably the most anticipated regular-season college basketball game of the season. ESPN’s Pregame Matchup Quality metric agrees as the 99.0 out of 100 rating ranks this matchup the best game in the sport this season. In the NCAA tournament committee’s early bracket released on February 8th, Baylor and Kansas were the No. 1 and No. 2 overall seeds respectively. The two teams are a combined 22-0 since their first meeting in early January. Baylor can take a huge step towards securing the regular-season conference title with a win. Defeating the Jayhawks would give the Bears a two-game lead with four games to play. Should Kansas win, they would move into a first-place tie with Baylor.
- Opening Line: Baylor -1.5 (at FanDuel)
- Current Line: Baylor -2
- O/U: 128.5
- Location: Ferrell Center, Waco, TX
- Start Time: 12:00 PM ET- February 22nd, 2020
- Last Meeting: January 11th, 2020- #4 Baylor def. #3 Kansas 67-55
The Kansas Jayhawks (23-3, 12-1 conf) enter this game on an 11-game winning streak since their home loss to Baylor. They have won each of their conference road games by at least nine points. They rank No. 1 in the RPI, No. 4 in the NET, and No. 1 in strength of schedule. In addition, they have a whopping 10 Quadrant 1 wins.
The Jayhawks are one of three teams in the country that rank in the top 10 in terms of both offensive and defensive efficiency. They struggle mightily from the foul line, as their 66.7% ranks 296th in D-1. Their three-point shooting has improved much of late. Just two weeks ago they ranked 138th in the country with a 33.9 three-point shooting percentage. Now they are shooting 35.1% from three which ranks 74th. Kansas has been dominant all year on the defensive end. They rank second in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and fourth in effective field goal percentage. They rank at the top in the conference in nearly every statistical defensive category except for turnover percentage. The Jayhawks force opponents to turn the ball over on just 18.9% of possessions, which is good for ninth in the Big 12.
The Baylor Bears (24-1, 13-0 conf) set a Big 12 conference record with their 23rd consecutive win in their last game. The Bears have held the No. 1 rank in the AP Poll for five straight weeks. That matches the longest such streak by any team since Kentucky in 2015. It has been nine games since Baylor trailed in the second half. The last instance when Baylor trailed after halftime was at Oklahoma State when they were losing with 3 ½ minutes to go. The Bears are ranked No. 2 in the NET, No. 2 in the RPI, and are a perfect 10-1 against Quadrant 1 opponents.
Much like Kansas, Baylor is also an elite defensive team. They rank third in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency. They are third in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 58.2 points per game. The Bears allow opponents to shoot just 42.4% on two-point attempts. They rebound 36.5% of their own misses, good for fifth in the country. They also rank in the top five nationally in points allowed per possession.
- Baylor is 17-8 ATS this season.
- The Bears are 6-6 at home ATS.
- Kansas is 16-10 ATS this season.
- The Jayhawks are 10-3 ATS on the road.
- Kansas is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games at Baylor.
- The under has hit in 7 of Baylor’s 12 home games.
- The under has cashed in 11 of Kansas’s 13 road games.
In the first meeting between these two teams, there was a stark difference in three-point shooting. Baylor shot 8-19 (42.1%) from three, while Kansas was just 4-15 (26.7%) from long range. In addition, Kansas committed 14 turnovers compared to Baylor’s five. Jayhawks point guard Devon Dotson was limited to just 28 minutes after leaving for a long stretch with a hip injury. In that game, Kansas coach Bill Self started two big men as David McCormack played alongside Udoka Azubuike. However, Self has utilized a smaller lineup of late. He has surrounded Azubuike with more shooters which is likely a major factor in the rise of their shooting percentages.
Baylor fans are wondering about the status of second-leading scorer MaCio Teague. Teague (14.4 PPG) has missed the last two games with a wrist injury. His status against the Jayhawks remains uncertain. Before he got hurt, Teague had scored at least 15 points in six straight games. In the first matchup against Kansas, Teague scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. If any team is built to win without one of their star guards, it is Baylor. The Bears beat West Virginia and Oklahoma each by 11 points without him. In his absence, guards Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and Devonte Bandoo have more than filled the void.
This matchup is going to come down to two key things. First, I believe in Bill Self to make more of the necessary adjustments in the rematch than Baylor coach Scott Drew. Baylor causes a ton of problems defensively with how they can switch ball screens anywhere on the floor. However, look for Kansas to smarten up and know which Baylor defenders are more susceptible than others. Bandoo is a much worse defender than Mitchell, for example, and I look for Self to exploit the matchups where he has an advantage. In addition, the four-guard lineup he has been using is much harder to defend than the traditional two-big lineup Kansas used in the first game.
The second key to this game will be the environment. This is the most anticipated home game in Baylor history. ESPN’s College Gameday show is getting in on the festivities and will be live from Waco before tip-off. However, I believe this could have an adverse effect on the Bears. All week long on campus they have had to deal with the hype of the game and the distractions that come with it. Meanwhile, Kansas has enough veterans to be able to handle a tough road environment, just as they have all year. Udoka Azubuike was held to just six points in the first meeting and Devon Dotson was limited by injury. I don’t see either of these things repeating, which is why Kansas +2 is the right side.