Kansas (23-3, 11-2) at Baylor (22-4, 9-4)
When: Saturday, February 18th 2017
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, TX
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: CBS
The Kansas Jayhawks can take another step toward a 13th straight regular season Big 12 title when they visit the fourth-ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday afternoon. Kansas is coming off a remarkable 84-80 overtime victory over West Virginia on Monday and can go up three games in the conference standings with four to go by beating Baylor. Kansas 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 back-and-forth 73-68 victory on February 1st. The diminutive 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% from 3-point range and averaging 4.9 assists. 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 solid 3-point shooters. Kansas leads the series 28-4 and has won the last nine meetings.
Baylor is in sole possession of second place in the Big 12 and the fans have been waiting all week for this matchup. Students were allowed to begin camping outside the Ferrell Center starting at 5 p.m. on Friday night to get the best seats for this. Johnathan Motley, a 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 conference in rebounding (9.5). Motley finished scored 16 points and grabbed 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 42.6% 3-pointers. Junior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. has been solid 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 from long range, 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. Baylor is 14-1 at the Ferrell Center this season with the lone loss coming against Kansas State (56-54) on February 4th.
Kansas has been flirting with losses for the past month, but seem to keep pulling them out. When Baylor gets rolling, they’re hard to stop and I think being at home will be the deciding factor. I like Baylor in this one.
Pick: Baylor -2
HEAD TO HEAD