Big Monday is back in a big way, as the No. 2 Baylor Bears host the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks in a Big 12 showdown. The Bears are nine-point home favorites with the over/under set at 140.5 points. Tip-off is at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.
The 10-3 Jayhawks are coming to a bit of a crossroads. Their scheduled game against Iowa State this past weekend was postponed, so Kansas’ last game was a loss to Oklahoma State last week. Bill Self’s team has lost two of its previous four games, including the embarrassing 84-59 blowout loss to Texas. If the Jayhawks hope to win another Big 12 regular-season title, this could be a must-win game.
Meanwhile, Baylor remains undefeated this season at 12-0. The Bears have been as good as advertised this season and are very much in the conversation with Gonzaga as the best team in the country. With two other Top 10 teams in the Big 12, it won’t be easy for the Bears to run away with the Big 12 regular-season title, making Monday’s game an important proving ground for them.
All the Pieces
Baylor is one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, averaging better than 87 points per game. The Bears have a spectacular backcourt with Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell, all averaging at least 12 points per game.
The Bears also have three more players who average at least eight points per game, giving them a balanced attack despite having so much star power. It also helps that four of their top five scorers all shoot better than 40% from the perimeter.
The beauty of Baylor is in their unselfishness. Both Butler and Mitchell average better than five assists per game. The Bears rank in the Top 10 nationally in assists, spreading the ball around better than the average team and playing unselfish basketball. When you consider that only one opponent has reached the 70-point mark against Baylor this season, it’s easy to see why the Bears are undefeated.
Too Much and Never Enough
There’s little doubt that the Jayhawks have enough pieces to be national championship contenders. However, consistency has been an issue for far too many key players.
It starts with big man David McCormack, who’s been too unreliable and prone to foul trouble this season, at times forcing the Jayhawks to play a smaller lineup. Meanwhile, standout freshman Jalen Wilson has failed to reach double figures in back-to-back games, including just four points in the team’s loss to Oklahoma State.
It’s a similar situation in the backcourt. Despite his defensive prowess, Marcus Garrett has not blossomed into a consistent scorer at the offensive end. Sharpshooter Christian Braun also runs hot and cold, averaging 10 points per game on the season but just 6.5 points per game in his last four games.
The Jayhawks also aren’t getting much out of freshman Bryce Thompson. As a result, so much pressure has fallen on the shoulders of Ochai Agbaji, who has to carry the team when others fail to step up.
Better Balance Takes It
The Jayhawks lack the consistency we’ve seen from the Bears, and they don’t have enough elite defenders to check all of Baylor’s scoring threats. Bet on the Bears to dominate once again and cover the nine-point spread.
Free Pick: Baylor Bears (-9).