As the regular season comes to a close, several teams continue to fight for conference superiority. One game to look out for is the top-five match up between Kansas (third in the AP poll) and Baylor (fourth). Both teams already played each other once, with Kansas emerging victorious 73-68.
Big 12 Powers
Kansas and Baylor are first and second in the Big 12, respectively. Kansas lost its first game of the season against Indiana in overtime, but has since rebounded to a 23-3 record. Baylor won its first 15 games and posts a 22-4 record.
Kansas and winning are synonymous with each other especially when it comes to the Big 12. The Jayhawks have won 12 straight Big 12 regular-season titles and can certainly make it a 13th straight especially with players like Frank Mason III (20.2 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and Josh Jackson (16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists.)
#kubball faces second top-10 team this week, traveling to 4⃣ Baylor on Saturday (Noon, CBS)
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) February 17, 2017
However, if there’s one team that can end Kansas’ reign, it’s Baylor. The Bears have one of the best big men in the Big 12 in Jonathan Motley. The junior forward has carried his team with 16.7 points a game and 9.5 rebounds which leads all conference players. Motley had a fantastic game in Baylor’s loss to Kansas, posting a double-double with 16 points on 63.6 percent shooting and 10 rebounds.
While both Kansas and Baylor have been enjoying successful seasons, both teams have relied on different strengths. While Kansas has been above-average defensively (29th in defensive efficiency*), it has been stellar offensively (6th in offensive efficiency*). The Jayhawks are averaging 83.5 points per game which is 17th in the country while shooting 48.9 percent from the field which is 14th in the country. They’re also a fantastic team from deep, converting 41.3 percent of their three-point attempts which is fifth in the country.
Likewise, the Bears are above-average offensively (23rd in offensive efficiency*) but fantastic defensively (6th in defensive efficiency*). Baylor is allowing 62.2 points per game which is 12th in the country and allows its opponents to make only 39.1 percent of their field goal attempts which is 13th in the country.
*Efficiency stats based on Kenpom.
Barring major collapses and other circumstances, it’s obvious both these teams are going dancing. When comparing their resumes, both appear to pass several tests. They’re both ranked in the top 2 of ESPN’s RPI list (Baylor number one, Kansas number two). Both teams have several wins against top-100 RPI teams and both have played respectable schedules (Baylor Strength of Schedule fourth, Kansas 16th). If there’s one thing that’s going against both teams, it’s the fact that a Big 12 program has not won the national championship since Kansas won it back in 2008.
The game will start Saturday at 1:00 p.m. on CBS.