The defending NCAA college basketball champion Baylor Bears will host their Big 12 rivals, the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend for a huge game with March Madness implications.
Baylor and Kansas are ranked 10th and 5th, respectively and in their only meeting of the season, the Jayhawks won handily, taking down Baylor by 24 points in Kansas.
This is a brand new game with a fresh opportunity for both teams, though, and anything can happen in this heavyweight battle.
Breaking down both teams
Kansas basketball is used to being in these big spots, having appeared in the tournament every year since 1990, with the exception of the canceled tournament in 2020. That’s three decades of winning basketball.
Kansas has had its weak spots, however, dropping games against ranked opponents in No. 20 Texas, No. 9 Texas Tech and No. 6 Kentucky.
They’re 12-2 against the conference and have unsurprisingly been much better at home, going 14-1 compared to a 6-2 road record.
Kansas is led by veteran head coach Bill Self who has been with the Jayhawks since 2003, taking them to March Madness victory in 2008 and whose 545-122 career record speaks for itself.
Their leading scorer is guard Ochai Agbaji who is averaging 20.2 ppg and also leads the team in minutes. Guard Dajuan Harris Jr. also leads the team in both rebounds and assists per game with 7.2 and 4.2, respectively.
This is a Kansas Jayhawks squad that knows what it’s like to compete in March and they’re not only used to the spotlight, but want it.
On the Baylor Bears’ side, the defending champs are coming in as the underdog when it comes to the numbers; not by much though.
They’re 23-5 overall, compared to a 23-4 Kansas Jayhawks record and have an 11-4 record against the conference.
After coming off their first ever title, the Baylor Bears are back for more and not going anywhere. With home court they’ve been reliable, going 13-2 but have lost to every ranked opponent they’ve played other than No. 8 Villanova who they beat at home and held to just 36 points.
Head coach Scott Drew has also been at his post since 2003, where he’s led Baylor to an impressive 413-230 regular season record and a 17-8 record in tournament games as well as national title most recently.
Their leading scorer is guard Adam Flagler who is averaging just 13.7. Meanwhile guard James Akinjo is leading the team in both assists and steals.
The numbers favor the Jayhawks, but in a game of this magnitude, you can’t trust the numbers. This is a huge Big 12 grudge match and the Baylor Bears will want revenge on their home court.
As March Madness ramps up, this is a huge game for both teams to establish dominance in the conference and whoever wins this game will lead the Big 12 with just two regular season games left to go.
Although the Jayhawks easily took down the Bears earlier in the season, this will not be a cakewalk by any means. Baylor is nothing to be scoffed at, and their record at home compared to Kansas’ record on the road should be a sign that Baylor has a good shot to win on Saturday.
Either team winning will likely establish themselves as the top seed in their conference as the regular season ends and Big 12 tournament begins.
The numbers and previous matchup says take the Jayhawks, but throw that all away.
Baylor will come out firing on all cylinders at home and this is a revenge game for them.
The Bears will take this one by at least seven and this’ll allow them to finish the season atop the Big 12.
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