Big 12 Battle: Kansas at Baylor

Kansas dominated Baylor 83-59 earlier this month when they squared off in Lawrence.

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Baylor Bears

Line: Baylor -3

Total: 149

Where: Ferrell Center

When: Saturday, 2/26 at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

No. 5 Kansas can virtually wrap up another Big 12 regular-season title with a win on Saturday night.

Standing in the way of the Jayhawks is No. 10 Baylor, which will be looking for revenge after getting blown out at Kansas earlier this month. The Bears are two games back of Kansas in the conference standings, so they can cut that deficit in half with a win on Saturday.

The Jayhawks have been dominant in this series, winning 16 of the last 19 meetings. They have covered the spread in seven of their last eight trips to the Ferrell Center. Kansas has also covered the spread in four of the last five head-to-head meetings overall, including the 83-59 win as a 2.5-point favorite on Feb. 5.

Offshore sportsbook BetOnline opened Baylor as a 3.5-point favorite for the rematch, while the total opened at 150.5. The first meeting narrowly went ‘under’ the total of 144.5.

As of late this morning, the Bears were down to -3 and the total had dipped to 149 points.

Baylor has bounced back from that loss with wins in four of its last five games, including a 66-64 victory in overtime at Oklahoma State on Monday night. The Bears have not lost a home game since falling to Oklahoma State in the first meeting on Jan. 15.

Kansas followed its win over Baylor with a 79-76 loss at then-No. 20 Texas. The Jayhawks have responded with a four-game winning streak over unranked opponents, covering the spread in three of those wins.

They have been one of the best offensive teams in college basketball this season, ranked fourth in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. Their effective field goal percentage is No. 11, while their offensive rebounding percentage is No. 28. However, their turnover and free throw issues could pose a problem in a hostile environment.

Kansas is without preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Remy Martin for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. Martin had not lived up to expectations, but he was still averaging 8.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Senior guard Ochai Agbaji is pouring in a team-high 20.2 points per game, while guard Christian Braun is adding 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Forwards Jalen Wilson and David McCormack are combining for more than 20 points and 14 rebounds per game. They will be facing a Baylor defense that is No. 15 in adjusted efficiency.

The Bears have had some issues on the defensive glass, but they rank fifth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. They are No. 9 in overall offensive efficiency, led by guard Adam Flagler. He is scoring 13.7 points and dishing out 3.1 assists per game.

Sophomore guard LJ Cryer, who is the team’s second-leading scorer, has only played in one game since Jan. 25. He is listed as ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s game due to his lingering foot injury. The Bears are already without leading rebounder Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Senior guard James Akinjo is averaging 12.9 points and a team-high 5.7 assists per game. He is facing a Kansas defense that is No. 31 in adjusted efficiency.

Baylor has been unable to overcome its injury issues of late, covering the spread in two of its last eight games. Kansas and Baylor have gone ‘under’ the total in four of their last five head-to-head meetings.

The pick: Baylor -3

This is the type of game where Martin’s absence shows up for Kansas. The Jayhawks have plenty of scoring options, but they are going to miss Martin’s veteran presence on the road in a hostile environment. Baylor’s effort has shown up on both ends of the court, as it ranks No. 12 in defensive turnover rate and No. 5 in offensive rebounding percentage. The Bears are going to be hungry for revenge after a poor showing in Lawrence earlier this month. They have won 18 of their last 20 home games and could be getting Cryer back on the court for this game. McCormack has been battling a foot issue, which could be detrimental to Kansas on the defensive glass. I like Baylor’s chances to feed off the crowd in a revenge spot on Saturday night.

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