The #1 Baylor Bears (24-1) have a 23-game winning streak on the line when they host the #3 Kansas Jayhawks (23-3) in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. This showdown between two of the best teams in college basketball also has postseason consequences. The winner of Baylor/Kansas, which has been dubbed the Game of the Year, will most likely end up with the #1 overall seed by the March Madness selection committee.
Baylor defeated Kansas 67-55 when the two best teams in the Big 12 met earlier this season (before Baylor became #1 in the AP Top 25 Poll). The 12-point road victory marked the first time Baylor beat Kansas on their home court at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in 18 previous failed attempts. Baylor’s Jared Butler led all scorers with 22 points, and MaCio Teague added 16 for the Bears in the victory. Kansas lost their best player to an injury when Devon Dotson tweaked his oblique muscle.
Baylor now attempts to sweep Kansas in the regular season for the first time in school history, but Kansas comes to Waco looking to avenge the loss.
“The pressure is on us for us to go down there and perform well,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “It will be the best on-paper college basketball game of the year. It’s a #1 versus #3 matchup late in the season. It doesn’t mean that it will be the best game, but certainly going into it, there won’t be any better-looking game.”
Kansas will have their best player, Dotson, available for the rematch. However, Baylor will wait until tip-off to determine MaCio Teague’s availability. The guard missed the last two games with a wrist injury.
Kansas and Baylor are among the Top 8 best defenses in college basketball. Baylor allows only 58.2 points per game, which is third-best in the nation. Kansas’ defense allows 60.7 points per game, which is ranked #8 overall.
Baylor: Unbeatable Bears
Baylor has an unbeaten home record and a 23-game win streak on the line against Kansas in the Game of the Year. After losing to Washington in the second game of the season at the Great Alaskan Shootout in Anchorage, Baylor won 23 consecutive games. The Bears recently set a Big 12 record for most consecutive victories with a win over Oklahoma.
“You never thought something like that would be broken with the Big 12, the way it’s been the last how many years,” said head coach Scott Drew. “Everybody is good, and everybody beats everybody.”
Drew installed a “no middle” defense at Baylor that is very similar to what Texas Tech ran last year during their deep run to the Final Four. Opposing offenses struggled to crack Baylor’s stifling defense all season. The Bears held opponents to 55 points or fewer in 11 games this season. Baylor kept their last three opponents under 60 points, including shutting down Texas and holding them to 45 points.
It’s been a good year for Baylor in Waco this season, with a 14-0 home record at the Ferrell Center. Baylor is 17-8 ATS this season. They’re 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games. The under hit in 13 out of Baylor’s previous 16 games.
Top Scorers: G Jared Butler (15.6 ppg), G MaCio Teague (14.4 ppg)
Key Wins: Kansas, West Virginia, Villanova, Arizona, Butler, Texas Tech
Kansas: The Dotson and Azubuike Show
Since the ugly brawl with Kansas State, Kansas won eight in a row. They have an 11-game win streak on the line heading into Waco. They won every game since losing to Baylor in Lawrence in early January.
Udoka Azubuike, a 7-foot-1 senior center from Nigeria, continues his highly efficient offensive ways. Azubuike hits 73.3% of his shots. In the overtime victory over Dayton, Azubuike went 12-for-15 from the floor for a season-high 29 points.
“Too bad he doesn’t shoot more,” joked Bill Self.
Devon Dotson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, leads Kansas with 18.4 points per game. He recently torched Iowa State for 29 points. Dotson struggled from downtown most of this season, but exploded for six treys against Iowa State.
Kansas is 15-6 ATS this season in their last 21 games.
Top Scorers: G Devon Dotson (18.4 ppg), C Udoka Azubuike (12.8 ppg, 9.8 rebounds)
Key Wins: West Virginia (twice), Colorado, Dayton, BYU, Texas Tech
Losses: Baylor, Duke, Villanova
According to a recent update at William Hill, both Baylor and Kansas are co-favorites to win 2020 March Madness at 10/1 odds.