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2009 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP

3/14/09

They say “ya gotta believe” and that’s exactly what everyone involved with the 20-13 Baylor Bears has done this week. Who would’ve thought that after totally falling apart in the second half the season, they would have a chance to be called the Big 12 Champs? Certainly not I. Their task won’t be easy as they will have to dispatch #15 Missouri if they want to wear the crown and earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Missouri dismissed a hot Oklahoma State team who was fresh off a win over the regular season champions, Oklahoma. The Tigers made mince meat of Baylor in January, but they will be facing an entirely new beast on Saturday.


Baylor’s season couldn’t have ended any worse. They had lost 8 of their last 10, and wrapped it up with a loss to Nebraska, who they would be playing in the first round of the Big XVII Tournament. Their coach must’ve given them a hell of a speech, because they went from losing to Nebraska, to pounding them by 16 points. That’s quite a dramatic turnaround!


Most thought the win was meaningless, because it set Baylor up to play the buzzsaw that is the Kansas Jayhawks. They call it March Madness for a reason, because the Baylor Bears sent the Jayhawks packing with a 7 point victory. Baylor then proceeded to beat Texas by 6, a team that beat the Bears by 16 just 11 days ago. Baylor wasn’t the greatest team ATS during the regular season, but they have obviously covered in the tournament due to their upset wins. These boys are getting good at the right time, and will give Missouri a run for their money.


Missouri is ranked #15 in the nation for a reason. The Tigers began the Big XVI Tournament with a very easy 20 point win over a lackluster Texas Tech team. After that, they shut down an Oklahoma State Cowboys team that was on cloud nine after beating arch rival Oklahoma. They have all the things a great basketball team needs. Excellent play down low, defense, and poise on the court. For the most part, Missouri has covered the spread this year. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games ATS. This is a scrappy team, but they will have to come with their game to dispatch this wily Baylor bunch.


Key players for the Tigers include Senior stud DeMarre Carroll. The Birmingham, AL native is putting up 17.1 PPG, and grabbing 7.3 RPG. He played great against Texas Tech, putting up 19 points, but did not see action against Oklahoma State. Carroll was integral to the Tigers win over Baylor earlier this year, as he added 25 points to their total. Leo Lyons is something a sharp shooter, putting up 14.3 PPG, and hitting at 45.5% from three point land.


LaceDarius Dunn went wild on the Kansas Jayhawks for Baylor, putting up 24 points on the top 25 team. He followed that up with 16 points and 7 rebounds against Texas on Friday. Curtis Jerrells is the regular season scoring leader at 16.1 PPG, but he has been OK at best so far in the Big XVII Tournament. He will need to pick up some of the slack if Baylor hopes to dispose of Missouri.


This game is certainly one you won’t want to miss out on. Baylor has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Missouri will be jockeying for a better seed in the NCAA Tournament. I predict the line will be in the 5-7 point range with Missouri as the obviously favorite. I think they should be able to top Baylor again, and end the Bear’s Cinderella run. Lay the points and take the Tigers.

 

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