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College Basketball Pick
This might end up being the game that decides the Big 12 regular season title. Kansas has a two-game lead in the standings after Monday's ridiculous comeback against West Virginia and has a chance to sweep the team currently in second, Baylor. Things didn't go as smoothly for the Bears on Monday as they fell at Texas Tech with the help of a 7-of-27 shooting night from three. Maybe the bigger thing for Baylor is that it needs this win to hold onto its chance of getting a 1-seed. The Bears come into this game losing three of their last five games and looking nothing like one of the best teams in the country.
When these teams first met in Lawrence at the beginning of the month, Frank Mason and Josh Jackson combined for 42 points with Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk adding 24 more between them. The turning point was early in the second half when Kansas went on a 14-0 run and while Baylor fought back to take the lead with about five minutes to go, it didn't matter. The experience of KU's guards decided the game, which has been the case throughout the season. The Bears got little from their guards in that game outside of Manu Lecomte, who hit four threes. Johnathan Motley scored 16 points, although surprisingly had a small role in the second half, while Jo Lual-Acuil and Terry Maston combined for 24.
It's likely to be a similar type of game this time around as Kansas lacks any kind of presence in the paint. Even with Carlton Bragg back in the lineup, the Jayhawks still don't get much from their bigs outside of on the defensive end. Baylor will likely attack Lucas and Bragg once more with Motley expected to see more touches than the last meeting. Motley combined with Lual-Acuil on the offensive boards is an extreme problem and it doesn't help KU that backup big man Terry Maston is coming off his best performance of the season, scoring 22 points against Texas Tech.
But while those guys will have success, can Baylor stop the KU guards from taking over yet another game? Mason was only 3-of-12 from the field in the first game and he still found a way to score 19 points through free throws. Baylor will likely mix up its defense as much as possible to keep those guys confused, but again, Mason and Graham have seen it all throughout the years. The Bears will hope that Lecomte, King McClure, Al Freeman, Jake Lindsey and Ishmail Wainwright can step it up more so than last game.
At the least, Baylor has played much better defense at home so that will help some. Also, coming off a loss while KU is riding high from its comeback, the Bears are in a better mental situation. Baylor leads the Big 12 in defensive efficiency and will need that to show up against the best three-point shooting team in the conference. Baylor should come into this one firing and backed behind the crowd in Waco, should get the win against the pesky Jayhawks. Then again, KU's last five wins have come by six points or less, so if Baylor can't close the deal, the door will be open.
Our pick - Kansas by 1
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