Big 12 Tournament Semifinals: #4 Baylor Bears vs #1 Kansas Jayhawks

Big 12 Tournament Semifinals
#4 Baylor Bears vs #1 Kansas Jayhawks
Sprint Center – Kansas City, Missouri

Friday, March 13, 2015, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Kansas -1
Current Total: Kansas -1 1/2
Opening Total: 134
Current Total: 134 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kansas -110 / Baylor -110
Current Money Line: Kansas -125 / Baylor +105

Kansas is a slight favorite against Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals Friday.
Kansas is a slight favorite against Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals Friday.

The Kansas Jayhawks are 25-7 and won the Big 12 title for an incredible 11th straight season with a 13-5 record. The Jayhawks held off 12-6 Iowa State and Oklahoma for the title. Kansas survived an upset bid Thursday against #9 seed TCU 64-59 in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Kansas will now take on #4 seed Baylor in the semifinals Friday. Baylor is 24-8 this season and finished tied for fourth in the Big 12 with West Virginia at 11-7. The Bears beat the Mountaineers 80-70 in the quarterfinals yesterday. The winner of Baylor and Kansas will play either Iowa State or Oklahoma in the championship game Saturday.

Win or lose, Kansas and Baylor are both projected to be high seeds in next week’s NCAA Tournament. Kansas will likely be a #2 or #3 seed and Baylor is projected somewhere between a #3 seed to a #5 seed.

Kansas leads the series 23-4 against Baylor and has won 4 straight games in the series. Kansas won 56-55 in Waco January 7 and 74-64 in Lawrence 74-64 February 14. The Bears are 2-0 all-time against Kansas in the Big 12 tournament including a victory in the 2012 Big 12 semifinals.

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Baylor is coached by Scott Drew. The Bears have losses to Illinois in Las Vegas, road losses at Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State Kansas and Texas, and home losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State. Baylor has road wins at South Carolina, Vanderbilt,  TCU, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Iowa State,  a neutral site win over Memphis in Las Vegas, and home wins over Stephen F. Austin, Texas Southern, Texas A&M, New Mexico State, Iowa State Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas Tech. The bears have won six of their last seven games. Baylor is 15-10-1 ATS and the total is 14-11-1 this season. The Bears were 3 point favorites against West Virginia and the total was 137.

Kansas is coached by Bill Self. The Jayhawks have losses to Kentucky in Indianapolis, plus road losses at Temple, Iowa State Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Kansas is 15-0 at home this season. The Jayhawks have home wins over UC-Santa Barbara, Florida, Kent State, UNLV, Texas Tech,  Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, TCU, Texas and West Virginia . Kansas has neutral site wins over Rhode Island, Tennessee and Michigan State in a tournament in Orlando, plus over Utah in Kansas City. The Jayhawks have road wins at Georgetown, Baylor, Texas, TCU and Texas Tech. Kansas is 16-14-1 ATS and the total is 16-13-1 this season. The Jayhawks were 8 point favorites against TCU and the total was 137.

Baylor is outscoring teams 70-59 this season. The Bears are #21 nationally in points allowed. Baylor is shooting 43.5% from the field and 38.5% from 3 point range. The Bears are #41 nationally in free throw shooting. The Bears make 66.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.5% from the field and 28.9% from 3 point range. The Bears are #38 in field goal defense and #9 in 3 point defense nationally. Baylor averages 40.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.4 per game. The Bears are #5 nationally in rebounding. Baylor averages 15.1 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 7.7 steals and 4.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 15 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 6.5 steals and 3.9 blocks per game.

Forward Taureen Prince averages 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game. Kenny Chery averages 11.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Rico Gathers averages 11.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Royce O’Neale averages 9.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Johnathan Motley averages 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Lester Medford averages  8.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Al Freeman, Deng Deng, and Ishmail Wainwright will also get minutes in the rotation.

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Kansas is outscoring teams 72-65 this season. The Jayhawks are shooting 44.7% from the field and 40.7% from 3 point range. Kansas is #16 nationally in 3 point shooting. The Jayhawks make 70.8% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.8% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. Kansas averages 38.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.9 per game. The Jayhawks are #31 nationally in rebounding. Kansas averages 14.1 assists, 12.6 turnovers, 6.5  steals and 4.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.5 assists, 11.4 turnovers, 6 steals and 5 blocks per game.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis averages 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He is probable after missing the last two games with a sprained knee.  Frank Mason III averages 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Wayne Selden, Jr. averages 9.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Kelly Oubre, Jr. averages 8.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. Cliff Alexander averages 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Alexander is doubtful because of eligibility issues.  Devonte Graham, Brannen Greene, Jamari Traylor, and Landon Lucas will also get time in the rotation.

Baylor is 5-0 ATS after a straight up win, 4-0 against teams with winning records, 5-1 overall and against Big 12 teams, and 5-2 after a cover. The under id 4-1-1 in this series recently.

Kansas is 4-1 ATS after failing to cover, 1-5 in Friday games and against teams with winning records, 1-6 overall and against Big 12 teams. Teh Jayhawks are 3-0-1 ATS in the last 4 games against the Bears.

Kansas has struggled on the road in conference play but has been unbeatable at home. Playing in nearby Kansas City is pretty much a home game but the Jayhawks could be without two key players including Ellis and Alexander. I think Baylor has the talent to pull off the upset in the semifinals. I like the Bears to do just that.

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