Earlier this week, the No. 2 Baylor Bears (18-0, 10-0 Big 12) ended a three week hiatus that was brought on by COVID-19-related issues. They stayed perfect, but now a tougher test presents itself in the form of the No. 17 Kansas Jayhawks (17-8, 11-6 Big 12). Kansas is coming off an overtime loss, but they went 5-1 during the three-week stretch that Baylor spent sidelined. Oh, and the Jayhawks have been excellent on their home court this year.
Free Picks: Kansas Jayhawks vs Baylor Bears
Is rust a factor for the unbeaten Baylor Bears?
We all know how frustrating of a season this has been for several college basketball teams, as COVID-19 close contacts and positive tests have forced some schools to stop and start their seasons with annoying irregularity. The No. 2 Baylor Bears are one of the teams that has been affected recently, missing three weeks of action in the month of February.
On Tuesday, the Bears finally returned to action. And now on Saturday, they’ll face their first real test in nearly a month as they hit the road to meet the No. 17 Kansas Jayhawks. The NCAA basketball odds for this game aren’t available yet (make sure to check back closer to tip off), but our BetPicks prediction here will assume Baylor to be a road favorite in the range of 5-8 points.
The last time these teams met was on Jan. 18, when Baylor won 77-69 as the home team (narrowly missing the mark as 8.5-point favorites). The Bears never trailed, and they held a double-digit lead through large portions of the game. True to form, Baylor shot the lights out from three (9-of-19) while swiping an impressive 10 steals. They rank first in NCAA Division I in 3-pt percentage (43.2 percent) and third in defensive steal rate (13.6 percent).
There isn’t much reason to question what Baylor is capable of — after all, it’s the No. 2 team in the country, with top-10 adjusted efficiency metrics in both offense and defense. The question is simply whether or not they’ll be rusty after such a long layoff.
They sure looked rusty in Tuesday’s return. Facing a putrid Iowa State (2-17, 0-14 Big 12) team, Baylor actually trailed inside the game’s final five minutes. That’s concerning. But it also provided some much needed reps for a team that had hardly practiced in three previous weeks, and one that had only two days to break in a new starting center.
A sharper Baylor team will need to appear Saturday to prove voters right for keeping them No. 2 in the rankings for all this team. And given that Baylor is 5-1 against the spread on the road this year (versus Kansas’s 5-5 ATS home mark), we like the Bears’ chances.
- Kansas is 4-6 ATS in its past 10 games
- The OVER has cashed in five of the Jayhawks’ past nine games
- Baylor is 6-4 ATS in its past 10 games
- The OVER has cashed in six of the Bears’ past seven games
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Syracuse is on another deep run into March as a double digit seed, they will need to get through Houston to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight.
USC and Oregon meet on Sunday, March 28 at 9:45 p.m. ET in the third round of the NCAA tournament. It’ll be their second matchup this season, albeit the previous one is well in the rearview mirror.
Loyola Chicago is back in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three tournaments, while Oregon State returns to this stage for the first time since 1982 when they meet on Saturday, March 27 at 5:15 p.m. ET.
Arkansas is supposed to be here. Oral Roberts isn’t. But on Saturday, March 27 at 7:25 p.m. ET, these teams will meet in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).