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March Madness — Big 12 Dynamic Duo Kansas and Baylor Pursue Top NCAA Seeds

By their set of metrics, the folks at KenPom.com rank the Big 12 Conference as the second best in the land. And that is why you have to be so incredibly impressed by what the Kansas Jayhawks and Baylor Bears have accomplished this season.

In this league that otherwise has some pretty good balance, Kansas and Baylor were the only two teams to finish with a record over the .500 plateau in Big 12 play. Together, they won 30 of the 32 conference games in which they didn’t play against each other.

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It was another regular season Big 12 title for Kansas (28-3 SU, 19-12 ATS), which means fifteen in the last 16 seasons for Bill Self. With the top offensive and defensive efficiency rankings in the conference (9th and second in the nation, respectively), is there any reason to think this team won’t get make it through this tournament?

Maybe the more appropriate question is whether the Jayhawks will have to win the Big 12 tournament in order to snag a #1 seed in the Big Dance. We’re thinking not, and maybe that could go into the thinking of BetAnySports customers as the event approaches.

Here are the odds on the conference tournament field, with all the games being played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City:

KANSAS -125
BAYLOR +270
Texas Tech +650
West Virginia +700
Oklahoma +1375
Texas +3000
Oklahoma State +6000
TCU +10000
Iowa State +20000
Kansas State +20000

Kansas and Baylor will both get byes in the first round, and there is obviously a little more incentive on the part of the Bears (26-4 SU, 18-12 ATS) to make their aspirations for a spot on the top line a reality.

Kansas has the best inside-outside game. Udoka Azubuike is a menace on the offensive boards, and more likely to dunk the ball than anything; something that has resulted in a nation’s best 74.4% percentage from the field.

Kansas is the best team in the conference inside the arc; they are best in two-point percentage in the conference, on both offense and defense. And they get backcourt play that compares with that of anyone, as 6-2 sophomore guard Davon Dotson has a shot at being named national player of the year.

With a 17-1 conference mark, and non-conference wins over the likes of BYU, Dayton and Colorado, Kansas is a deserving favorite to win it all. They’ve lost only to Duke, Villanova and Baylor, but went on a 16-game tear.

And speaking of Baylor, they lost their season opener to a Washington team that is below .500 at the moment. But then the Bears started to roll through their opposition. Lately they have sprung some leaks, losing three out of their last five. What that adds to the festivities is the very real possibility that they may need to win this tourney to gain a #1 seed.

On January 11, Baylor scored a double-digit win over Kansas (67-55) in which they committed only five turnovers, holding Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike to 15 combined points. Baylor also registered victories over Villanova, Arizona and Butler, aside from their sizzling 15-3 Big 12 mark.

This is a ferocious offensive rebounding team, ranking seventh in the nation in that category. And they also do a more-than-respectable job of filling it up from the outside. Jared Butler, the 6-3 sophomore guard, has shot 38% triples, while transfer MaCio Teague is 35.5% from long range. One thing that should be noted is that Baylor shot 33.4% three-pointers in Big 12 play, compared with 37.3% last season.

One thing the Bears have on their side is veteran leadership, which gives them an added edge against some of these “one and done” programs. And they are outstanding on the stop end – there is, in fact, no defensive category in which they rank in the bottom half of the Big 12.

Baylor at the current price may be a deal you could think about.

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