The Big 12 conference title all comes down to one day, Saturday, March 9, 2013. Kansas versus Baylor has it’s own implications, but Kansas State versus Oklahoma State earlier in the day has larger implications. It’s between Kansas and Kansas State for the Big 12 title. KU is looking for 9 straight and Kansas State is looking for a conference title in men’s basketball since 1977.
Right now, both schools are tied with a 14-3 conference record. If both win, then they share the title. If the both lose, then they share the title. If one wins and the other loses, then the winner gets the title outright. There’s a lot riding on this game.
Kansas is also in line for another number 1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament and the Big 12 conference tournament. KU cannot afford to drop another game before tournament selection if they want a 1 seed. It may not predestine them for a national title, but in theory is assures them the most favorable matchups against lesser seeds in the tournament.
From KUSports.com, Kansas leads the series with Baylor 19-3, including an 8-1 record in Waco, Texas. Since the inception of the Big 12, KU holds a 17-3 record against BU and has won four of the last five meetings. Baylor's last two wins in the series were in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: 71-64 in the 2009 quarterfinals in Oklahoma City and 81-72 in the 2012 semifinals in Kansas City. Earlier this season, Kansas defeated Baylor 61-44 on January 14, in Allen Fieldhouse.
Baylor is 17-13 on the season and 8-9 in Big 12 play. The Bears are coached by Scott Drew who is 174-137 in his 10th season at BU and 194-148 in his 11th season overall. Baylor averages 74.3 points and gives up 66.0 for a +8.3 scoring margin. Baylor is ranked third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 44.9 percent including 34.7 percent from three-point range. BU averages 7.1 three-pointers and 6.7 steals per game.
Traditionally Baylor has had huge potential in talent, but has very rarely delivered on the court. Sporting top national recruits and high team rankings in early season polls, Baylor has not converted the hype to titles. That shouldn’t dupe the Jayhawks into thinking the game will be a cakewalk. Baylor is on the bubble and a win against a top ranked Kansas team would go a long way on selection day for the tournament. It would probably also interest the Bears to thwart KU’s run at 9 straight conference titles. The Bears have all of the motivation in the world to come out and take the Jayhawks to line, but Kansas has been solid since ending their 3 game losing skid. They have blown out teams they were expected to and taken solid Big 12 foes in tight games. Iowa State knows all about that in two overtime losses to the Jayhawks this season.
Kansas will participate in the Big 12 Championship, March 13-16, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Its first action will be in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 14, as it will be either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the event.
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