The marquee matchup of Monday in college basketball is a top-10 showdown in the Big 12 as No. 9 Kansas heads to Waco, Texas, to take on No. 2 Baylor. And both teams enter the contest with starkly different levels of momentum.
For Baylor, one of the only undefeated teams left in the sport, it is coming off its 12th consecutive win -- but its first all season by a single-digit margin after defeating Texas Tech on the road over the weekend. For Kansas, it is fighting for its life in the conference title race after falling on the road to Oklahoma State -- its second conference loss -- this past week. One more L would give KU its worst-ever start to a league slate through seven games since Bill Self's arrival in Lawrence.
Whichever team emerges from the dust should give us some real clarity on what to expect in the Big 12, so buckle in and prepare yourself for the late 9 p.m. ET tip.
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- When: Monday, 9 p.m. ET
- Where: Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas
- TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Kansas: It hasn't been an ideal start to Big 12 play for Kansas, but that shouldn't discount how good this team has been, at least in spurts. KU is 4-2 this season in games against ranked opponents, and 3-0 in games decided by a single possession. Let's not forget KU's dominance in this series, either: It has won 14 of its last 16 outings against Baylor and holds a 14-3 edge over the Bears in Waco.
Baylor: Despite only winning by eight over Texas Tech this weekend, Baylor still boasts the nation's best scoring margin -- at 26.2 points -- and has thus far been as devastating -- and arguably moreso -- than No. 1 Gonzaga. This is a chance to prove on a big stage in a big conference game that it is indeed a force. A loss won't disqualify the Bears from being considered that by any stretch, but on two days rest, a win in this spot would further cement them as the best team in the conference -- and perhaps in a spot where they must be considered in the same tier as Gonzaga.
Game prediction, pick
With a win tonight over Kansas, Baylor could tie for the fourth-longest winning streak in program history while solidifying itself as the conference frontrunner, all while simultaneously bumping KU to a spot where it may not be able to recover in the Big 12. That's reason enough to believe that the Bears -- on their home floor -- will come out with some serious spunk to show their goods. And it's in part why I'm laying the points with Baylor. The other reason is because Baylor, based off every result to this point in the season, has been a decidedly better and more balanced team. Perhaps KU puts up a fight and Self schemes up something special, but I don't think he's got the horses to run with Baylor in this one. Prediction: Baylor 81, Kansas 71
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