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The Definitive Baylor Preview

And/or a love letter to Rico Gathers

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The general mood surrounding Kansas's win at Baylor was mostly melancholy and/or foreboding, with the general sense that 11 was going to be tough to get if all the games were as tough as Baylor. Fast forward a month or so, however, and it's apparent that at Baylor is one of the tougher wins in the league. The Bears have only lost to Kansas and Oklahoma State this season, and Baylor currently sits at 13 in KenPom.

In conference, the Bears are tied for third in offense, scoring 1.07 points per possession, and 5th defensively, allowing 1.01 points per possession.

Offensively, Baylor is getting it done via the 3 pointer, like Kansas, and via offensive rebounds, unlike Kansas. Baylor is shooting 38.1 percent on threes, and while they shoot just 44 percent on twos, 8th in the league, they rebound 41 percent of their misses, so obviously keeping them off the glass is going to be huge. Kansas certainly didn't do that in the first meeting, as Baylor had an offensive rebounding rate of 47.2 percent, but Kansas limited the Bears to shooting just 26.3 percent on twos, which went a long way towards clinching the win.

Defensively, Baylor just doesn't have the type of rim protection that is going to bother Kansas all that much. Baylor allows opponents to shoot 56.6 percent at the rim this year (via hoop-math), and it's worth noting that Kansas managed to score 1.08 points per trip against the Bears despite shooting just 29.4 percent on threes, their second worst output of Big 12 play. Baylor gives up quite a few three point attempts, so this one could potentially get ugly.

Individually, the main Bear to watch is Rico Gathers. Although he's only shooting 43.8 percent on twos, Gathers is the second best offensive rebounder in the country and is 17th nationally in turnover rate, so his value on offense is immense. If he shot even a little better from the field he would be a great choice for Big 12 player of the year, but for now he'll have to settle for being a lock for the first team. I would expect a steady stream of Cliff Alexander and Landen Lucas to lean on Gathers and try to keep him off the glass as much as possible.

Point guard Kenny Chery is shooting 38.4 percent on 3-pointers this year, but has nearly an equal assist rate and turnover rate, and he's really struggled defensively at times. Kansas won't want him getting loose, obviously, but Mason and Graham should be more than enough to neutralize Cherry.

Lastly, Taurean Prince shoots 40.9 percent from three on the year, though that number has dropped to just 33.3 percent in Big 12 play. He shoots third most in the conference, and with a 52 percent eFG he's obviously very valuable, so I expect Bill Self to toss Kelly Oubre on him early and often.

At 13-10-1 ATS, I am going to take the Jayhawks to cover the 6.5 point spread against Baylor, and pick the Jayhawks to win 77-69.