If you want a refresher on the makeup of this Texas team, just read my preview from a week ago, assuming I remembered to make one. I would link it here, but I’m too lazy to go find it. It’s the internet. It’s out there somewhere. Anyway, let’s get straight to the prediction.
Texas blitzed KU when they played in Austin a week ago. They won 74-59 in a game that was never particularly close, where Kansas never made the run we were hoping would get them right back into the game. You can’t chalk it up to 3 point luck, because Kansas actually shot 32% compared to Texas’ 29% in that one. The issue was inside the three point line, where Texas consistently took away passing lanes and made it very uncomfortable for KU to run offense. The Jayhawks shot just 39% from two while letting Texas hit 56% from the same. Kansas didn’t turn the ball over a ton, nor did they give up a bunch of offensive rebounds. That game came down to the fact that Texas simply outplayed the Jayhawks, reaching an intensity level on the defensive end that Kansas couldn’t find a way to match in any phase of the game.
But today, the scenario is different. Last weekend, KU already had the title wrapped up. They were going on the road to face an angry team, one that had just barely missed an opportunity to win or share that same title, and one that was playing at home. Now, Kansas is fighting for interim coach Norm Roberts as well as head coach Bill Self, who is still recuperating from what has only been announced to date as an “illness” that resulted in a stay in the hospital. If you listen to the Jayhawks’ interviews after the last two games, there are locked in and determined to play with the same effort, intensity, and efficiency they would have if Self were patrolling the sidelines.
When I make a pick, I typically leave emotion out of it, or I err on the side of caution and pick against what I’d like to see emotionally. But this game feels different. I shy away from catch phrases used 5 million times per day across the internet, but this whole damn team’s got that dawg in ‘em. Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris lead the charge, but these guys are scrappers, and they’re going to be focused on making sure this isn’t a repeat of last weekend. Now there’s another team involved today, and that team is still very, very good. Just about as good as Kansas, if we’re being honest. But this just feels like a game where the players won’t allow a loss. It could be ugly, with the way these teams can both play suffocating defense when called upon, but I think KU finds a way to will themselves to victory, and earn another Big 12 tournament title on behalf of the recuperating Self, and his 2nd in command Norm Roberts, who the team also seems to rally around with everything they’ve got. Give me KU in a close game, probably a high scoring one, since defensive intensity will likely be tough to conjure up when playing for the third time in three days.
Kansas 79, Texas 77