Baylor Basketball

Fraschilla, Goodman, Parrish, Katz, DeCourcy, others break down/predict KU vs. Baylor

February 21, 2020
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With the excitement building for the most-anticipated game of the season to date, I asked some of the most respected members of the college basketball media for their thoughts on top-ranked Baylor’s showdown with No. 3 Kansas Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Here’s what they had to say:

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Jeff Borzello, ESPN.com

To beat Kansas, you have to slow down Devon Dotson and try to limit Udoka Azubuike's touches. Not too many teams across the country are equipped to do that. Baylor is. The Bears have three guards who can really defend on the perimeter, and they showed in the first meeting they can make it difficult for Doke to get touches in good positions. At the other end, it's going to come down to whether Baylor's guards can make shots -- and it would obviously be a boost if MaCio Teague can suit up.

Prediction: Baylor 61, Kansas 58

 

Rob Dauster, NBCSports.com

I’m fascinated to see how Kansas is going to adjust to what Baylor was doing defensively the first time these two teams played. Baylor’s ability to play man on one side of the floor and zone on the weak-side is the perfect defense to play against a team that struggles to space the floor with a big bruiser in the low-post. But Bill Self is the master of tweaks and he’ll have had four days to fully implement something that has surely been weighing on his mind since the last time these two teams played. 

To me, that’s going to be the difference-maker. Because if Kansas is as ineffective offensively as they were when these teams played back in January, it won’t matter if MaCio Teague is healthy or if the Jayhawks opt to run Marcus Garrett or David McCormick at the four. 

If I had to guess, I think what we are going to see is Udoka Azubuike used in ball-screens as a roller and a rim runner. I specifically remember the first possession of the game for Kansas last time they played they ran that play, then Baylor over-helped and Ochai Agbaji got a wide-open three in the corner. Those ball-screens will force Baylor to make a decision: Tag and take away the lob by leaving a corner shooter, play drop coverage and risk Devon Dotson being able to turn a corner, or switch and hope that Baylor’s guards can effectively front the post with over-the-top help. 

I’ll be fascinated to see what two of the best coaches in the game pull out of their bag of tricks in what likely amounts to a battle for the Big 12 title.

Prediction: Kansas 63-57. Take the ML and the under.

 

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News

This is probably the biggest regular-season men's basketball game in Baylor history. I don't know if they can match Allen-level frenzied, but I have no doubt the crowd will do everything within the boundaries of good taste to give their team a homecourt advantage. They'll need it. Kansas is the one team in the league that has the offensive power to combat what has become the nation's most cohesive defense, and the Jayhawks have an incredible defense of their own. The weird things about games like this is that when everyone expects a defensive slugfest, somehow the skilled players on both sides manage to rise above and deliver exceptional performances. It was that way in the NCAA title game last year between Virginia and Texas Tech, and I won't be surprised if we see a similar show Saturday.

Prediction: For amusement purposes only, I'll say: Kansas 68, Baylor 65.

 

Fran Fraschilla, ESPN

Azubuike will be an x-factor because of his size, but Baylor can neutralize him because of its great team defense. Ultimately, this game will come down to which one or two guards on each team has a special night. Jared Butler was tremendous in Allen Fieldhouse. In Waco it’s possible that someone like Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett, Davion Mitchell or MaCio Teague has that special night that Butler had in Lawrence.

These teams are so similar in terms of being four-out, guard-oriented teams. Guards control each team’s offense and defense. But each team has an inside presence with Gillespie and Doke. Vital, defensively is a human demolition derby. Each team’s DNA is similar because of their defenses, which are two of the top three in all of college basketball. And they’re both very well-coached. That’s an obvious. So again, it’s going to come down to which player has that six-for-eight from three-point range night, or who makes big shots late. I don’t know if it’s going to be Jared Butler or Devon Dotson or Marcus Garrett or Devonte Bandoo. The great thing is that each team’s defense has the chance to control who it is or isn’t. It’s a great chess match.

Baylor will do everything they can to keep it out of Doke’s hands, but remember, he’s only averaging six or seven shots a game anyway. You can’t focus on Dok as the key to the game. There are very few nights that he’s gone out and scored 20-plus. That’s not who he is. Another Achilles heel for Kansas is that they’re not a great passing team other than Marcus Garrett. They don’t really pass it into Doke all that well. Doke might be an x-factor, but chances are good he’ll be neutralized by Baylor’s great team defense and the play of Mark Vital and Gillespie.

One thing Kansas is doing well is that they’ve evolved. They started off the season in New York trying to play two big guys vs. Duke. They had 1,000 turnovers that night. Bill is at the stage of his career where I’d be very surprised if they go back to playing two bigs. He loves four (guards) out. Because they evolved into a four-out team this year, Dotson is at an All-American level. Marcus Garrett could be the most underrated player in the country. And they’re starting to get enough offense out of Braun, Moss and Obaji that they’re becoming more of a complete team on both ends of the court.

With Baylor, their defense is still elite. They’re not getting the shot-making right now that they should be, but that comes and goes. Kansas has dealt with it, too. Before Saturday, Marcus Garrett had made three 3s in Big 12 play. He hit six against Oklahoma. Devon Dotson is shooting 28 percent from three-point range. Monday against Iowa State he made six. Shooting comes and goes, especially in a league that values defense. The key for Baylor in terms of staying at a high level and potentially being a Final Four team, they’ve got to get back to making more jump shots.

Prediction: I think Kansas will win a one-or-two possession game in the 60s and on March 7 the two teams will be sharing the Big 12 title.

 

Jeff Goodman, Stadium

This honestly might be the best game of the season, and I can’t believe I am saying that. But the fact that Baylor beat Kansas in Lawrence adds another layer of drama to what is already a matchup between two potential No. 1 seeds. This game has everything: two of the best coaches in the country, two of the best defenses, high-level guards and quality bigs — even though Doke and Gillespie are so different. 

If Baylor wins this one, I hope people start to finally give Scott Drew and the Bears the credit they deserve. They have clearly been the best team in the country to this point and there’s really no debating that.

Prediction: Baylor

 

Seth Greenberg, ESPN

Kansas is playing a small lineup now. I went back and watched the tape of the first game. All that high-low stuff Kansas was trying to get … Vital would just make a play to stop it. By playing Braun more and with Marcus Garrett making some shots, Kansas is better. Playing that smaller lineup maybe hurt them on the offensive a little, so there’s a tradeoff there.

Baylor, depending on Teague’s health, has such good depth. Even without Teague their depth is just absurd. I love their team. They play hard, they play to their strength, they’re well-coached, they defend every possession and their guard play is terrific. The matchup between Davion Mitchell and Devon Dotson is going to be fascinating to watch. Mitchell is just terrific. I’d think Garrett will be on Butler. Those are two matchups to watch. Baylor has struggled to make shots in league, but when they have to make them, they do. Like the other day, when Oklahoma made that run, they at least came up with big play or two. Kansas has been prone to turning it over. In their losses they’ve turned it over. Kansas is definitely better now, though. I like their small lineup. I like their versatility. Braun changes them some. He does more things than Moss, who is a streak shooter. They’re not a good passing team, and that’s a concern against a Baylor team that pressures the ball.

If I’m Kansas, I’m trying to get into Baylor’s bench. I’m trying to get someone like Vital or Gillespie in foul trouble. I don’t know how many minutes Tristan Clark can play, even though he’s showing some good signs.

A big factor for Kansas will be whether Marcus Garrett can make 3s. They’ve got to contain Dotson in the open floor. He’s a 5-foot-11 two-guard. On an advance pass, it’s a layup. That’s why I say that Mitchell and Dotson is a key matchup. If you contain his burst, the next thing is, where is KU’s offense going to come from. Vital is such an alert off-ball defender it’s ridiculous.

There’s more and more pressure on Baylor every game and so far they’ve handled it seamlessly. I give Scott a lot of credit, because a lot of people, for years, have been hard on him. Let me tell you something: his team is a reflection of him. He’s got a quiet toughness about him, a very quiet arrogance. He never loses his poise on the bench. Ever. And his team never loses its poise on the court. He never overreacts to anything.

They’re a mature, old-school team. They’re like an old Big East team to me, in a lot fo ways. They’ve got a hard-hat mentality, a toughness about them, a resiliency about them. Their defense is as physical as any defense in the country.

A guy like Vital … he doesn’t care if he ever gets a shot. Do you know what an anomaly that is in college basketball? They all just embrace their roles. Freddie Gillespie is the same way. They don’t run anything for him. The respect that those players have for one another is so unique to me in the culture of our game right now. That’s the only word I can use. Unique.

Prediction: (Greenberg isn’t able to make predictions since he’s working the game).

 

Andy Katz, NCAA.com

The Baylor-Kansas game has become the game of the season, especially after the road win for the Bears in Lawrence. Scott Drew has done a tremendous job of adjusting his defense from being a primary zone coach to man. The matchup between Jared Butler and Devon Dotson should be the one to watch. Let's hope we get round three between these two in Kansas City. And, what is entirely possible, is a fourth in Atlanta.

Prediction: Baylor

 

Jesse Newell, Kansas City Star

I picked Baylor to win the last matchup between these two teams as an underdog at Allen Fieldhouse and since then, the Bears have continued to prove themselves as one of elite teams in the country. Scott Drew's gameplan to double-team Udoka Azubuike was brilliant and caught KU off guard, but I also think Bill Self will have the Jayhawks ready to better counter such a strategy in the rematch. If Baylor's quick guards can force steals like they did against KU in January, it's tough to see the Jayhawks winning this one. KU has been a good road team this year, though, and Self historically has won more than his fair share of close games. This one feels like a coin-flip-type contest, but I'll give the slightest of nods to KU.

Prediction: KU 68, Baylor 66

 

Matt Norlander, CBS Sports

We’ve got a great chance for the Big 12 to showcase itself here. Remember the Buddy Hield ball-out at Kansas a few years back? That’s the best Big 12 game of the past half-decade, but maybe this one can come somewhat close to it. It’s not going to be ultra-high-scoring, meaning the chances of it being within a possession with a minute to go are good. Kansas rates No. 1 in multiple predictive metrics, while Baylor for sure has the best overall resume in college hoops. And it’s never swept Kansas in a season — it’s never won two straight games under KU in any circumstance. We don’t yet know for sure if MaCio Teague is going to play, but I really hope he does so we get these teams at mostly full strength. I’m excited to be on hand for this — my first time covering a game at Baylor — to see what’s truly the culmination of the biggest construction job (not reconstruction) in college basketball history.

Prediction: I do expect a tight, good game. And I’ve got Kansas ever so slightly: 66-64.

 

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

First things first: Let’s take a second and just appreciate that it’s late February and we’re about to watch a Baylor team that’s 24-1 host a Kansas team that’s 23-3 -- and looking up at the Bears in both the polls and Big 12 standings. That’s amazing. Baylor being No. 1 is amazing. Baylor entering with a 23-game winning streak is amazing. So no matter what happens in this game, the fact that this game is even happening under these circumstances speaks to the program Scott Drew has built, and it’s among the reasons he has a real chance to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame someday. But we’ll get to that another day. For now, let’s focus on this game. Would I feel better if MaCio Teague were 100 percent? Of course. But, with or without him, I’m going to trust the Bears to extend their winning streak to 24 games — and this is coming from somebody who loves Kansas. I actually think Kansas should be the favorite to win the national title. But the Jayhawks aren’t playing for the national title on Saturday; they’re playing Baylor in Waco. And, crazy as it sounds, what I'm about to type is true: Winning the national title game in April, if Kansas is in it, will be less of a challenge than beating Baylor in Waco on Saturday.

Prediction: Baylor

 

Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports

This is the most anticipated game that Baylor's program has had since Scott Drew became the head coach in Waco. Kansas has more star power with Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, but Baylor's chemistry is the best in the sport. Seasons like the one that the Bears are currently experiencing happen once every couple of decades for a non blue blood program.

Prediction: Momentum continues for Baylor on Saturday with a sweep of the Big 12's flagship.

Prediction: Baylor

 

John Werner, Waco Tribune-Herald

Baylor can be a roller coaster on offense. For a few minutes they’re really good and then they kind of hit a lull. But they always do something to get themselves going again, something to regain the momentum. A steal, a block, getting loose in transition somehow. Matthew Mayer does a spin move on the baseline and dunks on someone to ignite the crowd. It’s always someone different. That’s why they’re so good, because they have so many different guys that can hurt you. Jared Butler is pretty consistent, but after that it’s always someone different pitching in to make a play.

When they played at Allen Fieldhouse, there were times in that game when you thought, “OK, here’s where they might fall apart.” But they never did. They always came through with a play. Winning that game and winning at Tech gave them a huge shot of confidence. I think they still take things from those wins. Like, when they got down at Oklahoma State, or when things got close at Texas and Oklahoma, they probably thought, “We were able to win at Kansas and Texas Tech, so we can definitely pull it out here.” They just keep coming through. They’re enjoying this ride so much and they don’t want it to end.

Prediction: I’m picking Baylor because they have more depth. Kansas relies on two or three guys. Baylor can count on six or seven guys coming through for them and making key plays here and there. It’s going to be a fun game.

 

Tim Welsh, ESPN

The key for Kansas is figuring out a way to get Devon Dotson freed up. Normally he’s doesn’t need help but Davion Mitchell is the best on ball defender in the game. Marcus Garett will have to help more than a little with running the offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Self moves Dotson off the ball at times so Kansas can set screens for him on the move without the ball.

The key for Baylor will be up front. Can they handle Azubuike without Freddie Gillespie getting into foul trouble? Also, can they rotate the bigs at Doke now that Tristan Clark looks like he might be a factor down the stretch. He was really good against Oklahoma, where he moved better than he has at anytime since his injury. Look for Mark Vital to be a roaming linebacker on defense, doubling down on Doke.

Also Baylor needs to pressure and run to force turnovers as they sometime struggle in the half court where Kansas’s  defense is excellent. Points off turnovers in Game #1 was 21-2 in favor of Baylor. I imagine Scott Drew will turn up the heat extra hard on Dotson and company.

Prediction: Baylor 63-60. Home court will be the difference.

Discussion from...

Fraschilla, Goodman, Parrish, Katz, DeCourcy, others break down/predict KU vs. Baylor

3,567 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by BUbackerinET
Gentle Ben
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Seven pick Baylor and five pick Kansas. I want Baylor to win...easily if possible.
Jayman1963
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Jesse Toowll picked KU to win - not a surprise. What is a surprise is that he only has KU winning by 2 (68-66). I figured he would have the final score:

KU 114
BU 2 (Baylor gets a couple made free throws on one KU foul)

Jacques Strap
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Quote:

Points off turnovers in Game #1 was 21-2 in favor of Baylor. I imagine Scott Drew will turn up the heat extra hard on Dotson and company.

I didn't realize the Bears were so dominant in this category. But I suppose it makes sense because the Bears only had 5 turnovers in the game.
BUbackerinET
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Franschilla picked against us again? Wow, stunning -sarcasm (he has picked against us all year) and I have been pointing it out all year, and been absolutely crucified on these threads. He has been defended by so many on these threads, it's mind-numbing. Even now, I'm sure they will come out here and defend the indefensible, so c'mon boys...Greenberg has been much more fair, and I'm thankful he is calling this game.
EvilTroyAndAbed
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Jayman1963 said:

Jesse Toowll picked KU to win - not a surprise. What is a surprise is that he only has KU winning by 2 (68-66). I figured he would have the final score:

KU 114
BU 2 (Baylor gets a couple made free throws on one KU foul)


You do realize he picked Baylor to win in Lawrence, right? I think his top 25 bracket is a joke, but he uses whatever weird metrics to decide that. It's why he had a 14-10 Purdue team in the top 20.

But he doesn't hate Baylor. He is on record as picking us to win last time.
DanaDane
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No issues, even with those selecting KU. All comments were fair on both sides. I have a nagging fear the stage may be a little big tomorrow, but perhaps that just goes with being a Baylor fan all my life and outside of Mulkey we've tripped a few times on the big stage (well, once we were cheated on the big stage....Duke, cough cough). But, this team has surprised me all year long and a double digit win by us also wouldn't surprise me tomorrow. I've learned to NEVER count this group out.
BUbackerinET
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Good points - I call it cautious optimism. Would be such a great win!
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