This afternoon, #8 Baylor Men’s Basketball (19-3) travels to Lawrence to take on the #10 Kansas Jayhawks (18-3) in a battle between the top two teams of the Big 12. The winner will have sole possession of the number one ranking in the conference and control their destiny in winning the regular season title.
If Baylor is going to do what they’ve only done once before — leave Phog Allen victorious — they need to do well in these three stats.
Three Point Offense
According to Ken Pom, Baylor ranks 5th in the country in offensive efficiency, and they do so with a balanced attack from inside and outside the three point line.
The Bears make 55% of their two point shots (41st in the country) and 37% of their three point shots (43rd in the country), and their 39% three point rate is about average (164th in the country).
Kansas is a good, not great, defensive team. They hold their opponents to a 1.7 percentage point worse two point shooting percentage (170th in the country) and a 1.8 percentage point worse three point shooting percentage (115th in the country).
Unfortunately, Baylor may not be playing at full strength, as two of their best three point shooters are game-time decisions . If LJ Cryer and Adam Flager are good to go, expect them to take a lot of shots from deep.
Two Point Defense
Kansas is also an elite offensive team. Ken Pom currently has the Jayhawks ranked 3rd in offensive efficiency in the entire country, and they have success from almost everywhere on the court.
You could argue that Baylor needs to play strong perimeter defense, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Kansas makes 37% of their threes (48th in the country), so they are definitely a threat from deep; however, they are below average in three point rate with only 34% of their field goal attempts coming from behind the arc (260th in the country).
Given KU’s emphasis on shots near the rim, playing good interior defense is of paramount importance for Baylor. Kansas makes 56% of their two point attempts (31st in the country), and Baylor’s opponents typically shoot their season average on twos against Baylor (229th in the country).
In years past, I would also add that Baylor needs to play excellent two point defense while avoiding any semblance of fouling. And while any game in Phog Allen can turn into 5 vs 8, that doesn’t appear to be the norm this season. Kansas has a free throw rate of 31%, which is only average (174th in the country).
When playing against a team that shoots as well as Baylor and Kansas do, you can’t afford to give up too many offensive rebounds. So naturally, both Baylor and Kansas rebound the ball better on offense than they do on defense.
Baylor collects 36% of their offensive rebound opportunities (5th in the country), and Kansas holds their opponents to an offensive rebounding rate 3.3 percentage points below their opponents’ season average (102nd in the country).
Kansas collects 34% of their offensive rebound opportunities (20th in the country), and Baylor holds their opponents to an offensive rebounding rate 3.2 percentage points below their opponents’ season average (105th in the country).
Whoever wins the rebounding battle will have a huge advantage in this game, and I suspect the team who rebounds better will be the team that ultimately wins.
Ken Pom Prediction: Kansas 76, Baylor 75