Kansas still projected to win Big 12 following home loss to Baylor

Kansas Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett (0) gets in for a bucket past Baylor Bears guard Mark Vital (11) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Contrary to popular belief, the sky is not falling for the Kansas men’s basketball team.

Sure, Saturday’s 67-55 loss to Baylor highlighted some of KU’s limitations, particularly when sophomore point guard Devon Dotson is out and center Udoka Azubuike is bottled up. It was also a monumental win for the Bears, who had lost the previous 17 meetings in Allen Fieldhouse.

With back-to-back wins in Lubbock, Texas and Lawrence, Baylor might be viewed as the team to beat in the Big 12. And there is certainly an argument for that, considering the Bears had a shot at being the No. 1 team in college basketball in today’s AP poll — they’re ranked No. 2 this week.

But the computers say otherwise, at least as of Monday morning. After the opening three-game slate of Big 12 play, Kansas remains the favorite to win the league by multiple projection models. The race is tighter than it was expected to be before the start of conference play, but the Jayhawks are still expected to reclaim the Big 12 throne.

Entering Big 12 play, KenPom’s projected standings had Kansas winning the league with a 14-4 record against conference foes. Baylor and West Virginia were both pegged as KU’s biggest threats, but projected to finish with an 11-7 record on KenPom.com.

After three games, the Jayhawks and Bears are both projected to go 14-4 and end the year as co-champions.

KenPom’s updated projected Big 12 standings for 2020

Kansas — 14-4 (14-4 before the season)

Baylor — 14-4 (11-7)

West Virginia — 12-6 (11-7)

Texas Tech — 9-9 (9-9)

TCU — 9-9 (8-10)

Oklahoma — 8-10 (8-10)

Iowa State — 7-11 (7-11)

Texas — 6-12 (7-11)

Oklahoma State — 6-12 (9-9)

Kansas State — 4-14 (6-12)

While KenPom currently projects a share, KU is still expected to win the conference outright on other websites. TeamRankings.com gives the Jayhawks a 53.0% chance of winning the Big 12, while the Bears have a 38.1% chance. West Virginia is now at 6.7% after three league contests.

Bart Torvik, of barttorvik.com, also projects KU to finish higher than Baylor in the league standings by one game. Kansas has a projected 15-3 record on his site, while Baylor is listed at 14-4. West Virginia comes in third at 13-5, though no other Big 12 team is projected to win more than nine games.

Kansas should be content with going 2-1 during that opening three-game stretch, especially since it included matchups with its two biggest challengers. The Jayhawks did get both at home, but now they won’t have to worry about facing the Mountaineers or the Bears until next month.

Instead, KU will face just one team currently ranked inside the top-50 on KenPom over its six remaining games this month. That team is actually No. 49 Oklahoma, which is KU’s next opponent. The game is slated to begin at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Norman, Oklahoma.

Theoretically, this upcoming stretch figures to be a good opportunity for the Jayhawks to pile up wins. And it will be interesting to see how the Big 12 race stands come February.

Big 12 Men’s Basketball standings (as of Jan. 13)

Team Overall (Big 12)

Baylor — 13-1 (3-0)

TCU — 12-3 (3-0)

West Virginia — 13-2 (2-1)

Kansas — 12-3 (2-1)

Oklahoma — 11-4 (2-1)

Texas — 11-4 (1-2)

Texas Tech — 10-5 (1-2)

Iowa State — 8-7 (1-2)

Oklahoma State — 9-6 (0-3)

Kansas State — 7-8 (0-3)


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