NCAA Prediction: Baylor Bears and Missouri Tigers
Saturday, February 11, 2012
by Mike Stewart
No. 4 Missouri Tigers has put itself in position to win its first-ever Big 12 regular-season championship, and is tied for first in the league standings at 9-2. But the Tigers are going to need a strong finish if they hope to unseat 10th-ranked Kansas, which has won seven straight conference titles and is also 9-2 in Big 12 play. The Tigers, who beat the Jayhawks on Feb. 4, won’t play the rematch until Feb. 25. Until then, their biggest test will come against No. 6 Baylor Bears , which is a game back and desperate to stay in the hunt. Missouri won the first meeting 89-88 on Jan. 21 in Waco.
Baylor Bears (21-3): Baylor gave up a 23-2 run early in the second half of Wednesday’s 68-54 home loss to Kansas, a critical defeat that could ultimately cost the Bears a shot at the conference title. Now the Bears must knock off Missouri or fall behind by two games in the Big 12 standings with just six to play. Baylor has struggled with Missouri, losing four of the last five meetings. The Bears haven’t won in Columbia since 1948, a stretch of 10 straight losses. Perry Jones III, a sophomore forward, averages a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds.
Missouri Tigers (22-2): Marcus Denmon scored a team-high 25 points in Missouri’s 71-68 victory over Oklahoma on Wednesday. Denmon, the team’s leading scorer at 18 points per game, is one of seven members of a senior class going for its 100th win against the Bears. Ricardo Ratliffe and Kim English — two other seniors — also handle a bulk of the scoring, averaging 14 points each. The Tigers are shooting 50.1 percent on as a team, and have scored 70 or more in seven Big 12 games.
1. Missouri is 2-0 against top-10 opponents this season.
2. Baylor has lost eight straight games against top-10 teams. The Bears’ last win was an 80-77 victory over No. 6 Texas on Jan. 30, 2010.
3. At 22-2, Missouri has matched its best start since the 1989-90 season. It’s the second-best start in program history.
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Tigers 78, Bears 70
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