College basketball heats up Saturday afternoon in the Big 12 as the No. 3 Missouri Tigers travel to take on the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds have Kansas favored by eight points in this contest with the total sitting at 144 points. Big 12 bragging rights are up for grabs in this huge game between Top 5 teams.
Free Analysis: This is a match-up of two of the best clubs in all of college basketball. Both have been ranked very high all season long so it's no surprise to see them battle for the Big 12 regular season crown this deep in the year. However, the two clubs that have battled for 105 years will be playing in the regular season for the final time (in the foreseeable future). A win for the third-ranked Tigers would aid their chances for their first Big 12 regular-season title, while the No. 5 Jayhawks can extend their unprecedented run of league championships. This rivalry goes way back. In fact, the Tigers ended basketball inventor James Naismith's nine-season tenure as Jayhawks' inaugural coach with wins on back-to-back days in Lawrence, Kansas. The next season both clubs met in what was known as the Missouri Valley Conference as Phog Allen took over for the Jayhawks. Now, the two clubs meet as the crossroads of realignment. Mizzou will head for the SEC following this season, and the Jayhawks have repeatedly expressed no desire to continue the series. KU obviously feels slighted as the new thing in college athletics is to bolt for greener pastures. In today's game Kansas is looking to continue pushing a school record by winning (or sharing) an eighth straight Big 12 title and the 12th in the conference's 16-year history. Missouri's only Big 12 title came back in 2009 and a win for the Tigers today would bring the two schools in a tie for first place. Kansas enters the game winners of five straight games but lost to Missouri back on Feb. 4. The Tigers erased an eight-point deficit over the final 2:08 as leading scorer Marcus Denmon produced a personal 9-0 run. Mizzou had won seven straight but recently lost to Kansas State, in what should cement the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament. Jayhawks guard Tyshawn Taylor said his team is looking forward to the matchup and fellow Jayhawks star Thomas Robinson is looking to have a bigtime game. Kansas is very big up front with Robinson and center Jeff Withey. Missouri is a team that likes to get out in transition and run the floor. Missouri held Withey scoreless and to just one shot in the previous game. Robinson had 19 of his team-best 25 points in the second half but didn't take any shots over the final 2:26. Kansas holds a 171-95 series lead but those 95 wins for Missouri represent the most by any opponent against the Jayhawks.
Free Pick: Kansas is favored by eight points in this game for a reason. While picking the better of these two teams might seem like splitting hairs, the Jayhawks are looking for some history in this game. Don't for one second think that Kansas would be happy getting swept by Missouri in their final year of playing each other. The Tigers have been decent on the road this season but Kansas just doesn't lose at home. There will be a lot of emotions in this game and I believe Kansas is the right play here, even laying the eight points.
Betting Strategies: College Basketball Conference TournamentHost Marco D'Angelo and Pregame's own Johnny Detroit talk about how important the college basketball conference tournaments are for some teams and also discuss: Conference tournaments are purest handicap of the season and other various handicapping angles.