The Big 12 Tournament finals will see No. 11 Baylor take on No. 5 Missouri in a battle of athletic squads. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds have Missouri favored by 3.5 points with the total sitting at 148 points for the contest. In the finals of the tournament, which team will come up strong and earn the automatic bid and arguably a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament next week?
Free Analysis: Missouri is playing in its final Big 12 Tournament and would probably love to take this year's trophy with them to the SEC. Baylor, on the other hand, isn't going anywhere in regards to their conference affiliation and not many people expected them to even be here at this point in the season. The Bears started off hot, rising into the Top 5 nationally but has since hovered between the middle portion of the rankings. There's nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, they might be coming off their biggest win of the season, knocking off top seeded Kansas on Friday night in the semifinals. Missouri players and fans were likely looking forward to a rematch with arch-rival Kansas in the Tigers' final Big 12 game Saturday, but Baylor obviously had other plans. Missouri picked up a pretty easy win over Texas in the other semifinal matchup on Friday and still has its eyes set on a No. 1 overall seed in the tournament next week if they were to knock off Baylor today. Missouri, which is leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC after this season, beat Baylor 73-60 in 2009 for its only league tournament championship in three title game appearances. Though a rematch against Kansas would have been fun, the second-seeded Tigers at least publicly don't seem to care who they face in their Big 12 swan song. "We would have played Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, anybody," said senior guard Kim English, who shook off a thigh bruise to score 23 points against the Longhorns. "We just wanted to win the Big 12. We are prepared to beat Baylor (Saturday) and try our best." Baylor has never won a conference tournament title in the Big 12 and will be looking to do so today. "You never want to get disrespected," said forward Quincy Acy, who had 11 points and six rebounds Friday. "So we came in with the mindset this week to win every game." Baylor will have to play tough inside and crash the boards on a regular basis during the contest if they are to avoid a fourth straight loss to Missouri in this one. The Tigers held on for an 89-88 victory at Baylor on Jan. 21, then won 72-57 at home Feb. 11. Missouri point guard Flip Pressey obviously enjoys playing against Baylor. This year he totaled 35 points while shooting 10 of 18 in the two wins over the Bears this season. He must like playing Texas as well as the sophomore went 8 of 13 from the floor and finished with a career-high 23 points Friday. The Tigers shot 52.6 percent in that game. Missouri also controlled the contest the majority of the night despite leading scorer Marcus Denmon (17.7 points per game) missing all 10 of his shots and being held to just two made free throws. Yuck. "I think that's a great example of a ball club that's a team," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "We have other really good players on this team." Perry Jones had 18 points and Brady Heslip hit a pair of late 3-pointers to finish with 12 points as the Bears withstood an 18-3 Kansas run to score nine straight points after the Jayhawks took a 58-56 lead. "This was a night we grew up," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. Drew has probably been waiting to say that for some time this season as Baylor just hasn't been able to get over the gap of being a legitimate national title contender just yet. Now, it seems, they are there, and with a win over Missouri today, they could garner even more attention heading into next week.
Free Pick: Give me the over in this game as both teams aren't the best defensive squads in the country. Missouri likes to get out and run and Baylor will more than likely try and match them with that, even if it's not their best style of basketball. I see an up and down affair in this contest with a lot of points being scored on both ends. You better believe Mizzou wants to leave the Big 12 winning their last game. It's also worth noting that Baylor would like to win their first conference tournament and would do so today with a win. Emotions should be high for both clubs and I'm expecting each team to settle down, run their offenses and get good looks at the hoop. There's really no reason both of these teams can't score in the upper 70s today.
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.