Kansas vs. Baylor in Mythical March Madness Big 12 Semifinal Showdown
Baylor just came off of a win over Big 12 rival Texas Tech to earn their trip to the Final Four and lo and behold, waiting for the Bears in Kansas City is another Big 12 rival in the Kansas Jayhawks. The Big 12 Tournament may have been cancelled, but the two top seeds from the conference have earned their way through the COVID-19 pandemic and Mythical March Madness for a rubber match in the age old pantheon of hoops in downtown Kansas City.
Publisher's Note: This is our go at Mythical March Madness and now entering the fourth round. The tournament and results are determined using all-time odds for each seed in NCAA Division I Men's Tournament history for advancement in each round. The roll of dice with rolls of six or below representing the higher-seeded team and rolls of seven or greater representing the lower-seeded team determine the results. If the game is written up as close then the roll of the dice went to the eighth, ninth, or tenth roll. If it is written up as a blowout then it was decided with few rolls needed. This is the Final Four with all top seeds, Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, and Dayton; making their way to Kansas City and the famed Municipal Auditorium.
The rubber match between these two No. 1 ranked teams as Kansas was at the top of the polls on a couple of occasions this season including when Baylor knocked them off 67-55 at Allen Fieldhouse back on Jan. 11 and then Baylor was sitting at No. 1 in the polls when the Jayhawks returned the favor 64-61 in Waco on Feb. 22.
Kansas came out slugging as Devon Dotson hit a couple of early three-pointers and the combination of Udoka Azubuike and David McCormick went right at Freddie Gillespie and Mark Vital. Vital actually was whistled for a pair of fouls in the first three minutes and had to sit the majority of the first half. Missing the defense and especially the rebounding of the 6-5 guard that plays more like a forward hurt the Bears significantly.
"We needed mark at full strength," said mythical Baylor coach Scott Drew at the half while walking into the hall underneath the Auditorium. "I promise he will come back with a fresh start this half.
Dotson had 12 points at the break and Baylor's two leading scorers, Jared Butler and MaCio Teague had combined for eight points, so Kansas led 27-22, but you had the feeling that KU head coach Bill Self and his team felt like they should have and needed to lead by more.
Baylor threw the ball in to start the second half and right at the end of the shot clock it was Teague that flew in a three from the left baseline and it was game on.
The Bears and Jayhawks traded mini runs with neither team gaining more than a five point advantage until with 51 seconds left and leading by two points, it was Teague again. This time the sharp shooter threw a three in from the deep right wing. Baylor led 60-55.
On the other end Ochai Agbaji threw in a three-pointer and KU fouled Azubuike who made the first and missed the second free throw for a 61-58 Bears advantage.
Kansas called time out and then with 32 seconds left brought the ball in and down the floor. Dotson had the ball and dribbled closer to Agbaji, but when he did Vital came off Agbaji and stole the ball cleanly from Dotson. KU fouled Vital with 18 seconds on the clock and Vital hit both free throws for a 63-58 lead. Kansas missed a three with 10 seconds left and Baylor ran out the clock to win 63-58.
The Bears at 31-4 are going to the championship game. They will play the winner of Gonzaga and Dayton. For Kansas, it is an opportunity spoiled and their season ends 32-4. Baylor wins the best of three series on the season 2-1.