No. 6 Kansas vs. No. 2 Baylor features two top defenses. You know what that means

Create: 2021-01-18
Update: 2021-01-18
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Monday, January 18, 2021
I don't like to grade coaching hires because it's an impossible task to do accurately right after a decision is made. We've seen numerous examples of "can't-miss, home run hires" flame out disastrously. We've also seen just as many "what in the world are they thinking!?" hires work out. So, basically, grading a hire is blindly throwing a dart and hoping it finds the bullseye so you can say, "see, I told you so" a few years from now.
That said, while I'm not going to grade the Chargers decision to hire Brandon Staley on Sunday night, it did cause me to raise an eyebrow. Next Sunday, we're going to see four of the best offenses in the NFL playing for a Super Bowl berth. We won't see Staley's Rams defense, which was unsurprisingly discarded by Aaron Rodgers on Saturday. I say unsurprisingly because, with Aaron Donald playing at what seemed to be 60% of maximum capacity, a great Rams defense suddenly looked a lot more ordinary.
Now, I'm sure Staley's defenses with the Chargers will be sound thanks to some top talent, but the Chargers are also a team who just staked their future on Justin Herbert. A rookie QB who showed a lot of promise this season. A rookie QB with a big arm, but one who could be refined a bit. So with a candidate out there like Brian Daboll, who has worked wonders with Josh Allen (who was a lot like Herbert in his rookie season) in Buffalo, helping mold him into what looks to be a franchise QB, I was surprised to see the Chargers move now to hire a defensive coordinator. Daboll just seemed to make too much sense for the job.
Staley must have been fantastic in the interview.
Elsewhere today: 
  • Tennessee football is still doing Tennessee football stuff.
  • Patrick Mahomes' mom is not happy with Mack Wilson.
  • Ohio State QB Justin Fields has officially declared for the NFL Draft.
  • Jerry Palm's latest NCAA Tournament bracket projection is out.
OK, let's make some money
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 6 Kansas at No. 2 Baylor, 9 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 140 (-110)
: This is an excellent matchup for a Monday night -- one that could prove to be a preview of the Big 12 Championship game, if not a regional final or Final Four meeting. And while there won't be the same kind of crowd atmosphere that comes with games of such magnitude, I do think we'll see the same kind of intensity on the court. In many ways, this is a must-win for Kansas. A loss would put the Jayhawks three games behind the Bears in the Big 12 and two losses behind Texas.
But I don't have a play on the spread. As of Monday afternoon, the line is at Baylor -8.5, and it's shrunk a bit. If it continues shrinking to eight or smaller, I'd consider Baylor. Regardless of the spread, I really like the under in this one as 140 is just too many points in a matchup of two of the country's best defensive teams. Baylor's defense rates first in efficiency, according to KenPom, and Kansas ranks 10th. Given their defensive strength and everything that's on the line, I'm expecting these two offenses to have difficulty finding easy baskets tonight, and that'll keep us below the total.
Key Trend: The under is 8-2 in Baylor's last 10 games against teams with a winning record.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: It's a top-10 matchup so you know the Advanced Computer Model has been cooking up an extra special batch of simulations.
💰 The Picks
Bucks at Nets, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Under 239 (-110) -- 
My feelings for this game aren't all that different than they are for the Baylor-Kansas game. Yes, these are two of the best offenses in the NBA so far. Milwaukee ranks second in the league in offensive efficiency, and Brooklyn isn't far behind in fourth. Odds are the addition of James Harden isn't going to hurt Brooklyn's overall efficiency. Still, I don't think it's unfair to expect some possible growing pains early as everyone learns to play together. Particularly against a Milwaukee team that ranks seventh in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
I'm expecting this game to be close and hoping it's fun, but I also expect there to be something of a playoff atmosphere between two teams that could easily meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. There won't be any easy baskets tonight.
Key Trend: The under is 4-0 in Milwaukee's last four games.
Mavericks at Raptors, 7:30 p.m. | TV: League Pass
The Pick: Mavs +5 (-110) -- 
I'm sorry, Toronto. It's not like I'm out here waking up every morning saying, "let's see how I can disrespect the Raptors today" or anything, but I keep being put into these situations! I just don't think the Raptors are as good this season as they have been in recent years, but they're still getting that same kind of respect from oddsmakers.
Yes, Dallas played on Sunday night and lost to Chicago, but that doesn't mean the Mavs aren't better than this Raptors team. I also know the Mavs are missing some guys, and it's definitely playing a role in this line, but the Mavs are so much better defensively than the Raptors are. Dallas has ways to stop Toronto's offense. Can the Raptors stop Luka Doncic? Not often enough.
Key Trend: Toronto is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 as a favorite while the Mavs are 5-0 ATS in their last five as a dog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's projection model generated selections for Monday's matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Star Plays
PG: Luka Doncic, Mavs
SG: Victor Oladipo, Rockets
SF: LeBron James, Lakers
PF: Anthony Davis, Lakers
C: Wendell Carter, Bulls - It's a cheap slate at center!
Value Plays
PG: Dennis Schroder, Lakers
SG: Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks
SF: Joe Harris, Nets
PF: Patrick Williams, Bulls
C: James Wiseman, Warriors
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.
 🏀 NBA Player Props
  • Brook Lopez Over 0.5 assists (-145)
  • James Harden Under 7.5 assists (+115)
  • Wendell Carter Over 2.5 assists (+140)
  • Lauri Markkanen Over 6.5 rebounds (-120)
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