Baylor at Texas -2.5 O/U 133.5
After an inexplicable three-game stretch where Baylor had a complete lapse of defense, the Bears have regained its identity. The Bears current 3-0 straight up and against the spread run comes on the heels of a 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS mark where they allowed 90, 81 and 98 points and 52% FG shooting or better in all three. The catalyst for Baylor’s recent ticket cashing threesome has really been a combination of trademark defense and ball sharing on offense. Baylor is now 5-7 in Big XII play after a 2-8 start which brought the team to a crossroads. Nuni Omot said, “We got together and told ourselves that it’s going to be a fight, but we really have to do it for each other”. “We’re starting to do it for each other and we’re starting to share the ball and we’re starting to look for everyone. That’s the biggest part, we’re just playing together.”
Texas sits at 5-7 in league play right now too so with six games left, this one is obviously important to them as well. Unlike Baylor, the Longhorns stout defense has currently abandoned them allowing 54.8%, 53.7% and 51.6% from the field in their last three games. That has resulted in a 1-2 SU/ATS record including Saturday’s 16-point home loss to TCU in which Texas wasted one of their best offensive performances of the conference season.
Games are all about matchups and styles and this head-to-head is different from all others in the Big XII. These teams are mirror images in their desire for half-court tempo and tough defense but it’s the amount of size and length across the respective front lines that makes this matchup unique. That’s where the battle will be fought tonight and if it’s a draw, perimeter shooting will be the difference. Fundamentally, Baylor’s zone which has asserted itself again figures to be a difference maker. UT does not have a consistently reliable three-point attack and with Baylor contesting all shots, Texas faces a tough task. Have to also note Baylor’s turnover percentage which ranks worst in the Big XII. In past years that would be ripe for the picking against Shaka Smart’s aggressive defense but this version isn’t a turnover forcing team (9th in Big XII). The current line of -2.5 doesn’t leave much room for error (although my power ratings did make this game Texas only -0.5) so the look here will be toward the total. In their initial meeting Back on January 6 in Waco, Baylor won 69-60 with the closing line and total almost identical (home team -2.5, O/U 133) to what we see right now. Something in that vicinity is expected again tonight.