Kansas State Wildcats (18-7) +1, o/u 158.5, @ Baylor Bears (17-8) -1, o/u 158.5, Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas, 8 p.m. est., Saturday
by Oracle of Predictem.com
The nation’s 25th ranked team in Kansas State will take its awful road record into Ferrell Center against the Baylor Bears on Saturday night in a Big 12 clash.
The Bears have been victims of bad luck lately, losing 6 of 7 games, including a last second overtime loss to Oklahoma on a 35-foot three-point shot. Before their recent struggles, though, Baylor was a surprise team not just around the Big 12, but around the country, with a 16-2 record at one point. They are explosive offensively, as they are a guard-heavy team led by Curtis Jerrells and his 15.4 points per game. In fact, Baylor has 5 guards in all that average at least 21 minutes per game. Jerrells played 40 minutes and scored 29 points in Baylor’s overtime loss to Oklahoma. However, Jerrells has been inconsistent in his play as of late, averaging 12 points in the previous two games before Tuesday’s loss.
Kansas St., on the other hand, depends on their bigs to do their dirty work. Everyone knows about Michael Beasley, who is a legitimate candidate for National Player of the Year. He shows no signs of slowing down, either, recording his NCAA freshman record 22nd double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds in a road loss to Nebraska on Wednesday. When teams can contain Beasley, although it is rare, the Wildcats have been looking to 6-foot 6-inch forward Billy Walker to take off the heat. Walker averages over 16 points per game for an offense the scores 80.1 points per game 20th in the country.
So it’ll be a matchup between the bigs of Kansas State and the guard play of Baylor. It’s not a surprise the line is a small one, with the oddsmaker favoring the home team Bears by -1.5 points. Oddsmaker also has the over/under at an even 158.
Both teams are pretty mediocre covering the spread, with Kansas St. at 11-8 and Baylor at 9-8 ATS. Kansas St. is also just 2-6 ATS the spread in their last 8 road games of the year. It’s the over/under that should catch bettors attention.
When these two teams matched up in a contest in January, Kansas St. won 69-60, coming in under the line of 140. However, the over is 17-5 in Baylor’s last 22 games, including 10 straight. The over is also 16-5 in Baylor’s last 21 Saturday games.
Meanwhile, the over has dominated Kansas St as well, coming in 7 of the last 8 games. Both teams average over 80 points per game on the year, while their defenses are nothing to brag about.
Baylor lets up over 73 points per game on the year, making them 287th in the country. Kansas St. gives up 67.1 points per game. But the biggest discrepancy that comes between these two teams in rebounding.
Kansas St. is 6th in the nation in rebounding margin, grabbing nearly 9 more rebounds per game than their opponents. On the flip side, Baylor is 140th in rebounding margin, mainly because of all the guard play on the court.
Although this statistic may seem somewhat trivial, it’s a distinct advantage for Kansas St. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Bears in their first meeting of the year and also held Jerrells to just 7 points on 2-11 shooting.
There are a few mixed signals for bettors in this showdown. Baylor is the consensus pick, barely. The consensus over/under is almost dead even, too. The 158 is a big line to cover, but with these two offenses, it just could happen.
Baylor has a few advantages on their side heading into tonight, too. The Bears are a bubble team, and need a win against a ranked opponent to boost their resume. Also, the Wildcats have a 2-5 road record on the year, giving Baylor an edge at Ferrell Center.
Oracle’s Pick: Despite nearly everything going against the Wildcats, including their terrible road record, a motivated Baylor team, and a not-so-deep bench, I have a feeling they are going to pull this one out. The Wildcats are just too big and strong to be held down by Baylor’s guard-oriented play. Michael Beasley is as consistent as they come, too. Kansas St. will prove their win over Kansas earlier in the year really hasn’t been a fluke. 158 is a big line and hard to judge in a game of this magnitude, so I’d stick to taking Kansas St. plus the 1.5.