Texas Longhorns vs. Baylor Bears Preview and Pick

Texas Longhorns (20-4) +1.5, 151 O/U at Baylor Bears (17-6) 11.5, 151 O/U, Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas, 6 PM Eastern, Saturday
by Badger of Predictem.com

The Baylor Bears will try and snap a 21-game losing streak to their in-state and Big 12 Conference rival Texas Longhorns when the 11th- ranked Longhorns travel to a sold out Ferrell Center in Waco on Saturday in a game shown on ESPN.

Texas is coming off of their biggest win in years, a 72-69 victory over the 3rd-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in Austin on Monday. The huge win over the Jayhawks was the Longhorns fourth straight victory and their seventh in their last eight games. The Horns four-game winning streak started with an 80-72 victory over this same Baylor team in Austin back on February 2nd.

Baylor, who is off to one of the best starts in schools history, is in the midst of a major slump. The Bears have lost two straight games, and four of their last five overall, to take the shine off of what was a 16-2 start. On Wednesday the Bears got off to an ice-cold start and fell behind by 20 points, and never recovered in a disappointing 93-83 loss at Oklahoma State.

Basketball oddsmakers opened the game with host Baylor as slim 1.5- point favorites, with an over/under total of 151. Baylor is also favored on the moneyline at -126, while Texas is listed at +116.

Texas is playing its best basketball of late even with their best player, guard D.J. Augustin, in a major slump. Augustin, who leads the team with a 19.3 points per game average and leads the whole Big 12 with 5.8 assists per game, was just 1-of-13 shooting versus Kansas. He was also just 1-of-7 shooting in the earlier game versus Baylor.

Luckily for Augustin he has an excellent supporting cast, with guard A.J. Abrams (17.7 ppg, 3.2 3-pointers per game (leads Big 12)) and forward Damion James (averages a double-double with 12.7 ppg and 10.7 rpg) being able to pick up the slack while he has been in his shooting slump.

Baylor sports an offense that leads the Big 12 in scoring (81.9 ppg), free throw percentage (78.7) and 3-pointers made per game (8.0). The Bears run a guard-heavy system that features five players that average double figures in scoring. Guards Aaron Bruce (10.2 ppg), Curtis Jerrells (15 ppg), Henry Dugat (11.5 ppg), Tweety Carter (8.5 ppg) and LaceDarius Dunn (13.0 ppg) account for 71 percent of teams scoring, with forward Kevin Rogers (10.2 ppg) being the only non- guard scoring in double figures.

Dunn, a true freshman, has been particularly strong of late for the Bears averaging 24.5 points in his last two games, including a 26- point night in the loss at Oklahoma State.

Defense is where these two teams differ dramatically. Texas has the ability to shut down opponents when it has too (65.0 points allowed per game), while the Bears allow a Big 12 worst 82.4 points per game. Baylor tries to outscore their opponents instead, and when teams shoot 52.8 percent from the floor like Oklahoma State did on Wednesday, its not a recipe for success. Baylors Mamadou Diene does lead the Big 12 in blocks (2.6 per game), so they do have a presence in the middle if they chose to use it.

Even though Baylor has lost 21 straight in the series, including nine straight in Waco, they have been competitive. The last four games between these two have been decided by an average of 4.7 points. But Baylor hasnt exactly been a giant killer, as they are 1-3 versus ranked teams so far this season and are a meager 3-44 versus ranked foes in the past seven seasons combined.

While Baylor has covered the spread in four of the last seven meetings dating back to the 2006 season, Texas does sports a strong 6-2 ATS record in the games played in Waco.

Texas, just 10-8 ATS this season, is on a three-game covering streak and is also a strong 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games played on Saturday.

Baylor is 8-7 ATS for the season and has only covered once in their last five games overall. The Bears are a strong over bet though (all offense and no defense, go figure), as they have come in over the total in 11 of their last 12 games overall and 13 of their last 16 Big 12 games.

Badgers Pick: If Texas was the favorite in this game, I would say it was set up to be the classic “letdown” game following their big win over Kansas. But they are the underdogs, so its not quite the same setup. I expect an up-n-down affair with a ton of scoring to boot. So take the over of 151. I also like Texas to keep the streak over the Bears alive, so you can take the Longhorns plus the points too.