Our handicapper spots excellent value on the underdog for your NCAA Basketball picks in this very important Big 12 matchup in Morgantown.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor +7
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
In a nationally televised game on ESPN2, the Baylor Bears (17-5, 6-3) travel to the West Virginia Mountaineers (18-4,7-2) in an effort to keep up in the very competitive Big 12 Conference. Each team is chasing the #1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (19-2, 7-2) at the moment, but look to have records that will assure them bids in the NCCA tournament already. With West Virginia being very hard to beat at home lately, holding a 16-1 SU record in their last 17 games in Morgantown, the oddsmakers have them listed as early 7.5 point favorites at Heritage. As I am getting an early start to the weekend I don’t have a O/U total on the NCAA Basketball odds board yet, but we are more interested in the side here anyway.
Baylor is coming off of a 67-59 loss at home to a Texas Longhorn (15-7, 6-3) who seems to be hitting their stride at just the right time. Baylor was led by senior forward, Rico Gathers, who at 6-8, 275 lbs., is more of a NFL prototype than an NBA one. Still, Gathers was able to score a team leading 20 points and 8 rebounds in 28 minutes. The big forward fouled out of the game in the closing minutes which did not help his stats, nor the Bears chance of winning late. Another senior forward, and leading scorer over the season, Taurean Prince had 18 points and 7 rebounds in the game, but also turned the ball over 4 times. Prince leads the team on the year with 15.1 points per game.
The 59 points that Baylor scored in the game was the lowest offensive output of the season. They only shot 19-54 from the field for the game, good for 35.2%, and also hit a dismal 5-17 from three-point range. Over the year Baylor averages 78.9 points per game and shoots 47.2% from the field.
West Virginia returns home after one of their biggest wins of the year, an 81-76 nail biter at #13 ranked Iowa State (16-6, 5-4) as a five-point road underdog. Senior guard, Jaysean Paige, was huge in the game and scored a team leading 23 points while going 10-17 from the field. This is nothing new for Paige, as he leads the Mountaineers in scoring over the season with 14 points per game. Rebounding was the biggest reason the Mountaineers came out of Iowa State with a win though, as they cleaned house on the glass to the tune of a 41 to 23 margin. Junior forward, Devin Williams, led the Mountaineers in that category with a stellar 18 rebounds in the game. Williams leads the Mountaineers on the season by averaging 8.9 rebounds per game thus far.
The home and away trends in this game favor West Virginia, as they hold a 5-2 ATS record at home as compared to a 2-3 ATS record on the road for Baylor. However, the Bears have been quite a thorn in the side of the Mountaineers over the last few years, as they are 7-1 SU against them, including a 6-1 ATS record against West Virginia in their last seven games. Baylor won three meetings between the two teams last year, all by double digits.
For both teams the two leading scorers and rebounders return for this matchup from last year, a year in which Baylor executed the season sweep.
I like this as a letdown spot for West Virginia after their big win on the road at Iowa State. A slightly sluggish start will be all that is needed for Baylor to keep this one close, if not outright win the game. As I look at the line now, it has already come in a bit as well. Take Baylor +7 early before the sharps drive this line further down as one of your Saturday NCAA Basketball picks.