Baylor By A Bucket Tonight vs. West Virginia

Baylor Bears players celebrating

Willie Bee

Monday, February 27, 2017 3:15 PM GMT

A key clash in the Big 12 takes place in Waco this evening where the Baylor Bears are slight favorites on the NCAA basketball odds in their rematch against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The last time West Virginia and Baylor got together, the Bears were on top of the world as the newly-anointed No. 1 team in the country. It would be a very short tenure at the zenith of the ranks, and now the Bears find themselves in need of a victory over the Mountaineers this evening to retain any hope of a No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament.

One of two top 20 battles on Monday's card, this one tips in Waco a little past 7 PM (ET) and will be carried by ESPNU. Bookmaker started the line with Baylor favored by two before the spread was cut in half in overnight wagering. Tonight's total has been inching up, meanwhile, beginning at 135½ and settling at 138½ by Monday morning.

Having just climbed to No. 1 in the polls in early January, Baylor's first test came in Morgantown where the Mountaineers closed as 5½ point chalk. Thanks to the Bears' sloppy play (29 turnovers), West Virginia built an early lead and then ran away in the second half for an 89-68 blowout. It was the third consecutive loss in the series for Baylor who fell to WVU by a 69-58 count in last year's contest at Ferrell Center. The Bears were favored by 3 in that one, and lead the series 7-4, all but one of the matchups coming as Big 12 foes.

 WVU Making Final Road Trip Of Season

It's a tough final week of the regular season for Bob Huggins and West Virginia (23-6 straight up, 13-11 against the spread). Following this roadie to Waco, the Mountaineers return home for a Friday evening battle against Iowa State, the Cyclones currently knotted with WVU for second place in the Big 12.

The Mountaineers had that tough overtime setback at Kansas a couple of weeks ago, but have since bounced back to win three in a row though they managed to cover the NCAA basketball odds in just one of those victories. All signs point to West Virginia having to play a 3rd-straight game without Esa Ahmad, the team's 2nd-leading scorer. The 6-8 sophomore is listed as questionable with a back injury he suffered in the double-overtime win over Texas Tech.

 

BU Needs Win To Earn No. 2/3 Seed In Big 12 Tourney

Baylor (23-6 SU, 12-12 ATS) responded to the loss at West Virginia by winning its next five games, but the good times essentially ended then for Scott Drew's kids. The Bears have dropped five of their last eight, all of them close affairs within six points, and now sit fourth in the conference standings a game back of the Mountaineers and Cyclones. They'll end their regular season slate Saturday afternoon in Austin against Texas.

The importance of earning a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the conference tourney comes in those teams not having to take on heavily-favored Kansas in the semifinals. Baylor needs to earn a split with West Virginia to have any chance of claiming one of those two slots, and the Bears should have an advantage inside if Ahmad sits for the Mountaineers. Despite their poor play recently, I'm willing to lay a point on the home team with my free college basketball pick.

 

Free NCAAB Pick: Baylor -1 Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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