Two teams headed in different directions at the moment meet when Baylor visits Texas Monday night. Do we go with the hotter team at the moment, the Bears, for our free college basketball pick?
Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns
Most shops we sampled opened Texas at -2.5, the total at 127; that spread was holding steady in the early betting, while the total got bumped to 128.
Baylor has won four in a row, after disposing of West Virginia Saturday 78-66. The Bears led by 16 at the half, allowed the Mountaineers to get within 10 points with about nine minutes to go, then pulled away to secure the victory and the cover as five-point favorites in NCAA Basketball odds.
Baylor shot 51 percent from the floor Saturday, and went 8-for-15 from 3-point range. Last Wednesday the Bears shot 14-for-26 from 3-point land in their 79-70 victory at Iowa State. And just before that they went 8-for-16 on 3-pointers in a 27-point win over Kansas State. So at the moment Baylor is shooting the hell out of the ball from downtown.
Our question, though, becomes; how much longer can they keep hitting like that? It's almost like craps; sooner or later they're going to come up dead empty.
At 10-6 in conference play the Bears sit in a tie for third place in the Big 12 with West Virginia and Iowa State. They'd like to finish in the top four in the standings, because it would earn them a first-round bye for the upcoming conference tournament.
At 22-7 overall Baylor is headed back to the Dance for the second straight season.
Texas, on the other hand, has basically played itself out of the NCAA tournament. Yeah, the 'Horns have lost some close games to some good teams, but what's to like about eight losses in their last 11 games? To us, Texas is a particular disappointment, having backed the 'Horns with an NCAA futures bet back in November.
Texas has lost four in a row, following Saturday's 69-64 defeat at Kansas. The Longhorns led that game by six points with about 12 minutes to go but faded down the stretch. They did, however, to our dismay, hang on for the cover as seven-point underdogs.
Texas shot just 38 percent from the floor Saturday, but held Kansas to just 36 percent shooting and blocked 14 shots.
Last Tuesday the Longhorns lost at West Virginia 71-64; just before that they lost at home to Iowa State 85-77; and just before that they lost at Oklahoma 71-69.
At 17-12 overall and just 6-10 in Big 12 play Texas would be home crying if the Big Dance invitations were sent out today.
Baylor just beat the Longhorns about five weeks ago in Waco 83-60. The Bears led 12-0 out of the gate and never let Texas come back, easily covering as three-point favorites. Baylor shot 48 percent that night, and hit 12 of 22 three-pointers, while the 'Horns shot just 39 percent.
That game played OVER its total of 127.
Last year Texas beat Baylor twice during the regular season, but the Bears blew the 'Horns out in the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference tournament 86-69.
By the Numbers
Baylor is shooting 44 percent from the floor this season, 39 percent from 3-point range, which is groovy, but only 67 percent from the FT line, which should be better. At the other end of the court the Bears are holding foes to just under 40 percent FG shooting.
Texas is shooting 44 percent from the floor, while holding opponents to just under 37 percent, which ranks in the top five in the country.
Totals Betting Trends
Baylor is 12-10 on the totals this season, as Bears games have averaged 129 points.
Texas is 9-13 on the totals, as 'Horns games have also averaged 129 points.
Bears-'Horns Free Pick
We totally whiffed with our NCAA basketball picks on a fade on Baylor Saturday; it seemed like a good idea at the time. On the other side of this match-up Texas just seems to find ways to lose games, and that's a trait that should be radioactive to bettors. But by gosh, if the 'Horns could just win their two games this week, and maybe a couple of games in the Big 12 tournament, they could sneak back into the NCAA field. So in a show of faith for a team we liked a lot earlier this season we'll take Texas for tonight.
Free College Basketball Pick: Longhorns -3.5 at Pinnacle