Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals: Our Elite NCAA Basketball Picks

Jay Pryce

Thursday, March 10, 2016 1:00 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 10, 2016 1:00 PM UTC

The Big 12 Championship is in full-swing as the Quarterfinal round tips off this afternoon. Get all your betting info and NCAA basketball picks on each matchup here.

The Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals has a total of eight teams in action on Thursday, six of whom are ranked in the AP Top 25: No. 1 Kansas, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 9 West Virginia, No. 21 Iowa State, No. 22 Baylor, and No. 23 Texas. Below you will find a brief write-up of each game, complete with betting analysis and picks. The Big 12 tourney rankings are used hereinafter.


No. 4 Texas vs. No. 5 Baylor (12:30 p.m. ET)
The Longhorns and Bears split their two regular-season meetings, each earning victories as underdogs on opposing hardwoods: Texas (+4.5) won in Waco 67-59, while Baylor (+5.5) gained a 78-64 upset in Austin.

The Bears succeed with offense. Their 118 points per 100 possessions is the 10th most efficient in the nation, and second-best in the Big 12 behind Kansas. Despite losing three of its final five conference games, Baylor's defense improved nicely too, yielding 68.6 points on 44.2 percent shooting per game against mostly proven opponents (Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, and TCU). Prior to this, it allowed 75.4 points per game on 48.2 percent from the floor.

The Longhorns, meanwhile, are an enigma on offense. Outside of junior Isaiah Taylor (15 ppg), coach Shaka Smart's crew does not present a dangerous scoring threat. There's an outside chance the team sees center Cameron Ridley suit up for his first game since breaking his foot in late December, providing some relief. The senior was having a career year prior to the injury, posting 12.7 points and 10 rebounds per game. Despite a lack of true scorers, though, Texas owns the 35th most efficient offense in the nation, scoring 112.2 points per 100 possessions. This is due to their fantastic ability to protect the ball, gifting just 10.4 turnovers per game. Still, its 42.5 shooting percentage in Big 12 play is better than only TCU (38.4) and Oklahoma State (40.8). Some cause for concern for Texas backers.


Final Analysis
Baylor really struggles to matchup against the conference's elite teams, going 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS versus those with a winning percentage better than 75 percent. These hapless performances really skew the numbers as a result. Otherwise, the Bears are 9-2 SU in conference with the two losses coming to Texas and Iowa State. The first team to 70 wins, and Baylor's D keeps the Longhorns in the 60s. Baylor -1 is the NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor PK
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


No.1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Kansas State (2:30 p.m. ET)
The Wildcats (6-13 SU, 9-10 ATS in B12 play) almost let an 18-point lead slip away in the first round last night, but held on for a 75-71 victory over Oklahoma State. They shot 50 percent from the floor, just the fifth time all year to reach the halfway mark in conference play. Coach Bruce Weber's men will have to maintain a strong offensive presence in this one  if they stand a chance at upsetting cross-state rival Kansas (15-3 SU, 10-7 ATS in B12 play) this afternoon. They've notched just four wins in the last 23 meetings, going 6-16-1 ATS in the process.

The Jayhawks,regular-season winners for the 12th straight season, are ranked No.1 in the country, and rightfully so. As of Wednesday, other than Virginia, they are the only team to rank in the top 10 in both offensive (sixth) and defensive (10th) efficiency. In Big 12 play, their defense particularly shined, accruing the lowest opponent field goal percentage in conference (39.2). Kansas State, meanwhile, sported the third highest field goal percentage allowed at 45.6; only TCU (47.9) and Baylor put up more (47.2).


Final Analysis
As we mentioned in our futures preview of the Big 12 championship, the Jayhawks rule this tournament, going 38-10 overall and winning the title nine out of 11 times reaching the final game. The line at -7.5 seems a little light here. Outside of two shocking defeats in Manhattan, Kansas has won by an average of 10.2 points in the last 10 meetings. The Jayhawks will flirt with a double-digit win again. Kansas -7.5 is the play.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


No. 2 West Virginia vs. TCU (7 p.m. ET)
West Virginia (13-5 SU, 12-6 ATS in B12 play) destroyed non-ranked Big 12 opponents this season. Compiling a perfect 8-0 record, it won by an average of 14.4 points. TCU (3-16 SU, 8-11 ATS in B12 play), who pulled off a stunner last night defeating a much-improved Texas Tech squad 67-62 as a 7-point dog, now gets the honors. Including last night, the Horned Frogs have won just 14 of their last 90 Big 12 games. This season showed little progression, as they rank at or near the bottom of nearly every major statistical categories.

NCAA basketball odds makers opened this one -16 in favor of the high-flying press-defense of the Mountaineers. The line slipped to -14 in overnight trading, right at the average victory margin for coach Bob Huggins men over TCU—they are 8-0 SU (2-6 ATS) since joining the conference in 2012. This season, West Virginia won both by 8 and 31 points respectively, but have bested the Texas natives by more than 14 in just three of the prior meetings. We're going to stay away from wagering on the most lopsided matchup this tournament has seen since the 2013-14 season when Baylor went off 16-point chalk against the dogs in this one.


No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Iowa State (9 p.m. ET)
Something happened to the Sooners' (12-6 SU, 6-12 ATS in B12 play) offense midway through the Big 12 schedule. Following a comfortable 95-72 home victory over TCU in early February, their shooting went ice-cold. Oklahoma is 5-4 SU and 2-7 ATS in its last nine games, scoring just 69.4 points per game on 40.9 percent from the floor. Needless to say, it has scored below market projections in all but one game by 7.5 points a night. The UNDER has struck in all but one game as well. To be fair, the Sooners have slowed the tempo down a bit, allowing 67.3 points versus 77.9 in the first half of the schedule.

The Cyclones (10-8 SU, 9-9 ATS in B12 play) are all offense. Scoring 82.0 points per game, their 50.3 shooting percentage is second-best in the nation behind St.Mary's (51.0).

Ranked Big 12 opponents are 7-3 ATS against the Sooners this season, including Iowa State who beat the number in both regular-season meetings. The Cyclones found it tough to win outright against the conference's best though, going 3-7 SU against ranked foes as opposed to 7-1 SU against non-ranked.


Final Analysis
Can the Sooners find their shooting touch? This is the big question, and the one that makes handicapping this game a chore. Iowa State has posted 83 points or more in eight of the 10 games against Big 12 ranked teams, forcing opponents into a shooting frenzy. This could either be the sparkplug the Sooners need to jumpstart their offense, or a complete disaster. Oklahoma team total UNDER 81.5 may be a sharp play, but we're going to chase the price on the best Cinderella prospect in the championship. Iowa State +135 on the money line.  

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa State +150
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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