BIG 12 NCAA Basketball Picks: Top Seeds Vie For Shot At Title

Jay Pryce

Friday, March 11, 2016 2:09 PM GMT

The Big 12 championship is sticking to the script with four of the top five seeds vying for a shot at the title. Check out tonight's game previews here for valuable NCAA basketball picks.

The Big 12 Semifinals see four ranked teams, in arguably the nation's toughest conference, duke it out for a shot at the title on Sunday. The first game pits No. 22 Baylor and No.1 Kansas (7 p.m. ET) against each other, followed by a coin-flip matchup between No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 9 West Virginia (9 p.m. ET).

 

No. 22 Baylor vs. No. 1 Kansas
The top-ranked Jayhawks (16-3 SU, 12-7 ATS in B12 play) are 15-3 SU and 12-5-1 ATS in the last 18 meetings against the Bears (11-8 SU, 10-8-1 ATS in B12 play), including winning and covering in both tilts this season: first, a 102-74 win in Lawrence, followed up by a 66-60 come-from-behind victory in Waco.

Since a late-season, out-of-conference 90-84 overtime home win versus blue-chip Kentucky on January 30, the Jayhawks defense has been darn right nasty. Including yesterday's blowout of Kansas State, the unit has allowed 63.4 points on 36.6 percent shooting in its last 11 games. Only two teams (Oklahoma, Iowa State) have even reached the 70-point mark.

Baylor's at its best when the offense is firing. Its 117.9 points per 100 possessions is the 10th most efficient in the nation, and second-best in the Big 12 behind Kansas (120.3). Despite losing three of its final five regular-season 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.

Baylor is 3-8 SU and ATS against offenses posting 75 points or more a night. The defense fails to slow them down, allowing 79.4 points on 49.3 percent shooting. Most of these contest occurred in Big 12 play, where the Bears struggled to matchup against the conference's elite, going 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS versus those with a winning percentage better than 75 percent.

 

Final Analysis
Kansas' defense is likely to be the star in this game. Self's crew offer plenty of matchup problems for the Bears, particularly down low with a cast of veteran forwards led by leading scorer Perry Ellis (16.6 ppg). The 5-point spread is a couple too few. Jayhawks beat the number by a bucket or more. Kansas is the sharp NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas -6
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 West Virginia
Including last night's 86-66 rout of TCU, the Mountaineers (14-5 SU, 13-6 ATS in B12 play) are averaging 82.4 points on 47.8 percent shooting in their current five-game win streak. As any college basketball fan knows, the team's success both offensively and defensively depends on the full-court press. The scheme operates symbiotically in many ways. To execute is well on defense, the team has to score, allowing it to set up and pressure opponents who must venture the ball up the length of the court. But it's performance on defense allows for the offense to flourish, generating plenty of extra scoring chances via turnovers. “Press Virginia” as coach Bob Huggins' squad has been aptly nicknamed, lead the nation with 18.0 forced takeaways and 11.4 extra looks per game.

We mentioned this in yesterday's write-up, but it bears repeating: something dreadful happened to the Sooners' (13-6 SU, 6-13 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. Including yesterday's 79-76 triumph over Iowa State, Oklahoma is 6-4 SU and 2-8 against the NCAA basketball odds in its last 10 games, scoring just 70.4 points per game on 41.3 percent from the floor. Needless to say, it has scored below market projections in all but one game by an average of 7 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 68.2 points per contest versus 77.9 in the first half of the schedule.

 

Final Analysis
Ranked Big 12 opponents are 8-3 ATS versus the Sooners this season, yet Oklahoma almost always finds a way to win. That's what veteran teams do. Lon Kruger's squad is 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS against the Mountaineers in the last 10 meetings, but two of the four failed covers have come since Huggins implemented the press at the start of the 2014 season. We got a little greedy yesterday, bypassing the UNDER Oklahoma team total in favor of the Iowa State money line. Burned. Tonight, we'll stick to our guns. The Sooners have failed to hit their mark on offense in nine out of the last 10 games, and their defense will likely slow West Virginia down. One of these two teams have shot 34 percent or below from the field in the last three showdowns, and it wouldn't shock to see another wretched offensive performance from one tonight. UNDER is the play.  

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 147
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker