Just a few weeks ago, the Baylor Bears looked dead in the water. It looked as if they’re be watching March Madness on TV instead of playing in it. However, they’ve won eight of their last nine games to snap out of it and have looked worthy of a NCAA Tournament invite. A win over Oklahoma would surely boost their prospects. So who are we backing with our college basketball picks?
The Bears can win because…
They are on a roll. As mentioned, the Bears have won eight of nine and are looking like the team that everyone thought they could be in the preseason. Remember, this was a team that was pegged to have Final Four potential.
The Bears are a very balanced, complete team and they can be just as good as Oklahoma – if not better – if they bring their ‘A’ game. They shoot better than 45% from the field and average 75.1 points per game. On defense, they only give up 68.0 per game. While Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin are a stellar frontcourt, combining for 24.4 points per game, it’s guard Kenny Chery who looks like he can put this team over the top. The team slumped with him out but are 7-1 since he returned. In his past seven, he’s giving the Bears 17.7 points per game, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. He scored a season-high 29 last Saturday and is on fire right now. If he keeps this up, Baylor is advancing.
The Sooners can win because…
The Bears don’t play well against ranked teams or the Sooners, both of which are problems. The Bears are just 3-7 against ranked teams this season and 10-41 against the Sooners all-time. The Sooners are 5-1 ATS the last six times they’ve played host and 26-8 ATS in the last 34 in this series overall. The two teams have squared off twice this season and the Sooners squeaked by 66-64 in Baylor when the Bears were ranked 12th in the country. Then the Sooners pounded the Bears 88-72 when they played host in February.
While the Bears struggle against tougher competition (9-10 ATS versus teams above .500), the Sooners don’t have such issues. They are 16-8 ATS and 17-8 SU when facing teams with a winning record.
The key for the Sooners tonight will be to limit Cory Jefferson, who leads the team with 13.6 points per game and has averaged 19 points per game over his last three. He’s totaled just 19 points in two games versus Oklahoma, so if the Sooners can keep him under wraps, they’ll have a good chance to win. The Bears are 20-5 when he scores 10 or more and just 2-5 when he’s held under the number.
Outlook & Pick
The Sooners had a first-round bye while Baylor was in action last night, topping TCU 76-68. Both teams are hot, so I’ll side with the team that’s played better, more consistently throughout the season: the Sooners. They also play well in this series and have collected more wins against a tougher schedule. I’ll bank on them advancing for my college basketball picks.
College Basketball Pick: Sooners -1 at Bovada