Home Court Advantage Makes Baylor Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Texas

Willie Bee

Monday, February 1, 2016 1:56 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 1:56 PM UTC

Texas has struggled on the Big 12 highway this season, and the Longhorns are in for another strong test Monday at Baylor. Let's review who will be in our NCAA basketball picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor -4½ 
Best Line Offered: at The Greek


Welcome to February, this year's second month including an extra day thanks to man's obsession with controlling time. Even with that extra sunrise and sunset, don't expect anything to be resolved in the race for the Big 12 regular season crown where six teams enter the month within a game of each other at the top of the ranks.

Two of the teams battling it out in the conference help us tip off another great week of college basketball betting when the Texas Longhorns travel up I-35 to Waco to meet the Baylor Bears. ESPN will broadcast the contest from Ferrell Center starting at 9 PM (ET), and the Bears are giving up 4½ to 5 points after opening -6½ on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds.

The total is currently sitting on 139 at The Greek, and showing signs of dropping at least a half-point if not more by game time.

Monday is the first of two scheduled meetings between the old rivals this season, Baylor returning the visit to Austin in about three weeks. The Longhorns hold a very lopsided 161-84 advantage in the series, thanks to one stretch of 24 consecutive victories that the Bears finally broke in 2009, but Baylor has the edge since then by winning nine of 15 clashes.

The schools split their schedule last season, each winning on its own home floor. Baylor crushed the Longhorns in Waco, 83-60, as 2½ point chalk behind deft outside shooting with 12-of-20 successful attempts from beyond the arc. Taurean Prince scored 13 off the bench for the Bears while Rico Gathers grabbed 15 boards, six on the offensive end. The final was more than enough to get past a 127 point total, leaving the 'over' 3-1 in the last four games at Ferrell Center.


'Horns Begin Difficult Big 12 Stretch On Schedule
Texas (14-7 straight up, 9-11 against the spread) spent last week at home posting a pair of victories that Shaka Smart hopes got his team ready for an extremely tough stretch on the schedule. Monday's match at Baylor starts a 6-game stretch during which the Longhorns will play five ranked teams, half of those games coming on the road.

All three of Texas' losses in the Big 12 have come on the road, including an embarrassing 58-57 upset at TCU a little more than three weeks ago. The Longhorns were favored by 3 in that contest that ended a 4-game losing skid against the spread. They have since covered five of six tilts.

Smart's side wasn't exactly on fire offensively in Saturday's 72-58 takedown of Vanderbilt, but Texas made up for that with some nice error-free play (just 6 turnovers) and fine defense where the Longhorns came away with 10 steals. Kerwin Roach Jr. came up big off the bench with a double-double (15 pts, 11 reb) while adding four steals.


Big 2nd Half Lifts Bears Past Bulldogs
Baylor (17-4 SU, 5-9-1 ATS) also won twice last week, using a big run in the second half to get past Georgia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Bears weren't able to cover the 11½ point odds in the 83-73 victory, but the dubya did leave them 13-1 at home this season -- 16-1 last 17 in Waco -- with the only loss coming to top-ranked Oklahoma about a week ago.

Head coach Scott Drew was happy with his team's offense in the win over the Bulldogs, and why not? The Bears committed just eight turnovers while dishing out 19 assists, and they sank 7-of-17 tries from 3-point range. Still, it marked the third straight contest the Bears had allowed their opponents to connect on 50% or better from the field, and without a 28-15 advantage at the free throw line, it could've easily been an upset loss.

Baylor should have an advantage inside tonight, and that's why the Bears will be my free NCAA basketball pick.

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