NCAA Basketball Picks: Baylor vs. Iowa State

Steven Suarez

Saturday, March 15, 2014 3:51 PM GMT

The Big 12 conference championship is up for grabs tonight, with the Cyclones and Bears ready to do battle. Who will go home as champions?

Odds Overview

The NCAA basketball odds have been released for all of today's action. We find the Cyclones favored by a solitary point at a good number of sportsbooks, with the O/U opening at a high number of 149.

Compare the top NCAA Basketball Championship Betting Lines

Iowa State Cyclones

After closing out the regular season with a tight win over Oklahoma State, the Cyclones have been able to keep spirits high with a good showing in the Big 12 tournament.

In the quarter-final, Iowa State got huge games out of Melvin Ejim, Dustin Hogue and Georges Niang, leading to a 91-85 win over Kansas State.

Then, last night, the Cyclones pulled away from Kansas in the second half to win 94-83. Ahead of tipoff the Cyclones were five-point underdogs at the top college basketball betting sites.

DeAndre Kane had 20 points, six assists and six rebounds, while Niang shook off eight turnovers to post 25 points and seven assists. Ejim and Hogue chipped in with 31 points and 14 rebounds between them, as Iowa State shot 54.0 percent overall and 57.9 percent from three.

It was more of the same for a Cyclones squad that's averaged 83.2 points per game this season. They're more than happy to get involved in shootouts, as they know they have the personnel to outscore and persevere in the end.

Baylor Bear

The Bears sure picked the right time to start playing their best basketball. They've looked fantastic in the tournament so far and have won six straight and 10 of their last 11 heading into tonight's contest.

The run through the tournament started with a 76-68 win over TCU, but the true tests have come over the last couple of rounds. Baylor escaped with a 78-73 victory against Oklahoma, but then turned on the style in a dominating 86-69 triumph over Texas last night.

Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, Royce O'Neale and Brady Heslip all made their presences felt in the win.

Jefferson was excellent, scoring 20 points with 13 rebounds and three blocks. Austin had 10 points, five boards and seven blocks, while O'Neale had eight points, 10 rebounds and two steals. The sharpshooting Heslip nailed six threes on his way to a game-high 24 points. It was arguably the best all-around performance from Baylor this season.

Can they rise to the occasion against Iowa State? Their recent play has been terrific, but the Cyclones have been just as good lately, meaning Baylor has to show up ready to compete from the opening tipoff.

College Basketball Pick

Before making our final NCAA basketball picks, let's talk about the regular season meetings between these conference foes.

Each team won on their home court, with Iowa State winning 87-72 as 7.5-point favorites and then Baylor getting a 74-61 victory as 3-point favorites a couple months later.

Who will win round three? We have to go with the Cyclones, who have been incredibly efficient offensively, putting up 85+ points in three straight games against three of the better teams in the Big 12 in Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. They're getting production from all over the court and that's been a common theme this season.

This Iowa State team appears to be on a mission and we foresee them doing enough to get the win.

Pick: Iowa State Cyclones -1

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