NCAA Basketball Picks: Short Spread Favors Baylor Over Iowa State

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 2:41 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 2:41 PM GMT

Baylor has played brilliantly on the defensive end for the entire 2014-15 campaign, which provides it betting value as a slight home favorite against Iowa State.

Coming Together
Iowa State is looking to win its first three road games of the season for the first time since 1987-88, which can’t be ignored when making your NCAA basketball picks, as it comes off a 74-72 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers as 4.5-point road underdogs. The Cyclones are averaging 80.4 points per game, which happens to be the top mark among Big 12 Conference members—made possible by connecting on 49 percent of their shots and dishing out 18.7 assists a night.

Entering this high-profile matchup at the Ferrell Center, the squad has its entire starting five averaging double figures, with junior forward Georges Niang leading the way at 15.2 points a contest.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 0-3 SUATS as road underdogs of three or fewer points.

 

A Much Needed Win
Baylor snapped a two-game losing streak by outlasting TCU on the road in overtime, which is important to consider when looking over the college basketball odds, as it dropped its first two conference games against Oklahoma and Kansas. The Bears were the only Division I team to hold all non-conference opponents to 66 or fewer points, while they’ve held foes to an average of 13 points below their season averages to this point. It’s all about getting off to a good start on the defensive end—limiting opponents to under 30 first-half points in 12 of 15 contests.

Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, the squad is 1-2 SUATS as home favorites of three or fewer points, with the UNDER cashing in all three opportunities.

 

Series History
The Cyclones have won six of eight meetings in this series since Fred Hoiberg returned to Ames to coach his alma mater, but the home team has proven victorious in 21 of the last 23 installments when not played on a neutral floor. Iowa State needs to be careful in not looking past Baylor, as the student body is already looking ahead to hosting ESPN GameDay for the first time in school history Saturday night.

 

Extra Effort
The Bears are playing hard under head coach Scott Drew—clearly evident in the fact that they’ve posted equal or more second-chance points in every game this year. All five of Baylor’s starters are averaging between eight and 10 points per game, but the bench has accounted for just a single point in the last three games.  

Drew needs a reserve to step up in a big way against one of the more talented teams in the country, with most college experts pointing in the direction of Al Freeman, who has posted double figures in scoring in three of his last seven games.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Bears as one of their NCAA basketball picks, as the favorite has covered the number in six of the last seven meetings in this rivalry.

Free College Basketball Pick: Baylor Bears -1.5 at Bookmaker

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