NCAA Basketball Picks: Take Baylor +7.5 vs. Oklahoma In Huge Big 12 Game

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 1:51 PM GMT

It's March, and Oklahoma is headed in the wrong direction. Can they stave off another upset against a Baylor team that has won six of its last seven conference road games? NCAAB pick inside.

It's Senior Night in Norman as No. 19 Baylor and No. 6 Oklahoma clash in the Lloyd Noble Center. The Bears have won six of their last seven Big 12 games on the road, four of which they tipped off underdogs. Can the men from Waco pull off another stunner and avenge a devastating home loss to the Sooners last season? Doubtful, but they should give hang tough.

 

Baylor Bears (21-8 SU, 9-15 ATS)
Baylor had few answers against the Sooners last season, slipping to an 82-71 defeat as a 1-point favorite in Waco. The visitors shot an astonishing 62 percent from the field with starting backcourt tandem, senior guard Buddy Hield and junior Jordan Woodward, burying nine of 15 from behind the three-point line. The Bears may be leaky again in the zone in this game. Their 37.3 opponent three-point rate ranks 299th nationally.

Offensively, the Bears are the sixth most efficient in the land, scoring 119.2 points per 100 possessions. They play slightly uptempo and work effectively to find open shots. As a result, their .666 assist-per-field-goal made rate is third best nationally. Marks' men may find it tough to uncover too many easy opportunities tonight. Oklahoma owns the fourth-best opponent assist-to-field-goal made rate (.420) in the nation. Baylor's frontcourt, though, picks up a lot of extra-scoring chances with its 39.9 percent offensive rebound rate. Rico Gathers, who rips down 10 boards per game overall, is the Big 12 leader in the category.

Following their 78-64 win over Texas in Austin as 5.5-point dogs three games ago, the Bears have now gone OVER the total in 69 percent (48-22-2) of Big 12 road games when spotted points under Drew. They're a perfect 5-0 this season. Typically, the defense lets the team down, yielding 77.3 points per game to opponents. This season, with the sped-up shot clock and other rule changes increasing scoring slightly, Baylor has given up 81.4 per contest, allowing conference hosts to score 5.4 points more than their projected team total on average.

 

Oklahoma Sooners (22-6 SU, 12-15 ATS)
Six seniors will be honored in their final home game tonight, including Oklahoma's two top-scoring threats: National Player of the Year contender Hield and Isiah Cousins (Ryan Spangler, C.J. Cole, Dinjiyl Walker and Austin Mankin makeup the rest). Coach Lon Kruger will need these guys to feed off the crowd and energize a Sooners team looking less like a Final Four candidate over their last several games.

Oklahoma is just 3-4 SU and 2-5 against the NCAA basketball odds in its last seven games, all in conference. The offense is sputtering. Per contest, it is scoring 8.7 points below oddsmakers projections in the stretch, putting in 68.1 points on a lowly 39.4 from the field.

Despite the shooting slump, Oklahoma still ranks as one of the nation's most efficient on offense, scoring 116.7 points per 100 possessions (15th). Kruger's squad typically lights it up from downtown with the second-best success rate in the nation (42.8); though they are only shooting 33 percent over the last seven. Hield, a dead-eye shooter and candidate for No.1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, is the man from downtown. His 4.2 treys per game is tops in the nation.

For live bettors out there: the Sooners have made some key adjustments to close out games when trailing at halftime. Although they are 0-8 ATS in these contests overall, they have come back to outscore their opponents in the second half in all but one game by an average margin of 5.1 points.

 

Final Analysis
I don't expect Baylor to pull off the outright upset, but they should hang tough against a sliding Sooners squad. Oklahoma is 21-4 all-time versus the Bears in Norman, and have won 13 of 14 at home this season; its lone loss to No. 1 Kansas 76-72. Three of the four losses have come in the last seven games, however. Baylor +7.5 is the NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor +7.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes