Big 12 Battle: Texas at Baylor

Big 12 Battle: Texas at Baylor

Texas Longhorns at Baylor Bears

Line: Baylor -4

Total: 149

Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas

When: Saturday, 2/25 at 2:00 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Another key game atop the Big 12 standings will take place on Saturday afternoon when No. 8 Texas travels to No. 9 Baylor.

The Longhorns are tied with Kansas for first place in the standings heading into Saturday’s slate, while Baylor is in a tie with Kansas State two games back of Texas and Kansas. FanDuel has the Jayhawks priced as -270 favorites to win the regular season title, with Texas at +175 and Baylor third as a 50-1 longshot.

More importantly for both of these teams are their NCAA Tournament title odds, which feature Baylor at 19-1 and Texas at 23-1. The Longhorns notched a 76-71 win as 4-point home underdogs when they faced Baylor on Jan. 30 in a game that went slightly ‘under’ 148.5 points.

“The great thing about the Big 12 is there are Quad 1 opportunities each and every night,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “There are top-25 games every night. That’s why Keyonte (George) and these guys came to Baylor, to be the best in the conference. I’ve been here 20 years, and it’s the best it’s ever been, top to bottom.”

Oddsmakers at offshore sportsbook BetOnline opened Baylor as a 3-point favorite for Saturday’s rematch. The total opened a tick higher at 151.5 on Friday afternoon. By late Saturday morning, most spots had the Bears at -4 with the total down to 149 points.

Texas has gone ‘over’ the total in 13 of its last 20 games, while Baylor has gone ‘under’ in seven of its last 10 games.

The Longhorns have won two straight and three of their last four games, cruising to a 72-54 win over No. 23 Iowa State at home on Tuesday. They led by as many as 20 points in the first half and never let the lead slip below 13 points following halftime.

Texas has been strong on both ends of the court this season, but it has been its No. 12 offense (KenPom) that has really stood out. The Longhorns are shooting nearly 55% from 2-point range are knocking down almost 75% of their free-throw attempts. They have the seventh-most experienced roster in college basketball, but they are 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 road games.

The Longhorns had lost six straight games against Baylor prior to their win earlier this season, and they have only covered once in the last six meetings. They are winless in their last five trips to Waco.

“We’re gonna play a really good team on their home court—an elite-level team, top-10 team in the country,” Texas interim coach Rodney Terry said. “It’s really important that we manage our guys to where they are able to be fresh, excited about still being in the gym and wanting to compete at a high level from an energy standpoint.”

Baylor tends to feed off the energy from the crowd at the Ferrell Center, where the Bears are riding a six-game winning streak. They will be excited to return home following a pair of road losses to No. 5 Kansas and No. 14 Kansas State.

The Bears rank second in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency ratings, shooting 74.7% from the charity stripe and 36.6% from 3-point range along with ranking inside the top 15 nationally on the offensive glass. Their biggest issue against Kansas State was allowing 19 points on turnovers.

George leads Baylor with 16.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while Adam Flagler (15.6) and LJ Cryer (14.9) have been key weapons again this year as well. They are facing a Texas defense that is No. 30 in adjusted efficiency and No. 24 in turnover rate, but the Longhorns are No. 212 on the defensive glass.

The pick: Baylor -4

Home-court advantage can completely change the dynamic of a basketball game (see Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum vs. on the road), and it is the reason I am rolling with Baylor in this rematch. These are two offensive-minded teams that are built to play much better at home than on the road, and it has shown up in their respective records. Baylor is 13-2 (9-6 ATS) at home, while Texas is just 4-4 (3-5 ATS) in its eight road games. The Bears are motivated to snap their two-game losing streak and get revenge for last month’s loss to Texas, and they have the experience and firepower needed to get the job done on Saturday afternoon.

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