Big 12 Showdown: Baylor at TCU

Big 12 Showdown: Baylor at TCU

No. 17 TCU Horned Frogs vs. No. 14 Baylor Bears

Line: Baylor -2

Total: 148

Where: Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena, Fort Worth, Texas

When: Saturday, 2/11 at 4:00 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN2

No. 14 Baylor will try to continue surging in the Big 12 standings when it faces No. 17 TCU on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears have won eight of their last nine games, with seven of those wins coming in conference play following an 0-3 start. They are sitting in a four-way tie for second place in the Big 12 heading into Saturday’s slate, as Texas holds a one-game lead atop the standings. DraftKings has the Longhorns listed as the +190 ‘chalk’ to win the regular-season title, while Kansas is +210, Baylor is +400 and Iowa State is +550.

TCU is a 50-1 long shot after dropping back-to-back road games at Oklahoma State and No. 12 Kansas State, falling two games back of Texas in the standings. The Horned Frogs have already picked up one win over Baylor this season though, springing an 88-87 upset as 6-point road underdogs in early January.

On Friday afternoon, FanDuel opened Baylor as a 1.5-point road favorite for the rematch, but the Bears moved up to -2. The total opened at 149, but dropped to 148 by early Saturday. That’s 3.5 points different from the closing number of 144.5 in last month’s meeting. These teams have gone ‘over’ in 14 of their last 20 games, including nine of their last 11 in Fort Worth.

Baylor has been able to get hot following a few disappointing losses early in conference play, as it followed the 1-point loss to TCU with a 97-95 loss to Kansas State in overtime its next time out. The Bears’ only loss since then came at then-No. 10 Texas in a 76-71 final, but they have responded with double-digit wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

KenPom has them listed as the top offensive team in the country in his latest rankings. Freshman Keyonte George, who leads the way with 17.5 points per game, scored a game-high 23 points against Oklahoma.

“Y’all hear it all the time, but we just focus on controlling what we can control,” George said. “That’s playing hard, finding each other, running the floor, playing defense, and those are things you can control.”

Baylor’s ability to control those things will be tested in a tough atmosphere on Saturday against a TCU team that is desperate to get back on track. The Horned Frogs lost preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Mike Miles Jr. to a hyperextended right knee in a loss at Mississippi State on Jan. 28, and he has not played since.

TCU has struggled without its leader on the court, losing road games at Oklahoma State and Kansas State. The Horned Frogs trimmed a 13-point second-half deficit to 65-59 with less than five minutes remaining against the Wildcats, but they allowed a 17-2 run to end the game.

“We had it down to six and you would think we could battle until the end, but we kind of shut down and missed some shots and that affected (our) defense down the stretch,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “What was a closer game just got away from us.”

Damion Baugh scored a team-high 16 points and dished out five assists, but TCU was outrebounded 40-28 and committed 19 turnovers. Miles not only averages a team-high 18.1 points per game, but he scored 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting in the first meeting between these teams—he is ‘questionable’ to play on Saturday. He was named a top 10 candidate for the Bob Cousy Award on Monday, as he ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring and has reached 20 points six times.

Baylor is 6-2-1 against the spread in its last nine games, and it is 14-6 ATS in its last 20 meetings with TCU. The Horned Frogs are 11-2 in their 13 home games this season and are 8-4-1 ATS in those 13 games.

The pick: Baylor -1.5

It’s always tough to handicap a college basketball game when a star player’s status is unknown, which is the case with Miles on Saturday afternoon. I am going to lean to Baylor either way in this one, as Miles needed a heroic performance to lift his team to a win in the first meeting, and that is a lot to ask IF he returns. Baylor has turned its season around and is a clear contender in the Big 12 title chase right now, winning eight of its last nine games. The Bears have been dominant in this head-to-head series, so seeing them get swept on Saturday would certainly be a surprise.

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