The Baylor Bears are in Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones in a Big 12 matchup on ESPN2. The Bears come into this game as a 10-point underdog after losing 3 of their last 4 games. Iowa State is playing better basketball as of late, with wins in 5 of their last 6 games. This game means a lot to both teams in the conference/NCAA Tournament picture, so I expect to see both teams “up” for this game.
Baylor Having a Weird Season
Baylor has had a really strange season with their results and strength of schedule. They played one of the weaker schedules in the country in their non-conference play and even suffered some bad losses to teams like Texas Southern and SF Austin. Their overall record and resume are not that bad though, considering the circumstances. This is mainly due to the fact that they are 2-2 against top 25 teams, including wins over Texas Tech and this Iowa State team both at home. They also played with Kansas for most of the game. All of their best performances have come at home, as their worst loss of the season was a 25-point stomping at Texas Tech, a team they had previously beaten. What this tells me about Baylor is that the line is often less important in their games than in others. What people fail to realize when betting is that some teams are just relatively polarizing and are two different teams. We have seen Baylor play with great teams and lose to bad teams, and I’ll get into how that changes my decision-making on this team.
Iowa State Looking Good
Iowa State is playing really well right now following a close loss at Kansas. Their only loss in their last 6 was to a formidable TCU team. This wasn’t a great game, but the surrounding games have convinced me to treat that game as a blip on the radar. This team has wins vs. Kansas, at Texas Tech, vs. Ole Miss, and vs. Kansas State within the last 2.5 months, which is very impressive. The other thing this team has done is to avoid bad losses. Now, they have lost to teams worse than them, but there hasn’t been a game all year that they just didn’t show up with only 2 losses by more than 5 points, and none by 15+.
The matchups that will determine this game are likely the matchups that we don’t see. Both Makai Mason and King McClure are game-time decisions after missing games recently during this skid. If Baylor is without them, they will be without 31 points and 71 minutes from these teams last meetings, which will be incredibly hard to replace. If they win, I think the scoring between McClure, who scored 25 in the last meeting, and Shayok, who scored his season average 19 in the last meeting, will be the key. Neither team is very big, especially on the offensive end, so I expect to see a guard-dominant, shooting-heavy game in this one.
Baylor Won’t Be Able to Keep Up
Picking a game with multiple key injuries is always tough, and my suggestion would be to wait until you know what is going on. If we get word that Baylor expects one of them to play, I like Baylor in this spot +10 because they are talented enough to stay competitive with this Iowa State team. If they are both out, I think I’ll take Iowa State big here, even if the line moves a little after the news. Baylor will struggle to score without these guards, similar to their game Saturday, and I think that would eventually run them out of the gym.