A Big 12 showdown between two top-twenty teams tips off on ESPN at 4 PM ET.
Texas Tech won their third in a row with an 81-54 victory against Iowa State as a 17.5-point favorite on Thursday. Mac McClung scored 20 points, with the junior leading the team with a 16.4 points-per-game scoring average.
Chris Beard’s team is ranked 18th nationally by the Associated Press with a 17-8 record. This group is likely his most talented team in his five years as head coach of this program. While he lost three starters from the team that finished 18-13 last season, he was aggressive in attracting some high-level transfers while bringing in a good freshman class to join junior Kyler Edwards and sophomore Terrence Shannon. Some of the depth Beard had established diminished when five-star freshman Nimari Burnett decided to leave the team to transfer to another school midseason. He was averaging 17.7 minutes-per-game but only scoring 5.3 points-per-game. McClung is a transfer from Georgetown who has adapted to Beard’s system to lead the team with a 16.9 points-per-game scoring average. Shannon is second on the team by scoring 12.5 points-per-game.
The Red Raiders are once again an outstanding defensive team under Beard. They are 17th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. Texas Tech is tenth in the country by forcing turnovers in 23.7% of their opponent’s possessions. This team thrives in getting second-chance shots as they pull down 33.6% of their missed shots, 31st in the country. They also get to the free-throw line as they rank 17th in free throw rate. The weakness of this team is shooting the basketball. The Red Raiders make only 33.9% of their 3-pointers and 49.2% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 160th and 196th, respectively. Kenpom ranks their adjusted offensive efficiency at 35th nationally.
Texas Tech improved to 9-7 in the Big 12, leaving them in seventh place. They have been defeated twice by Kansas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State, with an additional loss to these Bears. They lost to Houston in non-conference action. Their highest-profile victories come from a pair of wins against Texas and Oklahoma each and LSU in non-conference play.
Baylor clinched the Big 12 regular-season title on Tuesday with a 94-89 overtime win at West Virginia. The Bears followed that up on Thursday with an 81-70 victory at home against Oklahoma State as a 12.5-point favorite. Jared Butler scored 22 points to improve the junior’s team-high 17.1 points-per-game scoring average. Mario Teague added 19 points. The senior second on the team with a 14.9 points-per-game average. Matthew Mayer also poured in 19 points. The junior is fifth on the team with an 8.6 points-per-game average. Scott Drew has a deep rotation with nine players averaging over 12 minutes per game. Drew had six players return from the Baylor rotation that finished 26-4 last year.
The Bears are 3-1 since returning from a three-week COVID hiatus. They rank third nationally by the AP with a 20-1 record. They have high-profile victories against Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas, Oklahoma State (twice), Texas, West Virginia, and these Red Raiders. The lone blemish on their resume is a 71-58 loss at Kansas on February 27th.
Baylor is third-best nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to kenpom. They lead the nation with a 42.0% shooting percentage from 3-point land. They rank fourth in offensive rebounding by grabbing 37.1% of their missed shots. Drew’s team is also the 25th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They force turnovers in 25.3% of their opponent’s possessions, ranking third nationally.
If there was a weakness to this team, it is with their defensive rebounding. Baylor allows their opponents to rebound 30.9% of their missed shots, 279th in the nation. The Bears do not get many freebies on the charity stripe, given a free throw rate that ranks 291st nationally.
Baylor won the first meeting between these two teams in Lubbock by a 68-60 score as a 4.5-pint favorite on January 16th. BookMaker
lists the Bears as an 8-point favorite with the total set at 137.
Computer prediction: Baylor 70 Texas Tech 64