After knocking off one of the remaining four undefeated teams in NCAA Division I Basketball over weekend, Frank Martin’s #18-ranked Kansas State Wildcats (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) prepare to take down another team with a flawless record, as the Baylor Bears (15-0, 2-0 Big 12) come to town for an exciting Big 12 showdown between two great College Basketball programs.
Coming off a tough road loss to #15 Kansas last week, the KSU Wildcats regrouped well at home on Saturday, knocking off a very good #7 Missouri squad by dominating the game almost entirely from start to finish. Riding on the back of Rodney McGruder’s 20 points, the Wildcats gave the Tigers a dose of their own medicine, completely shutting down the Big 12′s top rated scoring offense, holding Missouri to just 32.7 percent shooting from the floor in a 75-59 victory. A repeat performance against Baylor at home tonight would serve the Wildcats well, and in order to have similar success as they did against Missouri, once again defense will be a key factor for KSU. Surrendering just 61.9 points per contest on the year, Kansas State needs to take control of tonight’s game by smothering Baylor’s top scoring threats over extended periods of play (KSU held Mizzou without a basket for over 8 minutes in the first half of that game), and limit their shooting percentage from the floor. With Baylor shooting well from the floor this year at 48.4 percent and putting up 76.2 points per game, locking down one or two of the Bears top scorers will give the Wildcats a decisive advantage on home court this evening.
Kansas State should also be noted as a very good rebounding team behind Jamar Samuels (6.6 rebounds), Thomas Gipson (6.6) and Jordan Henriquez (5.7), who combined with the rest of the KSU squad are pulling down 40.4 boards per game, and getting the rebounding edge against an equally capable Baylor Bears team (averaging 39.1 rebounds) will be another key battle to watch for. That depth in the rebounding game is also reflected in the Wildcats scoring presence, which while only having 3 players in double figures, has a wealth of options to turn to for putting in buckets as 7 players are averaging better than 6.3 points per game. Nonetheless, it will be important for Kansas State to see another good performance from their leading scorer Rodney McGruder (13.2 points, 5.1 rebounds), but even more important to see all K-State players get into the scoring mix. In the 67-49 loss to Kansas last week, Will Spradling (11.7 points/game) was held to 5 points, Thomas Gipson was held to 0 points and only 3 boards, and bench scoring totaled just 10 points as the team was frustrated into shooting a meager 31.6 percent from the floor and was outrebounded 2:1 (48-24) by the more physical Jayhawks. Kansas State needs contributions from all their line-up in both the scoring and rebounding games tonight, against an equally physical and talented Baylor front.
For the Baylor Bears, tonight’s road match-up with KSU is an opportunity to break a string of 3 consecutive losses to Frank Martin’s Wildcats, and getting to that ultimate goal will hinge on how well Baylor can shoot around the perimeter, something that has historically failed them in match-ups against K-State. The Bears this season have definitely improved their form around the arc, shooting north of 40 percent from three-point range on contributions from Brady Heslip (44-89, %49.4), and Pierre Jackson (22-46, %47.8). Both Heslip and Jackson are part of a scoring front for Baylor that features 5 players in double figures, and like Kansas State, in order for Baylor to win against a good defensive side, they will need to move the ball around the perimeter well, attack open lanes, and make sure everyone contributes to the bottom line. Utilizing outside shooting with the backbone being the inside presence of leading scorers Perry Jones III (13.0 points, 7.2 rebounds/game) and Quincy Acy (12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds) will definitely give the Bears a fighting chance on the road tonight, but the shots have to be there for the Bears. Baylor has to pass the ball well and wait for the open shot, otherwise the shutdown Wildcats defense will be happy to let the Bears shoot well contested shots from outside the perimeter all night long.
Betting Lines for #5 Baylor vs. #18 Kansas State at TopBet Sportsbook
This match-up should be a great one for College Basketball fans, and the betting lines seem to back that up as the home team Kansas State Wildcats get just a slight favorite nod on the money line at TopBet, with -145 odds to win, while Baylor comes in as underdog at +125 odds. With a tight 2.5 points on the spread (-110 odds either taking K-State to cover or Baylor to stay within the spread), there’s an opportunity to take the spread if you’re chasing a Kansas State win, but for Baylor pickers, straight up on the money line looks to be the most profitable wager, especially with the points spread so low. With the betting lines off for the over/under at TopBet Sportsbook, we’ll have to hop over to another one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook, which features 133.5 points as the mark to beat or stay under. Though both sides shoot the ball well, expectations should be that one side or both turns in an excellent defensive effort tonight, which keeps the points total under 133.5 for the evening.
Our Pick to Win:
With Kansas State coming off its best showing of the year over the weekend, the Wildcats look primed to take down their second undefeated team in 3 days with a victory over the 5th-ranked Baylor Bears, but expecting a similar shutdown performance two times in a row may be a tough challenge for the Wildcats tonight. While I like the depth Kansas State has, their bench scoring still leaves something to be desired, and if one of their three main scoring threats (McGruder, Spradling, Samuels) fails to have a good shooting night, it could be tough for KSU to find someone to fill the void from the bench. While I like a Frank Martin-coached team at home, as they are disciplined, driven and won’t give up, I like the length, size and strength of Baylor matched head-to-head against them, and expect for KSU to struggle to contain the wealth of scoring threats available to the Bears, especially around the perimeter tonight. Baylor prevails in an exciting Big 12 showdown to maintain their standing as one of the last three remaining undefeated squads in NCAA Hoops, winning by a score of 68-84 tonight.