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Baylor-TCU Preview and Prediction

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The Bears face the best TCU squad in the Big 12 era

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor (17-1, 5-1) takes on TCU (14-4, 3-3) at 7:00 on Saturday in Ft. Worth. The game will air on ESPNU.

This is by far the best TCU team of the Big 12 era. Jamie Dixon is in his first season back at his alma mater, and he’s already recruiting well. The Frogs are built to be good for a while. The days of showing up and crushing TCU are over.

TCU may have the second best big man in the Big 12 in Vladimir Brodziansky. Brodziansky has the 14th highest offensive rating on KenPom. The 6’11 junior dropped 28 on Kansas and 25 against Iowa State. Brodziansky can score inside and step out a bit too:

The Frogs also have skilled guard play. Freshman Jaylen Fisher shoots 36% from 3-point range, and he’s made some skilled passes while playing shooting guard. And Alex Robinson, the point guard, has a top 50 assist rate on KenPom.

TCU’s offensive weakness is turning the ball over. The Frogs rank 175th in turnover percentage on KenPom. TCU often has odd traveling violations and tries to get too cute passing. Some of that is a reflection of being so young and a sign of how small the climb is before TCU takes that next leap.

TCU struggles to defensive rebound and contain 3-point shooters. TCU ranks 189th in defensive rebounding and 204th in 3-point defense on KenPom. Motley should be able to do this a decent bit:

The Bear’s challenge on offense will be avoiding turnovers. TCU ranks 80th in defensive turnover rate, and the Bears rank 246th in offensive turnover rate on KenPom. If the game goes poorly, the Bears will probably turn it over too often. Hopefully Motley can make quick passes when TCU brings the inevitable double team:

As mentioned, with TCU’s poor 3-point defense, the Bears should look to take those shots. The Bears have struggled from deep at times, but taking those shots against Kansas State blew the game open. And given TCU’s struggles with defensive rebounding, hopefully this shot is there for Freeman:

Prediction:

This is a tough game to predict. Baylor has not lost to TCU since the Frogs joined the league in 2012. But this TCU team would destroy the earlier TCU squads.

Winning on the road is always tough in conference play. Even winning at home can be a struggle, just ask West Virginia about that after they fell to Oklahoma in Morgantown this week. The Frogs should get a friendly whistle, which could put the Bears in foul trouble.

But the Bears have the pieces to score a ton against TCU. Landen Lucas, Zach Smith, and other big men have done well against the Frogs. Coming off a 32 point performance against Texas, Motley should be able to score consistently. And if the Frogs take him away, then the Bears should have good 3-point looks.

I think the Bears still have a little too much offense for TCU. The Frogs could absolutely win this game, especially if the Bears have the 3-point skid they had early in conference play. But if the Bears have a good game, they’re a little too talented. I’ll take Baylor 72-67.