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Baylor-Texas Tech Preview and Prediction

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The Bears look to hit 19-1

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

Baylor (18-1, 6-1) hosts Texas Tech (14-5, 3-4) at 7:00 on Wednesday. The game will air on ESPNews.

This is a game Baylor should win, but Texas Tech is an interesting matchup for the Bears. Texas Tech’s perimeter defense is their big weakness. The Red Raiders are just 259th in 3-point defense, and they’ve allowed the 11th highest percentage of 3-point attempts, according to KenPom. Oklahoma even nailed 11 of 16 against them:

The Bear’s offensive weakness has been turning the ball over and making 3-point shots. Hopefully Tech’s poor 3-point defense will wake up the Bear’s 3-point attack, but if not, Tech could make this closer than expected because Tech is a pretty solid team at turning over opponents and limiting shots from inside the perimeter. Still, Tech has given up their fair share of dunks:

The above clip shows Texas Tech threw out full-court pressure against Kansas for a moment. Baylor has struggled at times with the press, but the Bears did much better against TCU’s version of the press, and with Tech not exactly being West Virginia with the press, hopefully the Bears can get some plays like this:

Tech’s offense is led by 6’8 junior Zach Smith. Smith is excellent in the midrange, but he can also step out and make 3-point looks:

Tech is a solid team at just about everything offensively. They rank 33rd overall in offense on KenPom, and they are ranked fifth in avoiding blocks and 18th in 2-point offense.

Tech has two elite 3-point shooters, so Baylor may forego the zone for much of this one. Despite that fact, Tech ranks 276th in percentage of shots taken from deep, but Keenan Evans and Anthony Livingston are both elite 3-point shooters. Tech upset Baylor in Waco last season by hitting 9 of 16 3-point shots. The Bears will have to ensure Tech does not get the looks they got last season, and Baylor’s guards should be able to stay in front of Tech’s guards in man-to-man.

The Red Raiders were just thrashed in Stillwater. Phil Forte and Jeffrey Carroll combined to go 8 of 9 from 3-point range, and they were dominated in just about every facet of the game. Baylor is a very different team from Oklahoma State, but it’s not a good sign when an opponent fares that poorly in Stillwater (the future is very bright at Oklahoma State though).

Prediction

Baylor absolutely has to win this game to win the Big 12. West Virginia lost to Oklahoma last week, and the Mountaineers are basically out of the Big 12 title picture as a result. Baylor cannot suffer the kinds of home losses they have in recent seasons, or they’ll quickly find themselves in the same spot as West Virginia.

The Bears—as they are with everyone 4-8 in the league—are a decent clip better than Texas Tech. The Red Raiders lack anybody as good as Johnathan Motley, and they’re offense doesn’t have someone who should be able to get hot against the Bears.

My concern for Baylor is that Texas Tech has those moments where they play very well. Tech has some good 3-point shooters, and they beat West Virginia and Kansas State. But the Bears are at home and should be able to limit Texas Tech.

Baylor simply has too much talent and is at home. Texas Tech will have to get ridiculously hot from 3-point range and the Bears will need to go ice cold. Those things can happen in college basketball, but those things should not happen in this particular matchup. I’ll take Baylor 70-59.