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Iowa State at Baylor Preview and Prediction

Time to turn the season around

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a big victory against West Virginia, Iowa State (12-9, 3-6) takes on Baylor (12-10, 2-7) at 7:00 on Saturday. The game is in Waco and airs on ESPN2.

Baylor lost the first meeting in Ames, 75-65. Despite losing in the first game, Baylor should win this one. The Bears are given a 77% chance by KenPom and should open at around a five point favorite.

As always, we’ll look at playing offense against the opponent, then turn to defense. Finally, we’ll close with a prediction.

Offense:

The Bears had a terrible offensive game in the first meeting. Baylor scored just .93 points per possession (PPP). That was horrendous, given Iowa State’s defense has an adjusted average of 1.04 PPP and ranks 150th nationally.

Baylor had an abysmal shooting day. The Bears went 4-of-18 from three. Manu Lecomte and Terry Maston went a combined 4-of-22 from the field. If the Bears have a performance anywhere close to that, then they have almost no shot.

The Cyclones give up a ton of threes, so Baylor should once again have open shots. Iowa State ranks 291st in percentage of opponent shots taken from 3-point land. King McClure went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and got plenty of good looks. The Cyclones aren’t super fast rotating and don’t do the best job running around screens off the ball:

Baylor needs to have a good day on the offensive glass. Iowa State ranks 218th in defensive rebounding. Led by Tristan Clark’s five offensive rebound day, the Bears notched an offensive board on an incredible 40% of their misses. It’s really tough to lose rebounding that well, but it’s really tough to shoot as poorly as the Bears have for much of Big 12 play.

Look for Baylor to try and do a better job driving on the Cyclones. Iowa State often chooses to leave even the best 3-point shooters. Baylor attempted just seven layups or dunks in the first game. Just get into the lane, and someone should be open:

The big deal—as it has been for the season—is that Baylor has to make shots. Iowa State’s going to surrender pretty good looks. But Baylor’s missed great shots almost all season. Time to make them.

Defense:

Iowa State’s offense is okay. They rank 71st on KenPom. Their adjusted average is 1.11 PPP, and they scored 1.09 PPP against Baylor in Ames.

The Cyclones do a nice job avoiding turnovers. They rank 47th in that category, and the Bears rank 308th at forcing turnovers. With those two numbers, it’s not surprising Iowa State turned it over just nine times in Hilton Coliseum.

Lindell Wigginton, Iowa State’s star freshman, exploded for 30 points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep. He’s hit 44% of his 110 3-point attempts, so Baylor needs to watch out for him on dribble hand-offs:

The Bears played quite a bit of zone in the first game. Solomon Young works well from the nail, and the Clones can get hot from deep. It may not be a bad idea for Baylor to be primarily a man-to-man team.

Baylor may want to stay big though. If they do, they’ll likely play zone. The Bears should be able to hold Iowa State to 1.1 PPP or less in zone. I think they have a much better chance at holding Iowa State below that total in man-to-man, but they also run the risk of getting burned near the hoop or being put through a ton of pick-and-rolls.

Prediction:

Iowa State’s flashed their bright future a few times this season. Steve Prohm is an awesome coach—almost assuredly the most underrated in the league. Baylor can’t mess around and expect to win.

The Bears have a better roster and shouldn’t lose twice in one season to Iowa State. I expect Baylor to shoot much better than they did the first time and pull away late. I’ll take Baylor 78-70.

Season Prediction Record: 18-4

Against the Spread: 8-6