Baylor (10-6, 2-2) takes on Texas Tech (15-2, 4-1) at 5:00 on ESPN2. The Red Raiders are four point favorites.
1) Texas Tech 3-point and free throw misses- The Red Raiders have the best defense of the KenPom era (since 2002). They hold opponents to 82.8 points per 100 possessions, which is an insane clip. They held Duke’s magnificent offense below the worst offense in the country’s average.
Given Texas Tech’s defense, the Bears probably need to get a little lucky to win this game. A bad West Virginia team nearly beat Texas Tech. They did that because Texas Tech went just 3-of-18 from three. Against a pretty good Iowa State team, Texas Tech went 6-of-15 from the line. This team has some problems shooting.
2) Get Vital in space- Mark Vital worked well in the middle of Oklahoma State’s defense. The Red Raiders will likely give him space to work. He needs to operate well:
3) Don’t give Jarrett Culver space- He’s Texas Tech’s best player and would be the Big 12 Player of the Year if the season ended today. He’s going to be a 1st round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Baylor’s zone has made some mistakes identifying the right shooter. They helped onto guys like Devon Dotson and left Lagerald Vick wide open (he went 6-of-8 from three that day). Baylor went under a Lindy Waters screen last game against the Cowboys. They can’t make those kind of mistakes against Texas Tech.
Texas Tech is at least the second best team in the league. Their defense is going to be a massive problem for Baylor. They’ll mix in a 2-3 zone and dare the Bears to shoot too.
Baylor knocked Texas Tech off in Waco last season by letting Terry Maston go to work. He’s not around this time. I hope I’m wrong, but the Red Raiders are a Final Four contender. I’ll take Texas Tech 68-60.