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Baylor at West Virginia: Three Keys and Prediction

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

Baylor (11-6, 3-2) takes on West Virginia (9-9, 1-5) at 8:00 in Morgantown. The game airs on ESPNU.

West Virginia’s a three point betting favorite. KenPom gives the Mountaineers a 51% chance to win.

Three Keys:

1) Defensive rebounding- West Virginia ranks 9th in offensive rebounding. Baylor’s smaller look without Tristan Clark has rebounded pretty well—especially with King McClure and guards crashing the glass. But Baylor can’t give the Mountaineers too many extra shots.

2) Turnovers- Press Virginia is hibernating, as the Mountaineers don’t have the depth to press full-time. But they forced 18 turnovers in a huge upset against Kansas. Baylor makes some lackadaisical plays. I’d guess Baylor will try to get Mark Vital space to work and will count on Jared Butler creating out of their ball screen continuity offense and out of “eye”—a look where two big men set parallel screens and two shooters camp in the corner (a variation of the popular “horns” set).

3) 3-point shooting- The Bears have the most efficient offense during Big 12 play. They’ve done that by blasting away from three. After the Texas Tech game, Makai Mason said they expect to shoot like that, and they thought their non-conference shooting was an anomaly.

Prediction:

I haven’t kept track, but this has been by far my worst year predicting Baylor basketball results. I also thought the team would shoot well early, then I thought they were doomed when Clark went out.

Baylor has a better team than West Virginia. Kansas missed a ton of shots and Lagerald Vick made the wrong decision on two big possessions. The Bears have played well in close games, knocking down free throws down the stretch and avoiding turnovers when pressed. I think Baylor wins a close one, 70-66.