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Baylor-Alabama: Three Keys and Prediction

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NCAA Basketball: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor takes on Alabama at 11:00 Saturday in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. The game is at the Ferrell Center and airs on ESPNU.

Here are three keys to the game:

1) Defensive rebounding- The Crimson Tide are 34th nationally in offensive rebounding. The Bears smaller lineups, without Tristan Clark, have held up very well on the glass. That needs to continue against the Crimson Tide.

2) Making the extra pass- Alabama has a strong 3-point defense—they’re 18th in 3-point attempts allowed. But the Crimson Tide are 339th in defensive steal rate. This is a game where Alabama is unlikely to jump passing lanes. A decent shot could become good with an extra pass.

3) Avoiding fouls- Alabama is 21st in free throw rate. Baylor is 254th in defensive foul rate. That’s probably the biggest fear: Alabama gets in the bonus early—something plenty of Baylor opponents have done—and then pulls away.

Prediction:

KenPom gives Baylor a 64% chance to win. The Bears are 3.5 point favorites in Vegas.

Baylor and Alabama are very similar. With the game in Waco, and the success the Bears have playing smaller, I think they get another victory. I’ll take Baylor 72-66.