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Baylor-Texas Tech: Preview and Prediction

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Baylor looks to stay in the Big 12 race

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor (25-3, 14-2) looks to bounce back against Texas Tech (18-11, 9-7) at 8:00 on Monday in Waco. The game airs on ESPN.

The Bears won the Lubbock game 57-52. They’re a 78% favorite on KenPom.

After a bad loss to TCU, Baylor takes on a Texas Tech team that has lost their last two games, to Oklahoma and Texas, by a combined 24 points. The Red Raiders will be desperate to get back on track and avoid landing on the bubble.

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

Offense:

Baylor scored .92 points per possession in Lubbock. They were the most successful on the offensive glass, rebounding 53% of their misses. Texas Tech isn’t great at stopping offensive rebounding either, so that’s probably a repeatable tactic.

Texas Tech’s defense is very similar to Baylor’s. Mark Adams, Texas Tech’s assistant, designed a no middle defense. Baylor copied that defense and made a few adjustments. Their goal is to limit middle drives. They’ll ice ball screens on the side, which means the goal is to force the ball handler to drive toward the sideline and not get into the paint. Davion Mitchell managed to get middle some though:

The Red Raiders, even though their full season numbers don’t bear this out, can give up a ton of threes. Their defense relies on helping to make 2-point scoring and getting to the rim incredibly difficult. Texas attempted nearly 50% of their shots from beyond the arc. Although Baylor struggled from deep against TCU, this is a good game for the Bears to hit threes again. Matt Mayer should get some chances:

The bottom line for Baylor is that they have to shoot much better than they did against TCU. The Bears probably can’t be as anemic from beyond the arc as they were in the first meeting because Texas Tech should make a few more shots.

Defense:

On January 7th, Baylor held Texas Tech to .84 points per possession. The Red Raiders went 7-of-23 from three.

Chris Beard runs a motion offense. They like to work out of different sets, including horns, where they’ll have their two big men at the elbow (the left and right edge of the free throw line).

Chris Clarke, a Virginia Tech transfer, has had a disappointing season. But he’s still very talented. His passing is a unique challenge:

Beard will have Texas Tech run a bunch of middle ball screens. They did that in Lubbock, and Baylor struggled to defend that action against Kansas and TCU. Baylor will probably have the guards fight over those screens and drop Freddie Gillespie or Mark Vital near the hoop. The Red Raiders don’t have the big men to destroy Baylor like Kansas did with Udoka Azubuike.

Jahmi’us Ramsey is the best non-Baylor or non-Kansas player in the league. He scored 20 points and drilled 5-of-10 threes in the first meeting. After Desmond Bane went off in Fort Worth, Baylor should do a better job focusing on an opponent’s best player.

Davide Moretti played horribly in round one. He missed open threes, finishing 0-of-6 from three. He also missed a big free throw late. He should play better this time.

Prediction:

Baylor has a better team than Texas Tech. If anyone thinks the Bears are spiraling because they lost 2-of-3, one of those losses is to Kansas and the other involved Bane going unconscious while Baylor couldn’t make a three. Texas Tech has been far worse than Baylor the last 10 days, and they host Kansas to end the season.

Having the better team matters. Texas Tech is capable of winning this game—23% events happen every day—but Baylor is better and performed well after their lost to Kansas. They’ll answer again tomorrow. I’ll take Baylor 68-62.