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Baylor-Texas Tech: Three Keys and Prediction

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The Bears look to maintain the lead in the Big 12 title race

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Baylor (11-0, 4-0) takes on No. 15 Texas Tech (11-3, 4-2) at 3:00 in Lubbock. The game airs on ESPN.

We’ll return to longform previews for the Kansas game, but with some player profiles, those have taken a backseat lately.

The Bears are four point favorites.

Three Keys:

1) Take Triples- Texas Tech runs a no middle defense, which is the inspiration for Baylor’s defense. The Texas Tech version provides a bit more help than the Bears, which means they allow quite a few threes. The Red Raiders are 148th in preventing 3-point attempts.

The Bears will have chances to fling the ball from one side to the other as the Red Raiders will overload the strong side, especially on some pick-and-rolls (though they’ll play a lot of ice coverage and try and contain the ball with two defenders too). The Bears should count on Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell to make those passes and hit shots.

2) Limit Mac McClung- Davion Mitchell earned the nickname “off night” because his opponent always seems to just have an off night when playing against his hounding defense. McClung isolates and scores a ton of Texas Tech’s points, which makes it imperative the Bears don’t let him go off for 30. He hit the game winning triple against Texas earlier this week, and he carried them late in a near victory against Kansas.

3) Win the rock fight- Baylor and Texas Tech are the two toughest teams in the Big 12. Each will dive for loose balls and beat you up for rebounds. The Bears are on the road, in an arena that’s very loosely following the capacity requirements. This will be the most hostile environment Baylor plays in all season. The Bears need to win the 50-50 battles to prevent Texas Tech from hanging around and then allowing a McClung run to end them.

Prediction:

Texas Tech could this game, given they’re a top 15 team playing at home. KenPom gives them a 37% chance to win.

Baylor’s due for a few guys to return to form, and I expect Davion Mitchell to have a big day and Mark Vital to play well defensively. I’ll take Baylor 68-60.