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Baylor-Incarnate Word: Three Things to Watch

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The season starts today!

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Champions-Baylor Celebration Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Baylor takes on Incarnate Word at 7:30 tonight at the Ferrell Center. The game airs on ESPN+.

The Bears will raise the national championship banner and have a ring ceremony at 6:45. You can watch that on ESPN+ or Baylor men’s basketball’s Twitter account.

Baylor’s a 99.9% favorite on KenPom.

Three Things:

1) Who starts for Baylor? The Bears have not announced a starting lineup. It seems like James Akinjo, Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer will start. Then Flo Thamba, as a returning starter and senior, could slot in too. Then it feels like any of Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Kendall Brown, Jeremy Sochan or LJ Cryer could nab the final slot.

My guess is that either Tchamwa Tchatchoua or Brown gets the nod.

2) How do the two freshmen look? Langston Love will miss the season with a torn ACL. But the other freshmen have received rave reviews. They’ll be counted on this season, so we’ll see how they display in college.

3) How’s the defense look? Baylor will stick to its modified no middle defense that overwhelmed opponent’s last year. But without Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital, Jared Butler and MaCio Teague, how does the crew do? The opponent tonight isn’t Kansas. Incarnate Word’s players are still vastly better than I could have ever hoped to be at basketball, but Incarnate Word doesn’t possess the athleticism that Baylor faces in the Big 12. Still, we’ll get a first look at how Baylor handles rotations and trapping situations.

Prediction:

Baylor closed as a 33.5 point favorite. I would remind anyone betting on this game that it’s not good to gamble on games like this (I never bet myself; and I don’t encourage anyone else to gamble). You’re betting on how early teams elect to put in walk-ons, or how much anyone is distracted by pregame festivities.

I’ll say Baylor covers after getting hyped by the pregame stuff. I’ll take Baylor 90-54.