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Baylor-Iowa State: Three Keys, Prediction and How to Watch

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NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Baylor (17-0, 9-0) takes on Iowa State (2-16, 0-13) at 7:00 tonight in Waco. The game airs on ESPN+.

Baylor will play its first game in 21 days because of a COVID-19 pause.

Scott Drew announced at Tuesday’s press conference that they’ll release who will miss the game because of COVID-19 one hour before tip.

The Bears had their first practice since the shutdown on Sunday. Jared Butler said they were able to play five-on-five, so Butler will play, and there are at least nine other guys ready to go.

Iowa State kept it closer than expected in the first meeting. The Bears went 4-of-19 from three and had 17 turnovers. Despite struggles in those two categories, Baylor won by 11 in Ames.

Three Keys:

1) Let the hot hand go off- Baylor does a nice job finding and having the player that’s playing well keep shooting. That’s especially important tomorrow. With reduced workouts for the guys that avoided the protocol, tons of guys might be rusty. If someone hits a couple shots, let them keep firing.

2) Contain Solomon Young- In the original meeting, the Bears let Young torch them from the elbow and with deep paint touches. The Bears need to do a better job handling him. While the game isn’t over if he scores 15 points again, Baylor should make someone else beat them.

3) Don’t get rattled- There’s a giant talent gap. Baylor hasn’t lost a Big 12 game. Iowa State hasn’t won a Big 12 game. If Iowa State gets a lead because the Bears haven’t played in 21 days, then Baylor needs to hold steady. Over 40 minutes, Baylor is a giant favorite. The Bears need to just keep the game manageable, and they should eventually pull away.

Prediction:

Maybe the Bears forgot how to play basketball. Or maybe every guy taller than 6’5 will be in the COVID-19 protocol, and this will be a disaster.

I’m not sold on that. Evan Miyakawa’s finding is that a layoff as long as Baylor’s generally costs a team about 2.3 points. That’s not a large enough boost for Iowa State.

KenPom gives Baylor a 99% chance to win. You can argue that the pause should lower that number, but again, I don’t think Baylor’s remaining guys forgot how to play. It would take a catastrophic shooting differential day for Iowa State to win. I don’t see that happening. I’ll take Baylor 82-64.