In their last game before conference play, the #1 ranked Baylor Men’s Basketball team (11-0) hosts the Northwestern State Demons (3-10). As I alluded to last week, this is the biggest mismatch remaining in the season for the Bears.
If this game is ever in doubt, these will be the three reasons why.
Three Point Offense
Northwestern State is demonstrably bad on defense. They allow teams to score on 57% of their two point shots (351st in the country) and 36% of their three point shots (305th in the country). Baylor is excellent on two point shots, making 57% (29th in the country), and above average on three point shots, making 35% (115th in the country).
Baylor should be able to score at will inside the arc, but if they choose to test their range all night, they might have a lot of empty possessions.
There should be plenty of defensive rebounds available for the Bears - the Demons make 48% of their two point shot attempts (273rd in the country) and 30% of their three point shot attempts (300th in the country).
That said, offensive rebounding is one of the things that Northwestern has demonstrated an ability to do better than 250th in the country...they rebound 26% of their missed shots (227th in the country). Baylor is an elite offensive rebounding team, but they are below average at defensive rebounding. The Bears allow opponents to rebound 26% of their missed shots (202nd in the country).
If Northwestern State is able to score more than 65 points in this game, it’s because they out-rebounded Baylor and capitalized on their extra chances.
Free Throw Differential
If the free throw line is really the charity stripe, then you could say that Northwestern State has demonetized it. They allow a free throw rate of only 24%, which is an incredible 10 percentage points less than their opponents average in other games (13th in the country). Baylor has struggled getting to the free throw line this season with a free throw rate of only 25% (310th in the country).
On the other side of the ball, Northwestern State gets to the free throw line less frequently than Baylor with a free throw rate of 21% (338th in the country), and they shoot an abysmal 58% (355th in the country). Baylor is average in avoiding fouls — they allow a free throw rate of 26%, which is only 2 percentage points less than their opponents earn in other games (162nd in the country).
If the refs get whistle-happy, the Demons could get to the line more frequently than the Bears. They’ll still need to shoot abnormally well for it to make a difference, though.
KenPom prediction: Baylor 91, Alcorn State 54