Baylor Men’s Basketball (#5, 15-2) needs to regroup after two consecutive home losses, and they have an opportunity to do so on the road against the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers (13-3). It won’t be easy — no Big 12 road game is — but there are three stats that Baylor can do well in and propel themselves to victory.
Baylor’s offensive woes were apparent in their losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, but to the Bear’s credit, those two teams are elite on defense. They are currently ranked 3rd and 8th nationally in defensive efficiency by Ken Pom, respectively.
Fortunately, West Virginia is in the bottom half of the conference in defensive efficiency with a national rank of 21st. Yes, half of the teams in the conference are ranked inside the top 15 nationally in defensive efficiency.
West Virginia’s defense has one obvious weaknesses; they are atrocious at rebounding. The Mountaineers allow their opponents to register an offensive rebounding rate 3 percentage points higher than their opponents average in other games (329th in the country).
Baylor’s strength on offense is rebounding; the Bears collect 36% of available offensive boards (11th in the country). Baylor needs to take advantage of this mismatch and dominate the offensive glass.
This game is going to have a frustrating amount of turnovers for both teams. On offense, Baylor averages a turnover rate of 17.3% (143rd in the country), and West Virginia averages a turnover rate of 16.7% (102nd in the country).
On defense, Baylor forces their opponents into a turnover rate 5.5 percentage points higher than their opponents average in other games (17th in the country), and West Virginia forces their opponents into a turnover rate 6.7 percentage points higher than their opponents average in other games (8th in the country).
The winner of the turnover battle won’t necessarily win the game, but it will be difficult for either team to overcome a large deficit in this statistic.
Two Point Offense
Baylor needs to exorcise their perimeter shooting demons, but I don’t think this is when it will happen. The Bears should pound the ball inside where they shoot 55% (50th in the country), and WVU holds opponents to only 2 percentage point worse shooting (169th in the country). This is a better matchup than outside the arc where Baylor shoots 36% (71st in the country), and West Virginia holds opponents to 3 percentage point worse shooting (76th in the country).
If Baylor can’t generate half-court offense, getting second-chance opportunities via offensive rebounds and fast break points off of turnovers will help.
Ken Pom Prediction: Baylor 73, West Virginia 66