This Saturday, #1 ranked Baylor (14-0) travels to Fort Worth to take on the TCU Horned Frogs (10-1). TCU has only played three games against KenPom top-100 teams — Texas A&M (64), Santa Clara (82), and Utah (98) — and they lost one of them by 19 points.
Baylor should have enough talent and experience to win this game handily, but anything can happen in college hoops. Here are three stats that Baylor needs to do well in to avoid the upset.
Free Throw Rate
TCU is not particularly good at shooting the ball from...well...anywhere. They make 49% of their two point shot attempts (249th in the country), 30% of their three point shot attempts (299th in the country), and 68% of their free throw attempts (233rd in the country). Free throws are, relatively, their most efficient offense.
Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, they aren’t particularly good at getting to the free throw line. For every 10 shot attempts from the field, TCU attempts 3.1 free throws (149th in the country). Baylor is only average at avoiding fouls — they hold their opponents to a 2 percentage point lower free throw rate than their opponents average in other games (162nd in the country).
If Baylor can avoid sending them to the line, TCU should struggle to score points all game.
TCU makes up for their shooting deficiencies with excellent offensive and defensive rebounding. They collect 41% of offensive boards (1st in the country), and they hold their opponents to an 8 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate than their opponents average in other games (13th in the country).
Baylor is also elite at offensive rebounding, but they’ve struggled on the defensive glass. The Bears have an offensive rebounding rate of 38% (8th in the country), but they hold their opponents to only a 3 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate (152nd in the country).
I expect TCU to have a frustrating amount of second-chance opportunities. If they don’t, that’s a great indicator that Baylor will win this game.
For the third conference game in a row, Baylor should win the turnover battle. The Bears force their opponents to turn over the ball 7 percentage points more than they do in other games (13th in the country), and the Horned Frogs turn the ball over on a mediocre 17% of possessions (151st in the country).
“Should” is the operative word. Against Iowa State, Baylor was +2 in turnovers, and against Oklahoma, they were +3. For the season, Baylor now has a turnover rate of 17% (143rd in the country).
Perhaps TCU will give Baylor a break, though. Iowa State is 12th in the country in opponent turnover rate, and Oklahoma is 57th. TCU is only 109th; they force opponents to turn the ball over only 2 percentage points more frequently than they do in other games. Hopefully Baylor snaps out of their turnover streak and avoids giving TCU easy fast break points.
KenPom prediction: Baylor 75, TCU 66