After a tumultuous start to Big 12 play, Baylor Head Coach Nicki Collen and the Baylor Women’s Basketball team (#5, 23-5) play a de facto championship game against the Iowa State Cyclones (#9, 24-4) tonight.
The winner of tonight’s game will clinch at least a share of the regular season title, with only one game left to play for both teams.
Here are three stats that will determine the Big 12 Champion.
Three Point Defense
When Baylor and Iowa State last played, I wrote that Iowa State’s top-10 offense was driven by elite three point shooting. One month later, this statement is even more true.
Iowa State is 8th in the country with 78 points per game. Over 44% of their field goal attempts come from behind the three point line (19th in the country), and they make an absurd 39% of them (2nd in the country).
Defending along the perimeter is not this Baylor defense’s strength. The Bears allow their opponents to shoot a 0.2 percentage point higher three point percentage than their opponents average in other games (177th in the country).
In their first meeting, Baylor won 87 to 61, and they held the Cyclones to a 26% three point percentage on 27 attempts. I expect Iowa State to shoot better at home this evening; the outcome will depend on how much better.
Baylor dominated the offensive glass in their previous matchup with Iowa State. They registered a 39% offensive rebounding rate and held Iowa State to 24%. Can the Bears do the same in Ames?
Baylor is ordinarily a good, but not great, offensive rebounding team. They collect 33% of their available offensive rebound opportunities (133th in the country).
Iowa State is an elite defensive rebounding team, holding their opponents to an 8 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate than their opponents average in other games (4th in the country).
On the other side of the ball, Iowa State is a poor offensive rebounding team, with an offensive rebounding rate of only 30% (203rd in the country), and Baylor is a decent defensive rebounding team, holding their opponents to an offensive rebounding rate 2.4 percentage points lower than their opponents average in other games (105th in the country).
If Baylor can keep their offensive rebounding rate above 36%, I like their chances.
Both teams are very good at limiting turnovers on offense, but only one team can generate turnovers on defense, too.
Baylor has an offensive turnover rate of 18.3%, good for 24th in the country. Iowa State has a slightly better turnover rate of 18.0%, 19th in the country.
On defense, Baylor is ranked 177th in the country in turnovers forced, with their opponents maintaining their season average when they play the Bears. Iowa State is ranked 332nd in the country in turnovers forced, with their opponents turning the ball over 4.4 percentage points less often.
In their first game together, Baylor had 11 turnovers for a turnover rate of 15.6%. Not bad, but you might expect them to do a little better against Iowa State. The Cyclones had 17 turnovers for a turnover rate of 23.9%. For comparison, if 24% were maintained an entire season, it would rank 236th in the country.
I don’t anticipate Iowa State will be so lax with the ball this evening, but if they are, say hello to the Big 12 Champion Baylor Bears.
Her Hoop Stats Prediction: Iowa State 75, Baylor 68