At 1pm CT (or 12pm CT if you forgot to set your clock forward), the Regular-Season Big 12 Champion Baylor Women’s Basketball team (#4, 27-5) takes on the Texas Longhorns (#7, 25-6) in the final round of the Big 12 Tournament.
Baylor beat Texas in back-to-back games earlier this season, winning 75-63 and 63-55. Here are three stats that will determine whether Baylor can sweep Texas and add the Big 12 Tournament Championship to their already impressive resume.
Two Point Defense
In their first game, Texas went 5 for 8 from behind the arc but shot only 33% from two. They had no chance against a Baylor team that shot 49% overall and 58% from inside the arc.
Two days later, Texas held Baylor to 44% from two and 29% from three, but they could only muster 38% on their own two point shots.
Season-long, Texas’ offense has relied on shooting well from inside the arc. They make 45% of their two point shots, good for 139th in the country. When a defense can shut the paint off, Texas is not prepared to take a high volume of shots from deep. Only 22% of their field goal attempts come from outside the arc (339th in the country).
This offensive strategy matches up poorly against a Baylor defense that holds their opponents to a 6.5 percentage point lower two point shooting percentage (14th in the country) and 0.6 percentage point lower three point shooting percentage (136th in the country).
Even if Texas’ defense plays better than they did in the second meeting between the two teams, Texas’ offense still has to shoot better. I’m not betting on both happening.
Free Throw Differential
Almost half of Baylor’s margin of victory in each game can be attributed to free throws. Across their prior two meetings, both Baylor and Texas attempted 43 free throws, but Baylor made 11 more free throws overall.
Neither team’s frequency or success at the free throw line should be a surprise. For the season, Baylor ranks 65th in the country in free throw rate and 62nd in free throw percentage (75%). Texas is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to fouling, and they send their opponents to the free throw line 8.8 percentage points more often than their opponents average in other games (336th in the country).
Texas also tends to foul better free throw shooters, as their opponents register a 3.1 percentage point higher free throw percentage when their opponents play Texas (308th in the country).
Texas gets to the free throw line more often than Baylor, ranking 47th in the country in free throw rate, but their free throw shooting percentage is worse, at 70% (178th in the country).
Baylor fouls less often than Texas — Baylor’s opponents go to the line as frequently as they do in other games — but when they do foul, it’s also against better shooters. Baylor’s opponents shoot 3.0 percentage points better from the free throw line than they do in other games (302nd in the country).
One key area where Texas should have an advantage is on the offensive glass. The Longhorns typically collect 38% of their offensive rebound opportunities (14th in the country), which compares favorably to Baylor’s 32% (130th in the country).
Baylor is slightly better on the defensive glass, holding their opponents to a 2.7 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate than their opponents average in other games (90th in the country). Texas only holds their opponents to a 2.0 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate (114th in the country).
In the first meeting, Texas collected 41% of their offensive rebound opportunities and held Baylor to 28%. That was one of the only things keeping them in a game where they shot the ball poorly, fouled 26 times, and turned the ball over 20 times.
Baylor flipped the script in the rematch. The Bears collected a respectable 36% of their offensive rebound opportunities and kept Texas to 28%.
A lot of things need to go Texas’ way for them to win this game. Winning the rebounding battle is almost an absolute must.
Her Hoop Stats Prediction: Baylor 66, Texas 66