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We have another electric Tuesday slate that features 13 of the top 25 teams in the nation! Our two favorite games (for best bets purposes) include the No. 23 Texas Tech Red Raiders versus the No. 13 Baylor Bears and the Oklahoma State Cowboys versus the No. 5 Houston Cougars. Find our best college basketball picks today for these two games below!
Date: Tuesday, February 6
Time: 9:00 pm EST
It will be a good, old-fashioned shootout between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Baylor Bears, two of the nation’s top 15 offensive attacks (adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom)! Baylor ranks fourth in adjO, while the Red Raiders are 13th through the first two-thirds of the 2023-24 regular season. Baylor and Texas Tech are both 5-3 in Big 12 play, giving this game even more excitement; the winner will be tied for first place in the conference with Kansas and Houston.
The Bears have had another successful season behind a high-octane, Scott Drew-led offense; they average the 15th-most points per game on the 13th-highest eFG% (56.5%) and the highest 3P% (41.8%) in the country. Further, Baylor shoots a ridiculous 44.1% from three when it is on its home floor despite having the 19th-hardest schedule (strength of schedule rating)!
Baylor has had a substantial amount of roster turnover in its past few seasons between players going to the NBA, graduating, or transferring; however, Drew has done a good job replenishing talent with quality recruits or portal players. The Bears only brought back their fourth, fifth, and sixth-leading scorers. Langston Love, Jalen Bridges, and Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua, respectively. Unfortunately, JTT has not seen the floor much this season, as a previous injury has seemingly limited his athletic ability. Meanwhile, Adam Flagler and Keyonte George went to the NBA, while L.J. Cryer transferred to Houston, leaving Baylor’s backcourt quite thin.
However, Drew brought RayJ Dennis, a fantastic lead guard capable of scoring in bunches and making the correct passing reads, into the program from the transfer portal; he also signed freshmen Ja’Kobe Walter and Yves Missi. The former is likely to be a lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Walter is a high-volume scorer with many similarities to combo guard Keyonte George from last year’s team.
The Bears have a dynamic backcourt duo with Dennis and Walter, while Bridges, Love, and Missi fill out the rest of Baylor’s starting lineup. Bridges and Love have gotten substantially better from last season to this one, while Missi has exceeded expectations as a freshman, averaging roughly ten points and six rebounds per game.
Still, it has been a roller-coaster season for Baylor; it has won back-to-back games, including a narrow two-point home win against the No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones, but the Bears dropped three consecutive games before their past two wins. Much of their inconsistency can be attributed to suspect defensive effort. Luckily, the Bears face an opponent in Texas Tech with a similar issue.
The Red Raiders are a fringe-top-25 team, but like Baylor, they are often exploitable on the defensive end of the floor. They rank 86th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency and 127th in opponent eFG%. Furthering matters, Texas Tech is a horrendous defensive rebounding team, sitting at 286th in the nation (out of 362 teams) in defensive rebounding percentage.
Despite these struggles, Texas Tech still wins most of its games due to a high-powered offense led by Pop Isaacs, Joe Toussaint, Devan Cambridge, Warren Washington, and Chance McMillan, who all average double-digit points this season! Interestingly enough, the Red Raiders are the third-best three-point shooting team on the road in the nation, making them a tough opponent to play even when a team is on its home floor.
That is exactly the situation that Baylor finds itself in right now. The Bears need to continue their exceptional play at home (11-1) in this spot to keep within striking distance of a Big 12 regular season championship. Texas Tech could be right back in the picture with an unexpected road win that could also give it some breathing room. So, which team will prevail in this matchup between two offensive-centric squads?
We give Baylor a slight lean on its home floor in this one. While we don’t love laying 5.5 points on any team in a Big 12 matchup between two top-tier teams, there are a few reasons why it makes sense in this spot. For one, the Red Raiders are a horrendous defensive rebounding team, as alluded to above; their defensive rebounding percentage of 70.1% is just atrocious, especially considering they haven’t even played that hard of a schedule (68th in strength of schedule rating.) On the other hand, Baylor is a fantastic offensive rebounding team, ranking 19th in offensive rebounding percentage on its home floor. The few shots that the Bears don’t knock down, they will most likely get their own rebound and have another shot. Obviously, that is a terrible recipe for trying to beat a team that shoots better than 44% from behind the arc at home!
The other blatantly obvious reason to back the Bears is Texas Tech’s tragically poor three-point defense on the road. The Red Raiders allow opponents to shoot 39.4% from deep (349th out of 362 teams) when they are away, which is the worst area to be poor in when playing against Baylor.
Date: Tuesday, February 6
Time: 7:00 pm EST
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook. Head over to DraftKings Sportsbook to place your bets.
The Houston Cougars dropped from fourth to fifth in the nation after a tough road loss against the now-No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday. Kansas played one of the best games of any team this season (besides their 17 turnovers), shooting 69% from the field and 46% from behind the arc against the best defensive team in America. The Jayhawks also shut down Houston’s offense and outrebounded it by 17 boards!
Houston is such an incredibly talented basketball team that it didn’t even drop from first in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin or his adjusted defensive efficiency metric. The likelihood of a game like that happening again is slim to none, no matter the team or venue, especially against a team like Houston
The Cougars not only rank first in adjD, they also rank first in opponent eFG%, ninth in opponent 3P%, first in opponent points per game, second in opponent defensive rebounding percentage, and eighth in opponent turnovers per game. This team is a force to be reckoned with defensively.
Further, Houston does a fantastic job crashing the offensive glass, ranking second in offensive rebounding percentage behind only Texas A&M. The Cougars’ aptitude in pulling down their own misses mitigates their occasional struggles on the offensive end of the floor; they only rank 223rd in eFG% this season, despite having the 18th-best adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom!
Houston knows how to play to its strengths, which is exactly what head coach Kelvin Sampson has instilled in this team: defense and offensive rebounding. The Cougars have become an elite program behind Sampson, and even when they lose talent (i.e., Tramon Mark, Marcus Sasser, and Jarace Walker), he finds a way to combine replenishing it from the transfer portal and recruiting trail, as well as build it internally.
The trio of Jamal Shead, Emanuel Sharp, and L.J. Cryer is scoring most of the Cougars’ points this season. The former two are returners from last season’s team, while Cryer is a transfer guard from Baylor. Sampson doesn’t just recruit the highest-rated players or snag the best offensive talents in the transfer portal; he finds players who fit his system.
On the other hand, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are amid a “stinker” of a season, boasting a 2-7 record in Big 12 conference play. The Cowboys’ only two conference wins were against Kansas State and West Virginia at home; they have been blitzed in several road games this season. Kansas drubbed the Cowboys by 29 points, while Iowa State held them to just 42 points in a 24-point win. Additionally, Oklahoma State lost by 17 points to Texas Tech, a team with nowhere near Houston’s offensive or defensive talent.
This spread is at 20.5 points, which is usually seen more often in “buy games” than in a conference game; however, it clearly indicates the talent disparity between these two teams. As mentioned above, the Cowboys scored merely 42 points against the elite Iowa State defense earlier this season.
But as great as Iowa State’s defense is, the Cougars are even better at that end of the floor. And they are fresh off a sour loss on the road against Kansas. This will be an absolute slaughter, as Houston will have a lot of frustration to take out on the Cowboys. This Houston team holds opponents to merely 45.8 points per game on a shooting split of 32/27/60 on its home floor. Don’t be shocked when this is a 25-point game at halftime.
Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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