Big 12 tournament finalist Baylor dukes it out with South Dakota State. Here’s who we’re liking with our college basketball picks. At 7:25 PM EST the Bears begin their journey as the three seed, battling it out with the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.
On the NCAA Basketball odds board, Baylor is favored by 7.5 points, but they’ve struggled when holding the ‘betting odds favorite’ tag this season. The total for the game ranges from 139.5 to 141.
Baylor really stepped it up in the Big 12 tournament, beating Kansas State in their first game action to set up a semi-final showdown with Kansas. The Bears were terrific, winning 81-72 to easily cash as 6.5-point underdogs.
Bears aiming for fast start
The finals didn’t go nearly as well, with Missouri proving to be too strong. The Bears would go on to lose 75-90 in the title matchup.
Still, Baylor has to feel good about where their game is at right now and should be confident they can get past South Dakota State to open things up.
The Jackrabbits couldn’t be any hotter right now though. They’ve won eight in a row (6-2 ATS) and stamped out their place in theNCAA Tournament by winning the Summit conference tournament. They beat Western Illinois by two in overtime to grab the gold.
For South Dakota State, Nate Wolters led the way with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, but did only connect on 5-of-22 from the floor. Griffan Callahan (10 points and six boards) was the only other Jackrabbit to hit double figures in scoring.
The Jackrabbits have been sound defensively (54.8 PPG allowed over their last five), but haven’t faced a team as explosive as the Bears.
Baylor, led by Perry Jones III, has averaged 77.4 PPG in their previous five contests, leading to four straight of their games going over the posted total.
For me, there’s no way the Jackrabbits will be able to hang with the Bears’ forwards. Jones III has double-doubles in four of his last five and Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller, though inconsistent, ahave been strong in the interior as well.
Taking the heavy favorite
Don’t forget about Baylor’s potentially devastating backcourt either. Pierre Jackson is playing well at the point and Brady Heslip is about as good of a shooter as you’re going to find in the whole bracket.
Thursday’s game will all be about who controls the tempo. South Dakota State will try and slow down the game as much as possible, while the Bears will be looking to get up and down the court quickly and make the Jackrabbits pay in transition.
South Dakota State may be on a nice little winning streak here lately, I see it all coming to a crashing halt in the opening round. The Jackrabbits haven’t played a team nearly as good as Baylor all season long and I think it’ll be a long game for them.
As a result, I’m rolling with the Bears to win by more than seven in the first round of the tournament.