It’s no secret that the Big 12 this season is an absolute gauntlet. To encapsulate this, TCU is seventh in the conference standings, yet 23rd overall in Adjusted Efficiency Margin per Kenpom. Even when battling through injuries, the Horned Frogs run as one of the deeper units that can compete with the best of them. Their opponent Baylor has been a mainstay in the conference, proving to be one of the best once again. Can TCU build their case with a win over the Bears?
Baylor Vs. TCU Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Bears as a -2.5 favorite on the road. Initially being tabbed as a favorite comes as no surprise as the Horned Frogs are still dealing with injuries to Mike Miles Jr and big man Eddie Lampkin Jr. What does come as a surprise is that bettors have leaned towards the Horned Frogs, taking them down to +1.5 as of writing. Lampkin has already been ruled out of this contest with expectations leaning towards the same for Miles as well.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a blistering pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 149.5. Bettors have failed to make a stand in either direction, keeping the number the same as the opener. This is an immediate pass for me while TCU is dealing with injuries to their leading scorer and key piece in the interior. While they have maintained an elite level of defensive play, their offensive production has dipped which brings too much variance towards their ability to contribute towards the total.
Baylor Vs. TCU Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Pass, wait on TCU injury confirmation
With that said, this game is a pass for me as I cannot trust TCU to put together a complete game for over the course of 40 minutes. Even though their defense has managed to play at an elite rate by maintaining their 14th ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rating, their offense has severely dipped since losing their leading scorer in Mike Miles Jr. His 18.1 points per game have been sorely missed, losing a key playmaker that opened up their offense.
Since his injury, TCU has had to rely more on their depth to stay afloat. They have managed to temper those expectations of neutralizing the damage, stealing a win while going through a few bumps in the road. With Miles Jr out, this has put an added scoring emphasis on Emanuel Miller and Damion Baugh who average 13 points per game apiece. Miller has served as more of a perimeter threat, while Blaugh does his damage in the interior as a slashing guard.
Still, without Miles Jr this offense has struggled to find any consistency. Especially in late game situations, lacking a go to scorer to take over a game. This emphasis of team continuity with their depth has raised turnover concerns, coughing up 19 turnovers against Kansas State in their last game out. Turnovers have been a killer, throwing a wrench into any momentum that TCU has looked to build with their backups.
Baylor’s defense this season hasn’t played at the level that we would expect them to from a Scott Drew led team, ranking 73rd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. Their no middle defense has proven to be ineffective this season due to a lack of length, allowing opposing offenses to fill the gaps and generate high scoring opportunities. This is exactly what TCU will need for their secondary scorers, taking advantage of the openings to stay within scoring pace.
Baylor Vs. TCU Key Matchups
Can TCU keep up their elite defensive play and slow down Baylor’s guards?
TCU perimeter defense vs Baylor guard production
Baylor has run as one of the best offensive units in the nation, ranking first in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom as of writing. A brunt of that scoring production comes from their elite guard play with Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, and LJ Cryer averaging a combined 46.9 points per game.
TCU will need to lock down the perimeter should they want to avoid getting buried early, a feat that they are more than capable of as one of the best perimeter defensive units in the league.
It will also be interesting to see if Baylor will opt into the idea of attacking the interior at a higher rate than they are accustomed to with Lampkin being ruled out. They get a prime opportunity to do so as Lampkin’s interior presence has been sorely missed. Baylor’s offensive identity altering is another key reason why I am passing on this game.
This is a pass for me for now as I will wait for injury confirmation on TCU’s end.