TCU Vs. Baylor Odds, Picks, Predictions NCAAB (1/4/23)

We have a battle of two Big 12 elites when the TCU Horned Frogs take on the Baylor Bears. It’s been a rocky start for the normally dominant Bears, starting 10-3 with their defensive production falling off a cliff. An oddity as Baylor is normally known for their patented no middle defense that has equated to some of the best defensive metrics throughout the past few years. Can TCU continue their hot start with a win at Baylor?

TCU Vs. Baylor Odds

Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Horned Frogs as a +5.5 underdog. Bettors have been quick to support them, taking them down to as low as +4.5. This would be a massive win for them as they try to prove to the nation that they are a real threat to win the Big 12 title. Sort of like their football team, a sleeper pick that ended up going all the way to the title. Can their basketball team follow their same fate?

As for the total, points are expected to be scored in bunches as oddsmakers opened the total at 142.5. This has slowly ticked down to 142 in some shops with potential indication that it will continue to trend in that direction. This brings some intrigue as TCU has been a lackluster offense, relying on their defensive production to secure their early season hot streak while the Baylor Bears defense tries to round back into form.

TCU Vs. Baylor Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Under 142.5

With TCU’s offense proving to be little threat to the reeling Bears defense, I will back the under at the current number of 142.5. Baylor may still be without one of their leading scorers in LJ Cryer who has missed the last few games with a concussion. He has returned to practice, but his status for this game is deemed as questionable as of writing.

In his absence, the TCU scoring production has been lackluster as they failed to string together consistency on that end of the court. This resulted in cluttered movement and a heavy abundance of low-quality jump shots. A head scratching level of play as Baylor used to be a unit that thrived in getting to the rim for high quality looks at a blistering pace.

Cryer’s potential return couldn’t be more vital as he atones for over a quarter of Baylor’s total shots and plays a critical role to their rotation. Even if he is good to go, I still have pause in Baylor’s potential scoring production as it is never easy to round back into form after a multigame absence. Especially from a concussion.

With their offense expected to still struggle, it will be up to the Bears defense to do their part in securing our under ticket. As previously mentioned, this was once a unit that was feared across the league with their no middle zone defense. This has allowed them to stretch out the perimeter with rotational shifts while someone constantly mans the middle to negate cuts and looks at the rim.

That has yet to play out to their championship standards as Baylor’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency has dropped to 44th per Kenpom. Lucky for them, TCU is not much of an offensive threat while they rank around average in the league in AdjO.

TCU Vs. Baylor Key Matchups

Can TCU’s defense limit the Baylor scoring production?

TCU defense vs Baylor guards scoring production

With or without LJ Cryer, the TCU defense will need to continue their high level of play should they want a shot at getting the upset. This has been their main catalyst of success, ranking 18th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom.

They are one of the most experienced rosters in the nation with their continuity clearly showing with their crisp level of play on that end. Their communication and switches will be key as they will need to focus on Baylor’s two headed dragon at the guard position in Adam Flagler and Keyonte George.

Should TCU be able to limit their drives to the interior where they do damage with their facilitation, this will force Baylor back into their old habits with low quality jump shots. This will lead into stalled out drives which bodes well for our under ticket.

Verdict

With TCU not providing much of a scoring threat to Baylor’s reeling defense, I will take the under at no lower than 140 in what will be a thrilling conference matchup with regular season title implications.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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