NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Saturday’s college basketball schedule is loaded with action, but none of the games will be bigger than this matchup in Waco. Two 17-1 teams will meet when Missouri travels to take on the Baylor Bears. The number five team in the country will square off against the number three team. Both of these teams were expected to be solid, but neither was expected to be nearly as good as they have been so far this season. This will be a battle to stay near the top of the Big 12 Standings. These teams have two very different styles, and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Mike Anderson left the Missouri program after last year. Frank Haith is now the team’s head coach. Haith has kept much of the uptempo and pressure defense mentality that Anderson left behind. The Tigers play a little bit slower than they did last season, but they still emphasize getting easy buckets off turnovers. What has made this team so much better this year? The Tigers have been great in the half court defensive sets as well. Previously Missouri gave up too many easy looks in the half court, but this year opponents are struggling to find open shots against the Tigers. In addition, the offense has been extremely efficient. The Tigers rank second in the nation in field goal percentage. Missouri averages 83.1 points per game.
Marcus Denmon and Kim English give the Tigers two great outside shooters in the backcourt. Denmon leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game. English is hitting an amazing 52 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Ricardo Ratcliffe is shooting an astronomical 72 percent from the floor this year. Ratcliffe gets a ton of easy layups and dunks because of the great guard play on this team.
Baylor was unbeaten until earlier this week when they fell at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas. The Bears are led by what is probably the best frontcourt in the nation. Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, and Quincy Miller form a tremendous trio of forwards that are extremely tough to stop. NBA scouts love Jones’ game, and he has shown glimpses of greatness in big games this year. Acy is a senior leader for this team, and he averages 12 points and seven boards. Miller is a freshman sensation who has the ability to play inside or step out and knock down the three. The length and athleticism of this front line makes them scary good.
The question mark surrounding this team coming into the season was their guard play. Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip have stepped up in a big way in the backcourt for the Bears. Both of these guys are hitting 48% of their shots from beyond the arc. Jackson is proving to be a play maker who is capable of getting open looks for his teammates. Defensively, Baylor allows only 61 points per contest.
It’s a matchup of a great backcourt against a great frontcourt in this one. Missouri hasn’t played much on the road this year, and I think Baylor will be very motivated here.
Prediction: Baylor 77 Missouri 66
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