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Houston vs. Baylor Expert Pick – February 24, 2024

Houston vs. Baylor Expert Pick – February 24, 2024

HOUSTON VS. BAYLOR EXPERT PICK – The Saturday slate will get off to a hot start with a ranked Big 12 matchup. The second-ranked Houston Cougars are on the road against the eleventh-ranked Baylor Bears.

Houston will be playing their first game at Foster Pavilion, which has proved advantageous for Baylor this season. Both teams have crushed opponents at home this season; home-court advantage could be pivotal for this Big 12 matchup.

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Houston vs. Baylor Head-To-Head

These teams have not met this season but have some crossovers between them. L.J. Cryer is the Cougars’ leading scorer this season with 15 points per game, but last season averaged that amount for the Bears.

He spent his first three seasons with the Bears before hitting the transfer portal. He is from Katy, Texas, which is just outside of Houston. Jamal Shead is the leader of this team, with 13.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.

It is his fourth season with the program and third as a starter. He is a prototypical Kelvin Sampson player who is hard-nosed and sound fundamentally.

Baylor is equally experienced as Houston and has several players that contribute. Six players average more than 10 points, but freshman Ja’Kobe Walter is their leading scorer with 14.4 points per game.

RayJ Dennis dominates the ball as their point guard, averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 assists per game. Scott Drew should have his team ready to play their toughest matchup of the season.

Houston vs. Baylor In-Season Trends

Houston and Baylor are only separated by a three-hour drive, and the teams are close, too. Baylor is the fourth-ranked team in adjusted offensive efficiency, and Houston is 16, according to KenPom.

The Bears score 82.6 points, and the Cougars score 73.9 points per game. Houston plays with one of the slowest paces in the nation, averaging 18.8 seconds per possession. Baylor is also a slow-paced team, averaging 18.1 seconds. Speeding the game up could benefit them against a stellar Houston defense.

Houston is the best defense in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They alter shots and are constantly in the passing lanes. They average 10.1 steals and 4.9 blocks per game.

Baylor will have to mind their P’s and Q’s in this one, but could find success if they run and do not let Houston set up their defense. The three could also be the equalizer. Baylor shoots 39.6% from behind the arc and an average of 8.8 made per game. The other area where they could find success is on the offensive glass.

The Bears have an average height two inches taller than Houston but must limit the second-chance opportunities on the defensive end. Both teams average more than 10 offensive rebounds per game, with Houst ranking third in the nation with 13.4.

Baylor is 13-1 this season in their new arena and has a record of 8-4-1 ATS there. Houston has struggled on the road despite being dominant at home. They are 4-3 on the road but have only covered one of those ATS.

They were also a favorite in those games, so they are just 1-6 ATS on the road. Foster Pavilion is designed to create a tremendous advantage for the Bears, and it should come into play tomorrow, especially against the Cougars and former Bear L.J. Cryer.

The Pick

Baylor’s offense will be the difference in this matchup. The Cougars have been stingy on defense, but the Bears have the firepower to overcome them. They spread the wealth on offense, too, so it will not all be on one player’s shoulders. Scott Drew will find the hot hand and continue to roll offensively.

Trent’s Pick

Baylor +2.5

 

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