NCAA Championship Odds & Preview: Sizing up the Baylor Bears
The Baylor Bears (27-2 SU, 18-10-1 ATS) might have been undefeated right now. But unfortunately, they had to endure a COVID-19 hiatus in February that made them a little stale.
However, they’ll have a chance to ruin another team’s undefeated season and win a national championship at the same time. That chance will come on Monday night, as they take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Game time is 9:20 PM ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It will be televised live on CBS, and with “Live Betting,” customers at BetOnline can keep up with the action by making real-time wagers.
Here are the numbers…..
This is the NCAA Championship line that has been posted on this game:
|Baylor||+4½ (-110)||159 (-110)||+170|
|Gonzaga||-4½ (-110)||159 (-110)||-200|
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How does Baylor score?
The Bears average 74.7 points a game. And they will step up the tempo a great deal on occasion, although not quite like Gonzaga.
Baylor is ranked second in the nation in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, according to the folks who compile advanced statistics at KenPom.com. A lot of that comes by way of their three-point proficiency. Baylor has made 41.2% of its three-point attempts this season, which is best in the nation.
Another thing that has been absolutely outstanding for this team is its ability to earn itself a second chance after a miss. Baylor is sixth in the nation in Offensive Rebounding Percentage, pulling down 36.9% of those available. This creates second chances to score on the same possession.
How does Baylor NOT score?
Well, apparently they don’t do a whole lot of their work at the free throw line. The Bears have produced only 14.1% of their points from the charity stripe. That is 328th in the nation. So let’s assume they don’t attack the basket well enough to draw fouls.
And they haven’t been all that good in shooting free throws either, as they are just 70.1% accurate. That lands them outside of the nation’s top 200.
Defensively, what’s their plan?
At the crux of Baylor’s efforts on the defensive end is its ability to put pressure on the opponent. And that doesn’t necessarily they are in a full-court press the whole way. They are great in the halfcourt forcing teams into miscues.
They are third in the nation, forcing a turnover on 24.6% of their opponents’ possessions. And this is not just a hollow statistic. They have, in this tournament alone, caused teams who normally take care of the ball very well to collapse.
Wisconsin, which is #1 in the nation in Offensive Turnover Percentage, committed 13 turnovers, their second most on the season. Villanova, #3 in that category, tied a season high with 16 TO’s. Hartford committed 24 turnovers, and Arkansas 15. We could go on and on, but the point is that these guys are very disruptive.
Who are the players to watch?
As we speak about defense, the guy to keep an eye on is Davion Mitchell. He is no less than the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. He had eleven assists without a turnover in the 78-59 semi-final romp over Houston,and averages 14 points per game.
Jared Butler is one of the best players in the nation. He averages 16.5 points and 4.8 assists, and may have straightened out his shooting against Houston. He hit six of nine shots after shooting just 34.6% previously in the tournament.
MaCio Teague is another part of Baylor’s three-guard setup, averaging 15.8 points a game. He had six assists without a turnover against Houston and shoots 39% from three-point range.
How they intend to win
Baylor’s objective will include making it very difficult for Gonzaga to penetrate the inside. On the other end, they have the capability to stretch out the Gonzaga defense with three-point shooting. And then, even when they miss, they pose a huge challenge with their offensive rebounding. These are the three things they intend to put into action as their formula for a victory and a championship.
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