Betting Breakdown for Saturday’s Loaded Big 12 Slate
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
TCU @ Oklahoma
Last week, I wrote about what makes Trae Young and the Sooners’ offense so lethal. So the question is: Has TCU learned from its first experience trying to guard Young, who scored 39 points and 14 assists in a road win in Fort Worth? Probably not. TCU’s defense simply doesn’t tick any of the boxes necessary to keep Young contained, and the rematch is in Norman. TCU’s defense just allowed Texas to score 1.22 points per possession without Andrew Jones and Kerwin Roach (although the Horns played with a lot of emotion after the awful Jones news).
In the first meeting, Jamie Dixon basically threw everything at Young to contain him on ball screens. Hard hedges with bigs? Young quickly found the open roll man. Underscreening to limit penetration? Young nailed multiple 27 footers. Sagging off in transition to limit his options? Young simply waltzed to the rim. Simply put, TCU plays mediocre ball screen defense and poor transition defense. Those are two areas you must limit against any Lon Kruger offense, especially one with a generational point guard.
That is Jaylen Fisher, TCU’s best option defensively against Young, getting torched in most of those Young highlights.
Additionally, OU played that first meeting without Kris Doolittle, who has had a hard time getting back into Kruger’s rotation since returning. However, Doolittle just played his best game of the season with 21 effective minutes against Texas Tech, where his athleticism really helped defend Chris Beard’s outstanding motion offense. Per hooplens.com, in the 40 possessions that Doolittle played, Texas Tech scored just .82 points per possession, while OU scored 1.23. His presence will certainly help a defense that allowed the Frogs to score 1.16 points per possession in the first meeting.
The Pick: Oklahoma -6.5
Big 12 Quick Hitters
West Virginia travels to Lubbock to face an extremely well coached Texas Tech team. Esa Ahmad will make his season debut for WVU, but I can’t envision him immediately logging meaningful minutes. Additionally, his on/off splits per hooplens show the Mountaineers were essentially the same team with or without him on the floor. For Texas Tech, keep an eye on the status of both Justin Gray and Zach Smith, although it sounds like both probably suit up. Gray and Smith are both essential defenders in Chris Beard’s aggressive pack line defense. Schematically, Texas Tech scores an outstanding 1.3 points per possession in their press offense per Synergy. However, they haven’t seen a lot of press this year (especially of the caliber of a Huggins press), as they have only seen it in 80 possessions.
The Pick: Pass
Kansas State’s offense excelled in its first game post Kamau Stokes, as they scored 1.21 points per possession against Oklahoma State thanks to 38 points from Barry Brown. The defense, however, sank like a stone, as they allowed the Pokes to score 1.15 points per possession. Stokes on/off splits per hooplens show the Wildcats limit opponents to .93 points per possession when he’s on the floor, but that number skyrockets to 1.10 points per possession. Furthermore, KSU has allowed 1.23 points per possession against high major opponents this year without Stokes on the floor. Those are troubling numbers against Kansas. Offensively, Bruce Weber’s motion offense excels at creating looks for stretch bigs away from the rim, which KU struggled to contain last year. Wildcats big man Dean Wade, who posted offensive ratings of 183 and 126 against the Jayhawks last year, leads a KSU team ranked third in the country in post efficiency. The most efficient post offense? Kansas. However, KU allows just .52 points per post possession defensively, while KSU allows .90, per Synergy.
The Pick: Kansas State/Kansas over 150.5
Iowa State has struggled so much defensively that almost strictly man to man coach Steve Prohm has even tried to mix in some zone, which he quickly abandoned after his bigs couldn’t defend in it. Only three teams in the country (Samford, Pepperdine, North Dakota) allow a higher field goal percentage at the rim than the Clones, per hoop-math.com. Not exactly elite company and Baylor runs the country’s 20th most efficient post offense. Offensively, Prohm runs Nick Weiler-Babb, Lindell Wigginton, and Donovan Jackson off a plethora of ball screens in 1-4 low sets, which Baylor struggles to defend. Both offenses have a few advantages in this matchup.
The Pick: Baylor/Iowa State over 138.5
Other Quick Hitters
Duke’s ball screen defense is extremely poor, and that’s troubling against Wake Forest, one of the country’s most efficient pick and roll offenses at the point of attack. Wake scored 1.19 and 1.38 points per possession in two losses to the Blue Devils last year (albeit with John Collins). Unfortunately, the Deacs allowed Duke to score 1.21 and an absolutely absurd 1.46 points per possession.
The Pick: Wake Forest/Duke over 164
Trevon Bluiett continues to struggle offensively, and thus so is Xavier. However, Bluiett strung together three outstanding offensive performances against Creighton defensive ace Khyri Thomas last year. In those three meetings, Chris Mack mixed in the 1-3-1 more often to force the excellent quick strike Bluejay offense to work. However, Creighton scores in the 89th percentile against zones this year. There’s genuinely no good way to defend Greg McDermott’s offense. However, Mack would be wise to establish Sean O’Mara and Kerem Kanter on the block early and often. Per hoop-math, the Bluejays allow teams to shoot 65.9 percent at the rim (37th worst in the country). Xavier, which attempts shots at the rim at the 4th highest rate nationally, will take advantage.
The Pick: Xavier -3.5
Saturday Afternoon Picks:
Bona/URI under 144.5 (via Twitter)
Wake Forest +16.5
Wake Forest/Duke over 164
Kansas State/Kansas over 150.5
Baylor/Iowa State over 138.5
Oral Roberts +5.5
Miss State +2
*all lines via 5Dimes at time of publication
Check back later today for a look at tonight’s slate