College Basketball Betting Report on Big 12: Best Futures, Players to Watch & More
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State of the 2021 Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 is shaping up to be one of the deepest conferences in the country. There are currently five Big 12 teams representing the league in the AP Poll.
Most notable of the group is the No. 1 ranked Baylor Bears. The Bears have climbed to the top spot by thoroughly defeating every opponent put in front of them so far.
Interestingly enough, the Bears still have plenty of value on them in the conference futures market and are a great place to begin our Big 12 breakdown.
Best Conference Winner Values (Odds Via DraftKings)
The top-ranked Bears have been a well-oiled machine on both ends of the court this season. They are currently fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
What makes this team so difficult to slow down offensively is that their scoring can come from anywhere. Their top five leading scorers are all guards, who have each shown that they can carry the club when buckets are needed.
Their offensive success is also sustained by their relentless work on the offensive glass. The Bears are ninth in the country in offensive rebounds per game, which is all due to hustle and technique, as their leading rebounders are under 6-foot-10.
Lastly, their defense has been suffocating opposing offenses. They are fourth in the country in points per game allowed and are also fourth in defensive turnover percentage.
This is exemplified by their 57-36 win over the sixth-ranked Villanova Wildcats.
The Baylor Bears should be the betting favorite to win the conference and maintain value until they are.
These Cyclones may be the biggest surprise of the season so far. They have exploded out of the gates and rattled off 11 straight wins to start the season.
Their resume is rather impressive, as well, as the Cyclones hold victories over Xavier, Memphis, Creighton and Iowa.
They have done this through elite team defense, as Iowa State is fifth in adjusted defensive efficiency and eighth in effective field goal percentage allowed.
On the other end of the floor, head coach T. J. Otzelberger found his new leader through the transfer portal, and he has done anything but disappoint.
I’ll dive deeper into Izaiah Brockington later, but he has the potential to lead this team to a conference title.
My personal best bet to win this conference is on these Longhorns.
Now, it did not help their public perception when they were thoroughly outplayed in their second game of the season against the high-profile Gonzaga Bulldogs.
They then dropped a tight contest to Seton Hall and have been all but written off with the emergence of other programs.
This Texas team is capable of winning this conference simply because of the old adage “Defense wins Championships.” The Longhorns are fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency and are second in opposing points allowed per game, with an average of just 53.6 points per game.
Many have pointed to the Longhorns’ lack of offense as a reason to doubt them, but the numbers negate that as they are 25th adjusted offensive efficiency and 51st in effective field goal percentage.
The points on the scoreboard are correlated to their style of play. Texas has become the Big 12’s version of Virginia. It will grind out opponents by playing great defense and executing in the half court on offense.
Much like the Cavaliers, if the Longhorns play their game, they can beat anyone.
Players to Watch
If you’re a fan of Big 12 basketball, then you are definitely a fan of Agbaji.
The Jayhawks senior guard is currently the third-leading scorer in the nation. Agbaji is showing that he is a complete offensive player, as he has the ability to play above the rim while also being deadly from deep. He’s shooting an incredible 48% from behind the arc.
If you have not seen him, here’s a little highlight reel that celebrates his honor of being named Conference Player of the Week in November:
Ochai Agbaji is not messing around when it comes to his senior season 👊@youngoch x #KUbballpic.twitter.com/bcuHOF5kY4
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) November 16, 2021
Agbaji has to be the frontrunner for Big 12 Player of the Year, as he has scored no less than 17 points in any game this season. If he keeps up this pace, the Jayhawks could be playing into April.
The Penn State transfer has been the life-blood of this Iowa State surge. He’s averaging 16 points per game, but has shown he thrives in the big moment.
Brockington dropped 30 in Iowa State’s win against Xavier and 29 against Iowa. The senior guard does it all for the Cyclones, as he averages 32 minutes a game, shoots 48% from deep, grabs almost eight boards per game and even is a problem on the defensive end, averaging two steals per game.
Here’s just a taste of what he did to the Hawkeyes earlier this season:
Brockington is a human highlight reel pic.twitter.com/bu8d0ND1Ac
— OutCYde the Lines (@OutCYdeTheLine) December 10, 2021
Brockington is a very exciting player to watch and we could see a lot of him, as his performance has put the Cyclones back on the national map.
Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” Mountaineers are quietly 10-1 to start the season, and it is largely because of the play of Sherman. The senior guard has been absolutely electric, as he is averaging 21.4 points per game on the season and has put up 23 points or more in four of his last seven games.
This is Sherman’s first year as a starter and his game has only gotten exponentially better. Check out this breakdown of what makes Sherman such an elite weapon on the offensive end:
.@WVUhoops Taz Sherman had ZERO D-1 offers before heading to @collincollege in Dallas. Now, @Okaytazoo is one of the best scorers in the @Big12Conference & in the country. pic.twitter.com/avAQC32GMh
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) December 10, 2021
It has been quite a while since Huggins has had such a skillful offensive player to pair with his intense style of defensive play.
If Sherman can keep producing the Mountaineers could surprise a lot of people.
Conference Play Look Ahead
The beginning of the new year also signals the start of the Big 12 inter-conference schedule.
Just as your New Year’s resolutions are made to set the tone for the year, the games played on January 1st could set the tone for how the conference shakes out.
Let’s take a peek at some of the upcoming matchups.
West Virginia vs. Texas
If you like defense, this is the game for you. You’re getting “Press Virginia” against a top-five defense in Texas.
The Longhorns will have a decent edge in this matchup, as they are the overall better offensive team. They will also have the size and length to contain Sherman.
As long as the Longhorns are prepared for the press and don’t panic into turnovers over the course of the game, they should be victorious.
This will be a game I will look to be taking an under. We know how good these two programs are defensively, but what also helps is they are both extremely slow-paced, with the Longhorns being 356th in tempo and the Mountaineers at 299th.
If we get a total in the 120s I’ll definitely be on it.
Baylor vs. Iowa State
This game will be fun to watch. The top team in the nation will play its first true road game of the conference season in a very tough atmosphere. Not to mention, the other team on the floor has proven it can hold its own against anyone.
To me, this has all the makings of an upset. I imagine Baylor will still be at least a two-possession favorite, given what the market thinks of the Cyclones.
Matchup-wise, the Cyclones may be a bit undersized down low, and they could lose the battle on the boards, but they have Brockington as the X-factor. We have seen how he loves to rise to the occasion. And in front of the Cyclone faithful, it could be one of his best efforts of the entire season.
I’ll be looking for Iowa State at +4 or better in this matchup.
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