College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Stanford vs. Baylor: How to Bet This Game
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- Undefeated Baylor plays host to Stanford in a non-conference clash between power schools.
- The Cardinal's only loss this season has come at the hands of Santa Clara by 16 points.
- Tanner McGrath dives into this matchup and offers up his best bet.
Stanford vs. Baylor Odds
-118o / +100u
-118o / +100u
The defending national champions host a Pac-12 rival Saturday afternoon, as the Cardinal will attempt to build on their 3-1 start.
It won’t be easy. The Bears are not last year’s team, but they’re ranked in the top 15 and have been blowing through their non-conference schedule.
This will be the Bears’ fourth-straight home game as well, while Stanford goes on the road for the second time this year. The Cardinal’s first road game resulted in a four-point loss to Santa Clara as 3.5-point favorites.
But Stanford doesn’t have to win this game, it just has to cover. I’m not sure if Jerod Haase & Co. will be able to, though.
Stanford was one of college basketball’s biggest “what-ifs” last season. The Cardinal were a team that was loaded with talent and continuity but got crushed by COVID protocols and injuries.
However, Haase just has to move forward. He lost one of the best players in school history in Oscar da Silva, but pulled in a top-20 recruiting class while returning three starters and over 50% of minutes played last season.
The offense needs to improve for the Cardinal. It was absolutely brutal last season, finishing ninth in the conference in KenPom offensive efficiency and 11th in turnover rate.
Jaiden Delaire is the most important piece for Haase this season. Last year’s Pac-12 Most Improved Player is currently Stanford’s highest usage player and second-highest scorer (11.8 points per game).
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) March 9, 2021
Meanwhile, the frontcourt rotation looks solid so far. 6-foot-8 stretch-four freshman Harrison Ingram leads the pack as the team’s highest scorer and rebounder. He’s dropped 16+ points in three of his four games.
The backcourt is a big question and the team will have to take care of the ball against this Baylor no-middle defense (something the Cardinal didn’t do last season).
But Stanford’s biggest advantage in this game is likely its size. The team is massive, second in the nation in average height (79.2″), running with a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, a 6-foot-9 small forward and a 7-foot-1 center.
Through four games, Stanford is fifth in the nation in defensive rebounding rate. Expect that to continue with this forest of a roster.
Once again, Baylor looks like a great basketball team.
Scott Drew is simply amazing. Despite losing four starters and his top three scorers, Drew returns the other top seven players while adding the program’s highest-rated recruiting class (fourth in the nation via ESPN). He also added an impact transfer in First Team All-Pac-12 guard James Akinjo.
With the Bears losing the best backcourt in the nation, bringing in Akinjo is massive. He replaces so much of what the Bears backcourt did last season, as he’s a great scorer (18 points vs. Central Arkansas), a fantastic floor general (averaging seven assists per game) and a solid shooter (40% from 3 with Arizona last season).
🔥James Akinjo is out here, stealin' em (4) and servin' em (2)🔥
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) November 18, 2021
But, as with most Drew-led teams, this is a team effort. Five players are currently averaging over 10 points per game, with second-year shooting guard LJ Cryer leading the way at 17 points per game.
Minutes were so hard to find in the Baylor backcourt last season and Cryer averaged just 3.4 points and 10 minutes per game as a result. However, the former top-50 national recruit is looking like a great investment for Drew.
The no-middle defense seems to be as effective as it was in recent seasons, as the Bears rank top-seven nationally in defensive rebounding rate and defensive turnover rate.
I’ve been waiting for Matthew Mayer to take over the spotlight for three seasons now. After scoring in double-figures 11 times last season, he’s accomplished that feat in all of his first three games, leading the team in shooting percentage (30.6%).
Mayer is so deadly because he can handle the ball, slash and operate effectively as a stretch-four (39.5% from 3 last season). He’s a matchup nightmare and I’m overly excited to see what he does with all the extra minutes.
After eight straight seasons finishing outside the top 215 in tempo, this team is currently running at the 63rd-fastest pace. I’m unsure if that will continue into Big 12 play, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Stanford vs. Baylor Betting Pick
I love Baylor basketball. I’ve watched this team as closely as possible since the Butler/Mitchell/Teague era began and I’ve realized one thing about Baylor: it’s a cash cow in the first half.
Baylor went 27-17-1 ATS in the first half over the past two seasons for a 16.2% ROI. Through three games this season, Baylor is 2-1 in that category.
Stanford has talent, but the team has a long way to go. My biggest worry is the ball handling, as the Cardinal were brutal at taking care of the ball last season and are already averaging 13 turnovers per game this year.
Drew’s no-middle defense devours teams that don’t take care of the ball. While the Bears will lack size on the defensive end, they’ll make up for it in aggression and energy.
Look for Baylor to take advantage of that in the first half on Saturday afternoon, turning turnovers into easy baskets and jumping out to an early lead.