College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Baylor vs. Oklahoma (Saturday, January 22)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Bijan Cortes (left) and Porter Moser (right).
- The Baylor Bears and Oklahoma Sooners go to battle in Big 12 college basketball action on Saturday afternoon.
- The Bears have suffered a couple of tough losses this month, and Shane McNichol thinks another one is on the way.
- Check out McNichol's bets bet for Saturday's Big 12 battle below.
Baylor vs. Oklahoma Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Oklahoma finds itself in a tough spot on Saturday. The Sooners have aspirations of reaching the NCAA Tournament in head coach Porter Moser’s first year in Norman.
So far, the Sooners have built a worthy resume. Wins over Florida and Kansas State top the Sooner resume, and the analytics community loves Oklahoma so far. The Sooners are a top-35 team by whichever analytical model you prefer, be it BartTorvik, Sagarin, KenPom, EvanMiya, or ShotQuality.
That positive energy has, however, waned of late.
Oklahoma has lost three straight and four of its last five. The Sooners are just 2-4 in Big 12 play, with every conference game remaining coming against a top-65 opponent and a trip to highly-ranked Auburn as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
How can Oklahoma stop the bleeding? A home win on Saturday would be great. That is easier said than done, with fifth-ranked, reigning national champion Baylor trotting into Norman.
The Bears are similarly hungry for a win, having dropped two conference games at home already this month.
Both sides need a win. Which side should you favor in this critical Big 12 clash? Let’s dive in.
Few would have guessed that Baylor would see such a small drop-off year over year after cutting down the nets last April.
The quartet of Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Mark Vital left Waco after winning the title, leaving a massive hole in terms of talent and production. Through a variety of channels, Scott Drew replicated a very high percentage of last year’s magic.
Freshmen Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan have injected a spark into the Baylor program, bringing a level of athleticism that the returning roster sorely lacked. Brown has been remarkably efficient for a first-year player, ranking in the top 20 nationally in 2-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage.
In the transfer portal, Drew nabbed James Akinjo. The former Georgetown and Arizona guard provided a scoring and creation element that Butler and Mitchell had carried for the Bears last season.
While much of the Baylor roster can shoot and score in the right circumstance, Akinjo is the off-the-dribble bucket-getter than any good team needs in crunch time.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Baylor’s returning players have taken the necessary steps forward to keep this team in national title contention.
Adam Flagler filled a role perfectly last season as a secondary shooter but has been much better as a driver and creator this year.
Matthew Mayer was a walking heat check last season, acting as Drew’s curveball on the offensive end in many games. This year, he’s still hoisting shots from all over the court, but his ability as a ball-handler at his size makes him a mismatch for almost every team.
When Moser took the big step from Loyola Chicago to Oklahoma, some questioned if his brand of basketball would fly in a power conference. So far, the Moser game plan has been as advertised.
On offense, Moser’s teams are built to work patiently to find a quality shot, preferably at the rim. His motion offense is driven by cuts that are dictated by the defense.
Each of Moser’s last five teams at Loyola ranked in the top 33 in 2-point shooting percentage. So far this year, the Sooners have checked this box authoritatively. Only Gonzaga is shooting a higher percentage inside the arc than Oklahoma (The only two teams in the last 20 years to shoot higher than 63% on 2s? This year’s Zags and last year’s Zags.).
Defensively, Moser teaches his teams to play active man-to-man defense that forces difficult looks at the rim without fouling or allowing putbacks.
When this Oklahoma team has committed to those ideals, the Sooners have been very good. When they have slacked in those areas, the Sooners have lost.
In wins this season, Oklahoma is allowing 9.2 offensive rebounds, compared to just 6.3 in losses.
In recent losses, fouls have doomed the Sooner D. Texas earned 24 free throws against Oklahoma, and Baylor took 20 foul shots the last time these teams met.
Baylor vs. Oklahoma Betting Pick
I worry about Oklahoma’s athleticism against this Baylor team.
When these clubs met in Waco, the Sooners hung around thanks to 20 Baylor turnovers. Even with those extra possessions, Oklahoma couldn’t compete at the rim with Baylor’s athletes.
The Sooners have been bad at protecting the rim all season and blocked just one Baylor shot in that game, allowing the Bears to dominate inside. Baylor took 20 free throws in that game and outrebounded Oklahoma, 34-16.
Oklahoma can win this game if the Sooners can make up for their athletic deficiencies with shooting and high IQ plays. That didn’t happen a few weeks ago in Waco, where Oklahoma racked up 17 turnovers and shot 5-of-20 from outside the arc.
On their home floor, I expect the Sooners to be better in those areas. With their backs against the wall, they’ll need to do so.
In this spot, with a 2-5 start in the Big 12 on the line, Oklahoma is poised for an upset. The Sooners have shot 19% from long range in their last three games. I’ll take the chance that luck swings that number in a big way Saturday and Oklahoma comes away as winners.