Baylor vs Oklahoma Odds & Prediction: Big 12 Betting Value on Bears
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Baylor’s Adam Flagler.
Baylor vs Oklahoma Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
The current Big 12 is one of the deepest conferences from top to bottom that college basketball has ever seen.
We’re in mid-January, and all 10 teams in the Big 12 are still over .500 for the season, each ranking in the top 65 of KenPom’s metrics.
For most conferences, a matchup of two teams in the top 40 nationally is a premier event, with major implications for the conference championship race.
In the Big 12, that’s a typical Saturday, with the Baylor Bears and Oklahoma Sooners more focused on keeping pace in the middle of the conference than catching the frontrunners atop the standings.
Every game in Big 12 play can be a statement-making, resume-building win, and this clash between the Bears and Sooners is no exception.
In the heat of the Big 12, Baylor stands out as unique.
The Bears have the 104th-ranked defense in the nation, among the top third of Division I. That’s a pedestrian mark for a power conference team.
Compared to their conference foes, however, that defense is a disaster. No other Big 12 team ranks worse than 56th in defense, with three teams in the conference boasting a top-15 defensive efficiency ranking.
Scott Drew’s three-guard lineup has consistently failed to build a defensive identity, giving up too many offensive rebounds and quality looks at the rim.
The Bears attempt to make up for their defensive misgivings with one of the most lethal offenses in the sport. Baylor ranks second nationally in offensive efficiency, playing a modern, aggressive style.
Drew’s Bears want to force the issue with open 3s or getting to the foul line. Baylor wants to penetrate off the dribble but not to finish in the paint. Only 15 teams are scoring a lower percentage of their points inside the arc, per KenPom, and no team in college basketball shoots less of their field goals at the rim, according to data from Hoop-Math.
Baylor’s barrage of creators want to attack off the bounce to draw in help defenders, either setting up a kick-out 3 or putting the defense out of position enough to force a foul.
Relying on the outside shot can feel like a high-variance gamble, but Baylor is shooting so many 3s that the sample size is usually big enough to lead to a successful shooting night. The Bears have taken at least 20 threes in every game and made less than 32% just three times.
It’s the 3-pointers allowed on the other end that have killed Baylor, with four of its five losses coming in the four games that Baylor’s opponent has hit 43% or better from deep.
Porter Moser’s defensive philosophy will test Baylor’s love of the long ball. The Sooners are in the top 20 of 3-point rate allowed this season. Thanks to a mix of shooting luck, small sample size and quality close-outs, the Sooners have faced just 28.8% shooting from beyond that arc.
Oklahoma opponents manage to score just 23.2% of their points from outside the 3-point line, 354th in college hoops. That drags down the ceiling of many offenses Oklahoma faces, leaving the door open for the Sooners to compete on any given night.
The Sooners, however, have struggled to find an offensive identity and can feel flat on that end of the floor. Nevada transfer Grant Sherfield is the catalyst offensively, yet his scoring comes more off isolation than in the flow of the offense.
Sherfield’s buckets this season have come via a teammate’s assist just 32% of the time this year. Inside the arc, he’s made 60 shots, with just 11 of those shots involving an assist (18%). Compare those numbers to Adam Flagler from Baylor, scoring a similar amount per game. On his field goal attempts, 51% came with an assist, including 40% inside the arc.
Don’t simply read this as a knock on Sherfield — a lot of that has to do with the supporting casts around those players. Without many other options offensively, Sherfield has to create for himself.
Overall, makes the Sooners more one-dimensional and easier for defensive game-planners on the opposing coaching staff.
Baylor vs Oklahoma Betting Pick
Oklahoma will do its best to run Baylor’s shooters off the 3-point line, but given the persistence of Drew’s offense and the talent in the Bears’ backcourt, that feels like a fool’s errand.
Beyond that piece of the matchup, Baylor is simply a class above the Sooners.
The Bears have lost five games all season, none to a team outside KenPom’s top 30. Their nonconference losses came to Virginia (in Las Vegas) and at Marquette.
In conference, Baylor started 0-3, but all three losses came in tough situations. Baylor lost at Iowa State, a top-15 team, then lost home games to TCU and Kansas State by three combined points (with an overtime period against K-State).
Oklahoma, meanwhile, is 2-4 in Big 12 play, with its two losses coming against West Virginia and Texas Tech, which are a combined 1-11 in Big 12 play.
By season’s end, Baylor will be punching near the top of the conference standings while Oklahoma fights for its postseason life near the bottom of a stacked Big 12. To get there, the Bears will need to win games like this one.
I’ll happily take Baylor with any points a sportsbook is willing to offer.
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