Baylor vs. Michigan State Odds, Picks & Predictions: Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Betting Preview (Friday, Nov. 26)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.
Editors Note (10:04 a.m. ET): This betting preview for Baylor vs. Michigan State was originally published on Friday, Nov. 26 around 6 a.m. ET.
Since then, the over/under has fallen precipitously — from 139.5 at open to 135.5 as of writing. The point spread has also swelled from Baylor -5.5 to as high as Baylor -6.5 across the betting market.
Baylor vs. Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Michigan State Odds|
-110o / -110u
The Battle 4 Atlantis has lived up to the hype and then some, delivering several tremendous games already (like UConn’s and Auburn’s double-overtime clash on Day 1).
We’re hoping for at least one more classic on Friday in the championship game, where Michigan State takes on Baylor.
Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Bracket
Bracket updated as of Friday morning on Nov. 26.
After barely sneaking into the NCAA Tournament in 2021, Tom Izzo knew he needed improvement at the point guard spot, and so far, the upgrade has been palpable.
Both sides of the point guard platoon have made key plays. Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker threw the game-winning alley-oop on Wednesday, “the rare onions pass.”
And sophomore AJ Hoggard bounced a beautiful transition dime to Julius Marble in the final minute against UConn to cut the deficit to one. As those two continue to emerge, Michigan State becomes a more viable Big Ten contender.
Izzo’s team also entered the season with questions in the frontcourt. He had bodies — Marcus Bingham, Malik Hall, Marble, Joey Hauser, Mady Sissoko — but the actual minutes distribution and production from that group was up for debate. Through two games in Atlantis, the answers have started to emerge.
Hall was dynamite against Loyola on Wednesday, shooting a perfect 9-for-9 from the field en route to a career-high 24 points. Marble made big play after big play down the stretch against UConn. And Bingham has raised his offensive game while cutting down on fouling, enabling him to play bigger minutes as one of the country’s best rim protectors.
In a relatively surprising rise, the Spartans now lead the entire country in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Most notably, the interior defense has elevated back into nationally elite territory. Foes are converting just 39.2% inside the arc, the 10th-best rate in the country. That’s a staple of Izzo’s best units, and last year’s team fell to 108th in that category.
The Spartans will need another humongous effort on this end against the reigning national champs.
Though Baylor lost four starters from its National Championship squad, this Bears team is hardly in a rebuild. Scott Drew has been loading up on talent for years now, and his player development has risen to new heights, as well.
That means Baylor remains a top 10 team, unquestionably, and there’s an outside chance it’s in the top two with Gonzaga once again.
The Bears may not be better defensively, per se, but they are more versatile. Freshmen Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan plus senior Matthew Mayer can all guard four or five positions, enabling Drew to switch screens more frequently. And transfer point guard James Akinjo has proven to be a menace on the ball and in passing lanes, generating steals at a high rate.
Akinjo has also stepped in as a key creator offensively, racking up 40 assists in six games. Sophomore LJ Cryer and Mayer have emerged into go-to scorers, helping fill the void left by Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and MaCio Teague.
Even the Bears’ two-headed center monster of Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Flo Thamba have provided some scoring pop.
Michigan State vs. Baylor Betting Pick
Michigan State was terrific in the first half against UConn, committing just four turnovers against an excellent UConn defense. However, that number doubled to eight in the second half.
The Spartans also benefited greatly from reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year Isaiah Whaley sitting out after fainting on Wednesday.
The Spartans now face one of the most disruptive defenses in the country. Akinjo will make life miserable for the Walker/Hoggard tandem, both of whom are still getting acclimated into their new roles. Brown and Sochan will wreak havoc off the ball. The Spartans also likely will not shoot 46% from deep again.
Baylor is simply a different level of beast. The Bears are big, deep, and immensely talented, and the perimeter group remains deadly, led by Akinjo, Cryer, and Adam Flagler.
Baylor will also pound the offensive glass, an area of some concern for the Spartans — they have surrendered 10+ offensive rebounds in five straight games.
Ultimately, I think Baylor gets up early and maintains a lead throughout the game, withstanding a couple runs from a resilient Spartan squad.
I would take the Bears up to -6 and then smaller at -6.5 or -7.