NCAA Tournament Betting Guide for UC Santa Barbara vs. Baylor
Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Keyonte George on Baylor and Ajay Mitchell on UC Santa Barbara.
UC Santa Barbara vs Baylor Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Ladies and gentleman, we have made it. Arguably the greatest sporting event of the entire year is here, and we’re set to dive right in on Thursday afternoon.
In this South regional matchup, we have the 3-seed Baylor Bears taking on the 14-seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
Both of these teams should bring some offensive firepower to the table, so let’s find the best betting angle of this first-round matchup.
It’s been another terrific season for the Gauchos, as Joe Pasternack’s squad won the Big West Tournament and earned their ticket into the dance.
This experienced team is looking for vengeance after losing their opening-round NCAA tournament game two years ago against Creighton.
The Gauchos will have their hands full with this talented Baylor team, but they do a lot of things extremely well that will give themselves a legitimate shot here.
First and foremost, the Gauchos pride themselves on getting clean shots up on the offensive end. They’re one of the slowest teams in the country (304th Adjusted Tempo), but they rarely turn the ball over and don’t get many shots blocked.
Their adjusted field goal percentage ranks inside the top 40, and they love to get to the free-throw line.
The Gauchos don’t get a lot of their points from behind the arc, although they sit inside the top 115 in 3-PT percentage.
Having the height advantage over a power-conference team in Round 1 is pretty rare, so I don’t expect them to slow down their production from the mid-range and inside the paint.
I don’t have many defensive concerns in this matchup, but I do think UCSB may struggle on the glass despite having the size advantage. It’s not the best rebounding team and it doesn’t block many shots.
However, the backcourt trio — Ajay Mitchell, Josh Pierre-Louis and Ajare Sanni — is more than capable of holding their own against the outstanding guards of Baylor, and they’ll all need to come up big for the Gauchos to pull off the upset.
Expect the Gauchos to have offensive success in this matchup, but the real question is whether or not they can hang on until the very end despite relying on an extremely thin rotation (343rd in bench minutes).
The average sports fan who does not follow college basketball will automatically circle the Bears to move on just solely based off of name recognition.
That’s not to say the Bears don’t have an excellent shot at moving on here, but it won’t be a walk in the park.
The Bears have been scuffling as of late, and they enter the NCAA tournament as one of the most interesting teams in the field.
We know how good this Baylor team can be when all cylinders are clicking. However, what we don’t know is if we’re going to get the team that’s been struggling the past couple of weeks.
Many will argue that this Baylor backcourt may be the best unit in the entire tournament field, led by potential NBA lottery pick Keyonte George. They should be able to have their way against this Gauchos defense, as the Bears own the second-highest offensive efficiency in the country.
The Bears are also a terrific 3-point shooting team and do an outstanding job of earning second-scoring chances.
Baylor’s offense is not what many are concerned about; it’s the struggling defense that’s been a red flag. The Bears’ defense isn’t too awful overall, but it’s certainly going to be a real liability against a strong offensive unit such as the Gauchos.
The Bears are one of the worst teams in the country in opposing 2PT field goal percentage (314th), and this is definitely an area that could cost them in this matchup due to the size mismatch.
UCSB vs Baylor Betting Pick
The Gauchos are very live in this spot. I spoke about the struggles that Baylor has been having defensively, and I think this offense should be able to put up points, especially inside the arc.
There’s legitimate concern about the Gauchos’ depth, and they may show some fatigue late in the game.
I think the talent and depth discrepancy should be enough for Baylor to hang on late. However, this is way too many points to pass up on for this talented UCSB squad.
Pick: UCSB +10.5 (Play to +9.5)
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