Time to bear down on Baylor

February 5, 2019 11:54 PM

Don’t hibernate on the Baylor Bears!

While media coverage of the Big 12 has prominently centered on whether Kansas will finally be dethroned as conference champions, Baylor has stunned the league with upset after upset.

Betting markets have priced Baylor as underdogs in seven of its eight Big 12 games. The Bears lead the league with 6-2 straight up record. Look at the cover margins in some of these upsets . . .

Bears on the Prowl

Baylor (plus 2) beat Iowa State 73-70

Baylor (plus 3) beat Oklahoma State 73-69

Baylor (plus 3.5) beat Texas Tech 73-62

Baylor (plus 2.5) beat W. Virginia 85-73

Baylor (plus 5.5) beat Oklahoma 77-47

The last three on the list were double-digit covers. Baylor beat expectations by 35.5 points over Oklahoma, then almost matched that this past Saturday in a 90-64 win over TCU as favorites of -4.5 points. At least the market finally made Baylor a favorite. 

Baylor will likely be a short road underdog Wednesday night at Texas, depending on whether sharps and the public are ready to jump on the bandwagon. VSiN estimates “market” Power Ratings by looking at the most recent point spreads. After allotting 3 points as a standard home-court advantage, we build a scale that attempts to reflect “neutral-court” differentials. Here’s our latest for the Big 12 heading into Wednesday action:

Big 12 “market” Power Ratings: Iowa State 84, Kansas 84, Texas Tech 83, Baylor 81, Kansas State 81, Texas 80, TCU 79, Oklahoma 79, West Virginia 74, Oklahoma State 73.

You can tweak those on the fly Wednesday as lines settle in Baylor-Texas and Oklahoma State-TCU. The sum intelligence of oddsmakers and respected money still gives Kansas a fair shot to claim at least a share of the conference crown, though we'll see how the Jayhawks fare after Tuesday's loss to Kansas State. For now, the market isn’t yet buying Baylor as a threat to maintain its strong early form. And it’s worth nothing that Baylor still has to visit the top three teams on our ladder.

Bears backers are hoping market disrespect continues for awhile longer. Baylor is 10-1 against the spread its last 11 games. That includes 7-1 ATS in league play, along with a 73-68 home win over Alabama as favorites of -3.5 points in the Big 12-SEC challenge, an 84-44 annihilation of New Orleans as 20-point favorites in the final pre-conference tune-up, and a 57-47 home grinder over Oregon laying 5. 

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Baylor play, it’s in a class of teams we’ve discussed prior on these pages. The Bears are very slow-paced, ranking near #300 nationally out of 353 teams in adjusted pace by Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com). That misleads some casual observers into thinking “great defense, bad offense.” Once you adjust for pace, Baylor is balanced. Pomeroy ranked the Bears #29 on offense, #26 on defense (adjusted efficiency) entering the new week.

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