Saturday afternoon in college basketball will see the Baylor Bears travel to Provo to take on the Brigham Young Cougars. The game is scheduled for a 2:00 pm tipoff and will be televised live on BYUtv. Currently Brigham Young is favored by 1 point with the total being set at 139 for this game. At No. 7 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Poll, Baylor has achieved its highest ranking in program history and will look to continue its undefeated start to the season with a road trip to BYU.
Free Analysis: Baylor (8-0), off to its best start since opening 12-0 in 2000-01, has outscored opponents by an average of 23.0 points with each victory decided by double figures. In what appeared to be their first true test of the season, the Bears embarrassed previously undefeated Northwestern 69-41 in Evanston on Dec. 4. The Bears enter this game as one of the best defensive teams in the nation as they are 8th in points allowed (54.4 ppg) and 1st in defensive FG% (33.0 %). This is a very tall team that plays great interior defense. On offense, Senior Quincy Acy (12.3 ppg) has become the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000, while Pierre Jackson has provided a big spark off the bench of late, averaging 15.3 points over the last four games while making 7 of 8 from 3-point range. He's among the national leaders in 3-point shooting at 60.0 percent and his 4.4 assists per game rank first in the Big 12 among reserve players. Sophomore Perry Jones III, who was suspended for the first five games of the season, leads the Bears at 15.7 points per game. Overall on offense the Bears have put up 77.4 ppg (46th) on 49.1% shooting (19th). This is a complete team at both ends of the floor. Baylor could have its hands full against the Cougars (8-2), who have taken all but one of their last 49 home games against non-conference teams - including 19 straight by 30.4 points per game. BYU lost its only game this season against a ranked team, 73-56 to then-No. 11 Wisconsin on Nov. 26, but has since won four straight by an average of 24.0 points. Noah Hartsock, who leads the West Coast Conference with 17.3 points per game, scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to help the Cougars pull away in last Saturday's 61-42 win at Utah. Fellow senior Charles Abouo (12.3 ppg and 7.2 rpg) added 11 points and six rebounds. BYU held the Utes to 26.9 percent from the field and have limited teams to 58.5 ppg (35th) on 36.7 % shooting (19th) for the season, while on offense they have averaged 77 ppg (53rd) on 48.6% shooting (24th). BYU has dropped seven straight against ranked non-conference foes, but they do hold a 5-2 advantage in this all-time series, though the teams haven't met since 1979.
Free Pick: I'm gonna have to go with the Bears in this one. BYU has been solid at both ends of the floor, but in their only game vs a tough defensive team (Wisconsin) they were able to put up just 56 points on 43.1% shooting and they were a dismal 1-10 from long range. Baylor has great interior defense and will force the Cougars to the perimeter in this one where they struggled vs Wisconsin. The Cougars have been great on defense this year, but they have yet to see an offense as complete as this one and they just don't have the size down low to contain. Miller, Acy and Jones III. The Bears are 25-12 ATS versus teams who make 8 or more 3 point shots/game on the season since 1997, while BYU is 3-13 ATS after a game where they had 2 or less steals since 1997. The Bears are the better team here and they will give BYU just their 2nd loss in their last 51 non-conference home games.