Iowa State Cyclones (20-11) (16-15 ATS) vs. Baylor Bears (19-12) (16-13-2 ATS)
NCAA BB: Thursday, March 14th, 2019 at 12:30 pm ET (Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO)
Spread: Baylor +3
The Big 12’s #4 Baylor Bears and #5 Iowa State Cyclones kick off tourney play in their debuts. Three straight defeats, injuries, and struggles on the court have plagued the teams. One will restore order with a win and will move on to face either Kansas State or TCU.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State’s season mirrors Baylor’s. An injury to last year’s starter Lindell Wiggington slowed progress and transitioned him to a sixth man role. That’s both positive and negative as he’s gained more comfort and improved performance from the bench but the team has struggled even as he’s returned since Big 12 competition went underway. He’s still the second leading scorer for Iowa State with 13.42 PPG and shoots a decent 38.3% from three land. Wiggington has also scored over 16 a game against the last three opponents. The leading scorer above him this year is Virginia transfer Mariol Shayok (18.67 PPG, 5.10 RPG) but he’s also bugged with an injury and had to sit one game.
Another resemblance between these two squads is the straight up and spread records. As of late, both teams have struggled compared to their early non-conference success. And the Cyclones are currently spinning erratically having lost six of their last eight. They’re still the 23rd most offensive efficient team and are 23rd in FGM/game, but with the three losses, were no where near as efficient on offense. Despite this recent negative trend, offense is where they differ from Baylor as the ‘Clones are more well rounded there. Elsewhere, they’re 30th in scoring margin and 15th in assist-turnover ratio. Defense is where they can use some assisting. They’re 30th in blocks per contest but are 231st in opponent 3PM/game and 164th in FGM/game.
The Bears have been nagged with injuries over the course of 2019. Down went forward Tristan Clark just as Big 12 play took off and Baylor was hit again shortly after when Makai Mason had to miss some time. The Bears have lost an enormous chunk of their big man capabilities with rebounding/blocking. Clark averaged 6.29 RPG and 2.43 BPG. Makai Mason’s production is also complimentary with 15.55 PPG, 3.25 APG and Baylor’s been stung in production ever since he’s been hurt. On the bright side, Baylor has five other players scoring more than six points a game.
Baylor’s lost their last three games including the final one where Mason sat out to nurse an injury. Reports say he’s back, however, and he will be major as he’s averaged near 20 PPG in the two combined contests versus the Cyclones. The offensive efficency ranks 97th which is a good thing because with Clark and Mason being hurt, they’re still a bit efficient. With Clark down, the defensive presence has remained. Freddie Gillespie has stepped into Clark’s role nicely and has averaged more than one block per game over the last 10 contests, when through January, he only had 4 blocks all year. BU’s 56th nationally in opponents’ effective field goal percentage (48.1%) and they’re stout limiting opponent field goals (46th in opponent FGM/game).
Cyclones are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games
2-8 ATS in its last 10 contests
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Iowa State’s last 13 games
Baylor is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games vs. Iowa State
0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
1-5-2 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
Both times these teams played it was extremely close. I can definitely see a push happening. So give me Baylor earning the trifecta and cover in a game where one more possession can possibly give the other team the advantage.