Baylor vs. Texas Free NCAA Basketball Picks for February 28

Guard James Akinjo #11 of the Baylor Bears. John E. Moore III/Getty Images/AFP

Baylor and Texas meet in a battle of Big 12 teams. Here’s betting advice for the high-profile game. The top sportsbooks have released their odds for tonight’s game between Baylor and Texas. Baylor is coming off a huge home win against Kansas.

The Bears will look to maintain their momentum by beating a Longhorn squad that, like Baylor, is enjoying a multi-game winning streak.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the total for this game.

Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns

Monday, February 28, 2022 – 9:00 PM EST at Frank Erwin Center 

Texas’ Defensive Weakness 

On defense, Texas lacks a true rim protector. Its weakness in rim protection is evident in the fact that, while ranking highly in limiting opposing three- and two-point percentage, the Longhorns rank seventh in the conference in block percentage.

Their starting center, Christian Bishop, is all of 6-7, 220 pounds. His lack of size allows opposing centers to manhandle him in front of the basket.

Moreover, rim-attacking guards and forwards benefit from their teammates using their size to seal off Bishop — and Texas’ other small centers — in order to create space for those rim-attackers at the basket.

This weakness in rim protection helps explain Texas’ recent 61-55 loss at home to Texas Tech. 61 points isn’t a lot to allow, but the fact that the Red Raiders only made three threes in that game shows the extent to which their offensive success relied on scoring at the basket.

Fortunately for Texas, Baylor is precisely the team to fail to take advantage of the Longhorns’ defensive weakness. The Bears attempt the 16th-lowest rate of field goals at the rim in the nation.

They miss their beast of a center, 6-8, 245-pounder Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to injury. He could have helped Texas immensely tonight because he ranks 14th nationally in two-point percentage with most of his shot attempts coming at the rim.

Forget Part of the First Game 

One may ask: so what if Baylor misses its star center? He barely saw the floor in the Bears’ 80-63 victory over Texas. But I say that we need to forget the Longhorn defense in that game when breaking down this one.

In order to see what I mean, just watch at least extended highlights of that game and compare those highlights with highlights from Texas’ other games. The way that Longhorn defenders were beat off the dribble and the energy that Baylor players summoned in transition all created a situation for Texas that was energetically exacerbated by the energy of the Baylor fans.

If you don’t trust my judgment, which is based on what I am seeing, then consider that Texas is allowing 17.9 more points per game on the road than at home. This is an insane disparity and it exists despite the fact that Texas has played Kansas at home but not on the road.

Forget, therefore, what you saw from Texas’ defense in that game. The Longhorns have one of the most efficient defenses in the nation and in the conference despite their unparalleled struggles on the road. 

But now they are at home, so those road struggles do not matter anymore.

Motion Offense

But do not forget Texas’ offensive struggles against Baylor because they will repeat themselves — also recall that Texas shot above itself from beyond the arc in that game and still only mustered 63 points.

The Longhorns run a motion offense under current coach Chris Beard. This is a very active sort of offense with a lot of off-ball screens and general off-ball movement. While point guard Marcus Carr merits criticism, other Longhorn players are expected to assume more point guard-type responsibilities in this brand of offense.

These players, collectively, do not have the ability to get open, create favorable scoring opportunities, and knockdown buckets against good defenses. They struggled not only at Baylor but averaged 59.5 points in two games against Texas Tech and mustered 52 points at home against Tennessee.

In order words, every defense rated higher than theirs in efficiency stymied their motion offense.

Texas’ Defense

Longhorn defenders force a lot of one-on-one, iso situations for the opposing offense. Off-ball defenders will help inside, converging towards a ball-handler as he attacks the basket. But overall they do a great job of sticking to their man.

Consequently, Baylor point guard James Akinjo will be forced to be more of an individual scorer than a facilitator. Problematically, he wants to be more of a facilitator or perhaps rather should want to be one because he is very inefficient as a scorer.

He has by far the lowest effective field goal percentage among regular contributors on Baylor. He’ll struggle to get his usual assist total against a Longhorn defense that is statistically the best in the Big 12 at limiting the opponent’s assist-to-field goals made ratio.

In other words, arguably Baylor’s most important offensive player will not be himself tonight. 

Akinjo will be far from his best and his statistically already evident tendency to turn the ball over will be magnified by Longhorn digging from the perimeter and the occasional Longhorn double-team against a ball-handler far behind the arc.

The Verdict 

Baylor lacks the personnel to exploit Texas’ weakness protecting the basket while, benefitting from playing at home, Texas’ pressure and defensive style will prevent Akinjo from compensating for his team’s disinclination to attack the basket.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns’ lackluster motion offense will face another difficult test. Well-organized and filled with tough on-ball defenders, Baylor’s high-ranked defense will help keep this game low-scoring. For the above reasons, play the ‘under’ with your best bets.

NCAAB Pick: Under 136 (-110) with FanDuel