Vegas Odds: Baylor by 10.5 -- Bet at bodog
Why Sam Houston St will win:
The Bearkats are 21-7 against D1 competition this year despite only playing 10 home games. It takes a quality team to win on the road, and Sam Houston has shown they can compete with the best by losing to Kentucky by just 10 in Lexington. They compete well away from home because their a well-oiled offensive machine and unlike most mid-major teams, scoring isn't a major issue.
Bearkat to Watch:
Gilberto Clavell, F - 17 ppg, 6 rpg, 1 apg
Only 6-6, Clavell is SHSU's best big and at times a dominant force. But at 6-6, he'll be seriously tested against Baylor's underrated Ekpe Udoh.
Why Baylor will win:
Baylor went 18-1 against teams outside of the RPI Top 50 (they lost to Alabama), and with the exception of an oddly close game against Hartford early in the year, they've put away the teams they're supposed to. SHSU has a rather blah defense (in the middle of the pack in terms of defensive efficiency), and Baylor has a Top 15 offense, so that combo is clearly in their favor.
Bear to Watch:
Anthony Jones, F - 6 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg
As noted, SHSU is relatively short, and besides Udoh, Baylor has big Josh Lomers & Anthony Jones to throw out there. Jones, at 6-10, isn't a traditional big, but his size can cause a lot of problems at times. But he's coming off 2 games in which he's scored a whopping 1 point which isn't going to cut it.
How it will go down:
Although Baylor is certainly capable of scoring, they'd be better off keeping the game focused on the half-court. SHSU can score with the best of them, so if Baylor just plans on running, they'll run into trouble. As the game wears on, Baylor will be able enforce their will on the game.. but it may take awhile.
Betting Pick: Sam Houston St
Real Pick: Baylor