Oklahoma State vs. Baylor Betting Preview

Jan 23, 2021; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Baylor Bears guard Jared Butler (12) dribbles while defended by Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Avery Anderson III (0) during the first half at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Buckle up for what should be a memorable Big 12 Tournament semifinal between the no. 2 Baylor Bears and the no. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Being played at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, the Bears are 9-point favorites over Oklahoma State, with the over/under set at 151 points.

Despite winning six of their last seven games to close out the regular season, the Cowboys were only the no. 5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Oklahoma State’s one loss during that span was an 81-70 road defeat against Baylor. However, the Cowboys beat West Virginia on the road to finish the regular season and survived another close battle with the Mountaineers on Thursday to reach Friday’s semifinal with a 19-7 record.

Meanwhile, the Bears are sitting pretty at 22-1 and will be a no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens on Friday. Of course, Baylor played on Thursday as if there wasn’t much on the line, narrowly escaping a test from Kansas State 74-68. Nevertheless, the Bears survived and have now won four in a row since suffering their only loss of the season.

Same Old Bears

While Baylor’s quarterfinal game on Thursday was closer than expected, there was nothing different about the team’s offensive performance. The Bears shot 53% from the field against Kansas State and 41% from the three-point range. The only caveat is that Baylor was sloppy with the ball, turning it over 21 times. Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell combined for 13 of those turnovers, which is a tad unusual.

Of course, Baylor has the firepower to overcome a little sloppiness. Four of the team’s top five scorers are shooting over 40% from three-point range, making the Bears a nightmare to guard on the perimeter. With the way Baylor’s guards can drive and kick while also pushing the tempo, committing 20-plus turnovers is the only thing that can slow them down.

The Chosen One

With every subsequent game, Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham seems to get better and better. He dropped 40 points in a win over Oklahoma last month and had 24 points in last week’s loss to Baylor. He’s now averaging 19.7 points per game on the season, not to mention being second on the team in both rebounds and assists. Cunningham has become a one-man wrecking crew late in the season.

In fairness, Oklahoma State’s supporting cast is better than people realize. The Cowboys have six players who average over eight points per game, which means their offensive production outside of Cunningham is spread out. The player to watch is point guard Isaac Likekele, who leads the Cowboys in both rebounds and assists. Thursday’s game was just the second Likekele has played in over a month because of a foot injury. However, he shook off some of the rust with 10 points and seven rebounds and will be key if Oklahoma State is going to win the Big 12 Tournament.

Who Wants It?

It’s fair to question how much Baylor cares about the Big 12 Tournament after a sloppy performance on Thursday. There are no such questions for Oklahoma State, who is being led by a top-5 draft pick. Bet on the Cowboys to keep this close and beat the 9-point spread.

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