In the 3 vs. 6 matchup in the South region of the NCAA Tournament, the Baylor Bears take on the Creighton Bluejays with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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When: Sunday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Where: Denver, Colorado
(Odds accurate as of Friday, March 17th at 6:30 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
In Keyonte George, Baylor has one of the most dangerous perimeter players in the nation, and the Bears have two other excellent guards in Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer. All three players are a big part of the reason this Baylor team has one of the best adjusted offensive efficiency ratings in the country. And we all know what can happen when Scott Drew’s teams get hot in March, as we saw the Bears win this tournament in the 2020-21 season. This year’s group definitely has that same magic offensively, but the question is the other side of the floor. Baylor struggled defensively this season and will need to find a way to flip the switch for March Madness. Things looked good against UC Santa Barbara, but Creighton is a whole different beast.
Creighton was a popular pick to win it all before the season started, but the team started just 6-6 this year. The Bluejays have, however, righted the ship at this point, and they still have all the talent in place to make a run in March Madness. Ryan Nembhard is one of the best point guards in all of college basketball, and Baylor Scheierman is a tremendous shooter on the perimeter. Creighton also has a good center in Ryan Kalkbrenner, and Trey Alexander and Arthur Kaluma are good wing players. All in all, this starting five is as good as any in the country. Creighton also got a good test out of the way in the first round, earning a nine-point win over NC State.
It’ll be the Baylor Bears vs. Baylor Scheierman in the second round of the NCAA tournament. This is a matchup that should be extremely fun to watch, as both of these teams are loaded with talent. Baylor has the second-best offense in the nation according to KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, but Creighton is 28th in adjusted offense and 18th in adjusted defense. With that said, the Bluejays are a bit more balanced and will feel good about their chances of slowing down the Bears.
This Creighton team is much better than you’d think based on the seeding. The Bluejays were ranked ninth in the AP’s pre-season poll, but they had a rough time getting it going early in the year. However, Creighton has now found the magic formula, which makes this a rough draw for Scott Drew’s team.
The Bears have the ability to beat anybody in a track meet, as Keyonte George, Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer make up one of the best trios of guards in the nation. The issue with this Baylor squad is that it just barely cracks the top 100 when it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency. You can win the NCAA tournament on the back of a great offense, but it’s hard to do it when the defense is this bad. The Bears team that won it all two years ago was also second in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, but it was 22nd in adjusted defense on top of that.
With Baylor’s defense being this big of a question mark, it’s hard not to view Creighton as a great play to win this thing. In Scheierman, Ryan Nembhard, Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander, the Jays have four perimeter players that can shred this leaky defense. The team also has Ryan Kalkbrenner to dominate the paint. He’s coming off a 31-point performance against NC State last game, and he should make his presence felt on both ends of the floor. Baylor is one of the worst teams in college basketball when it comes to 2P% defense, so he could feast around the basket again.
Something to keep an eye on in this one is the disparity in trips to the free throw line. The Jays are second in the nation when it comes to free throw rate defense this year, which means they rarely put opponents on the line. Meanwhile, the Bears go to the free throw line regularly. If Creighton continues to do what it has done all year, this game could get away from Baylor. Attacking the rim and getting to the charity stripe is part of the Bears identity.
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