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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 7:00 AM

We stay in the Big 12 for another day because we have another battle of Top 25 teams when the #11 Iowa State Cyclones visit the #22 Baylor Bears at 9 p.m. ET in a game you can watch on ESPNU

Iowa State is undefeated through two games of league action, highlighted by a road victory against dangerous West Virginia. They may or may not be a legitimate Top 10 team at the moment. That’s a Top 10 caliber result! Beating Baylor Wednesday Night, and then Kansas on Saturday would vault the Cyclones into the big time with authority. Pay attention to this team!

For its part, Baylor is off to a disappointing 1-2 start in conference, with the only victory coming in overtime against winless TCU. No shame in losing to Oklahoma and Kansas right now. But, those were non-covers…and Baylor needs to get things figured out quick if they want to contend for the league title. It’s a deep conference, and nobody can afford to lose home games.

Let’s see how JIM HURLEY’S favorite indicator stats rate these two teams. Focusing on what really matters is always the key to winning handicapping! Data comes from Ken Pomeroy’s statistical site, a critical tool for all serious college basketball bettors.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Iowa State: 112.7 per 100 possessions (#17 in the nation)

Baylor: 111.7 per 100 possessions (#20 in the nation)

You are very likely to see and hear in the media that this is “the offense of Iowa State” vs. “the defense of Baylor. That’s because Iowa State runs-and-guns, while Baylor is one of the slowest teams in the country. When you break things down on a possession basis, the teams are virtually identical. Both are top 20. Baylor has a better offense than you realize…it’s hidden by their slow pace. Iowa State so far has been able to thrive at a fast pace, without self-destructing because of turnovers.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Iowa State: 93.6 per 100 possessions (#52 in the nation)

Baylor: 92.6 per 100 possessions (#36 in the nation)

Yes, Baylor’s defense is worse than their offense once you adjust for their tortoise like pace. They still do have the superior of these two defenses. And Iowa State’s poor performance here likely means they’re not really a Top 10 caliber team. Maybe they can fake that for awhile. Eventually, bad defense kills teams like this when it’s time to win a championship or at least play well in tournaments. And, playing at a very fast pace only makes a defense worse over time because of fatigue. Edge to Iowa State on offense, Baylor on defense.


Pace Ranking

Iowa State: #20

Baylor: #318

You longtime readers know that an extreme spread like this always means that whoever imposes their preferred pace on the game is going to win…and that it’s the HOME team that’s more likely to do this than not. Obviously, it’s vital here for Baylor to avoid the temptation to start running in front of a loud home crowd. If they can stay patient, they’ll take Iowa State out of its comfort zone while finding good looks against a vulnerable inside defense.


Against the Spread

Iowa State: 6-5

Baylor: 6-4

We have a pair of moneymakers thus far. Both have played a few non-board games, which may not be the best thing in the world when it comes to preparing for a killer conference.

JIM HURLEY loves handicapping college basketball, particularly when conference play begins. As we write this preview, Iowa State/Baylor may or may not be on the final Wednesday card. Wednesdays in college hoops are like Saturdays in college football…so many games to choose from! You will be able to purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card in the hours leading up to first tip. If you have any questions, call us weekdays during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

The college card lacks marquee power Thursday, so we’re going to move the NBA for a night to talk about the budding rivalry between Oklahoma City and Houston that will be featured on TNT. Then, it’s time to talk about CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND in the NFL Playoffs!

Thursday: NBA Preview…Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Friday: NFL Early Look…NFC Championship featuring Green Bay at Seattle

Saturday: NFL Early Look…AFC Championship featuring Indianapolis at N. England

Sunday: Bonus Football Coverage

Monday: Big Monday Basketball (Pitt at Duke, Villanova at Georgetown, or OU at Kansas)

Tuesday: College Basketball Preview…Iowa at Wisconsin

If you haven’t already talked with the office about putting together a combination package for the rest of football and basketball through March Madness…it’s time to take care of business! College hoops has heated up, and you should be winning seven days a week.

Get handicapping guidance here in the NOTEBOOK…then GO FOR THE GOLD with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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