NIT Semifinals Betting Picks: BYU Cougars vs Baylor Bears

2013 NIT Semifinals
#3 Brigham Young Cougars vs #2 Baylor Bears
Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
Opening Line: Baylor -3 1/2
Current Line: Baylor -3
Opening Total: 153
Current Total: 152 1/2
Opening Money Line: Baylor – 165 / BYU +145
Current Money Line: Baylor -160 / BYU +140

Baylor is a 3 point favorite against BYU in the NIT semifinals.
Baylor is a 3 point favorite against BYU in the NIT semifinals.

The 21-14 Baylor Bears will play the 24-11 Brigham Young Cougars in the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. The winner will face either Maryland or Iowa in Thursday’s championship game. This is the tenth ever meeting between Baylor and BYU. The Cougars lead the series 5-4, but Baylor swept a home and home last season and this season. The Bears won in Waco 79-64 December 21. BYU took an early 11 point lead, but Baylor would close the first half on a 21-2 run and would never trail again.

BYU finished third in the West Coast Conference with a 10-6 record, but they weren’t on the same level as Gonzaga or St. Mary’s. Four of their six conference losses came to those two teams. The Cougars were upset by San Diego 72-69 in the WCC quarterfinals. BYU was given a #3 seed in the NIT. The Cougars beat Washington 90-79 in the first round, and beat Mercer 90-71 in the second round Monday. Both games were in Provo. The Cougars then won at Southern Miss 79-62 in the quarterfinals last Wednesday, despite having to travel almost 1,700 miles on one day’s rest.

Baylor went 9-9 in the Big 12 and were in 6th place. The Bears lost to Oklahoma St in the Big 12 quarterfinals. The Bears were also snubbed by the NCAA, and were given a 2 seed in the NIT. Baylor had 3 home games to get here. The Bears crushed Long Beach St 112-66 in the first round, and Arizona St 89-86 in the second round. Baylor pulled away late against Providence in a 79-68 win in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.

BYU is coached by Dave Rose. The Cougars have losses to Florida St and Notre Dame in a tournament in Brooklyn, at Iowa St, Baylor, to St. Mary’s twice, Gonzaga twice, at San Diego, and at home to San Francisco. ¬† BYU has key wins over UTSA, CS-Northridge, Montana, Utah, Weber St, Virginia Tech, Utah St, Loyola Marymount twice, San Francisco, Pepperdine twice, Santa Clara twice, Portland twice, Utah St and San Diego. BYU is 16-17-1 ATS and the total is 11-15 this season.

BYU is outscoring teams 77-69 this season. The Cougars are #10 in scoring nationally. BYU is shooting 45.8% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. The Cougars make 72.8% of their free throws. BYU is #17 in rebounding with 38.8 per game, and they give up 31.6 per game. Cougar opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 33.1% from 3 point range. BYU averages 16 assists, 8 steals, 2 blocks, and 12 turnovers per game.

Guard Tyler Hawes averages 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Brandon Davies averages 17.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1 blocks per game. Guard Matt Carlino averages 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Guard Brock Zylstra averages 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal per game. Josh Sharp, Craig Cusick, and Nate Austin also get significant minutes, but none of them average more than 4.4 points per game. Sharp is questionable with an Achilles’ injury.

Baylor is coached by Scott Drew. Baylor has losses to Colorado in a tournament in Charleston, home losses to College of Charleston, Northwestern, and Oklahoma twice and at Gonzaga, Kansas, Iowa St twice, Oklahoma St twice, and Kansas St twice, and Texas. Baylor has key wins over Boston College and St. Joseph’s in Charleston, at Kentucky, Texas Tech, and TCU, and home wins against BYU, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma St, Texas Tech, West Virginia twice and Kansas. Baylor is 15-15 ATS and the total is 16-13 this season.

Baylor is outscoring teams 76-67. They are #21 in scoring. The Bears are shooting 45.9% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. The Bears make 68.6% of their free throws. Baylor averages 37.6 rebounds per game and give up 31.1 per game. The Bears are #45 in rebounding. Baylor opponents are shooting 41.1% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. The Bears average 16 assists, 7 steals, 5 blocks and 12 turnovers per game.

Baylor guard Pierre Jackson averages 19.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Center Isaiah Austin averages 12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game.  Forward Cory Jefferson averages 12.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Guard Brady Heslip averages 8.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Guard A.J. Walton averages  7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Rico Gathers, Gary Franklin, and Deuce Bello make up the rest of the rotation.

BYU is 4-0-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 5-1 in non-conference games, 4-1 in Tuesday games, 17-35-1 after a cover, 0-4 against Big 12 teams, and in neutral site games.

Baylor is 5-0 ATS against WCC teams, 4-1 in Tuesday games, overall, against teams with winning records, and in non-conference games, and 9-22 after a cover.

Both BYU and Baylor struggled down the stretch, but are playing some of their bask basketball of the season in the NIT. Both teams have top 25 scoring offenses but struggle on defense. This should be a high scoring game. Neither team has much size. I like Baylor to win, but it will be much closer than when they played in December in Waco.

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