West Regional Semifinals Betting Preview: #6 Baylor Bears vs #2 Wisconsin Badgers

2014 NCAA Tournament
West Regional Semifinals

#6 Baylor Bears vs #2 Wisconsin Badgers
Honda Center – Anaheim, California
Thursday, March 27, 2014, 7:45 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
Opening Line: Wisconsin -3
Current Line: Wisconsin -3 1/2
Opening Total: 136 1/2
Current Total: 136 1/2
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -145 / Baylor +125
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -165 / Baylor +145

Wisconsin is a 3 point favorite against Baylor in the West Regional semifinal Thursday in Anaheim.
Wisconsin is a 3 point favorite against Baylor in the West Regional semifinal Thursday in Anaheim.

Both the 26-11 Baylor Bears and 28-7 overcame bad January’s to not only make the NCAA Tournament but advance to the Sweet 16. Baylor went 2-6 in the month, while Wisconsin went 4-4. The two schools meet for the first time ever Thursday night in the West Regional semifinal in Anaheim. The winner between the #6 seeded Bears and #2 seeded Badgers will meet either #1 Arizona or #4 San Diego State in the regional final Saturday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

Baylor went 9-9 in the Big 12 and tied for sixth with West Virginia. Baylor was seeded 7th in the Big 12 Tournament, and made it all the way to the Championship game. The Bears beat Oklahoma in the quarters and Texas in the semifinals, before losing 74-65 to Iowa State in the championship game. Baylor is making their third trip to the sweet 16 in the last 5 seasons. The Bears beat #11 seed Nebraska 74-60 in Friday’s second round and crushed #3 seed Creighton 85-55 in the third round. (No word on whether Baylor will get rings for being Nebraska state champs.) Baylor played both of their NCAA Tournament games in San Antonio.

Wisconsin tied with Michigan State at 12-6 for second in the Big Ten behind Michigan. The Badgers lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals. Wisconsin crushed #15 seed American 75-35 in the second round Thursday, and came back from a 12 point halftime deficit against #7 seed Oregon to win 85-77. Wisconsin played both NCAA tournament games in nearby Milwaukee. The Badgers are making their fourth trip to the Sweet 16 since 2008.

Baylor is coached by Scott Drew. The Bears have losses to Syracuse in the Maui Invitational, Iowa State twice, at Texas Tech, Oklahoma twice, Kansas twice, Texas twice,  and West Virginia. Baylor has key wins over Colorado in Dallas, South Carolina, Dayton in Maui, Kentucky in Arlington, TX, Oral Roberts, TCU twice, Oklahoma State twice, Kansas State twice, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas. The Bears are 15-13-2 ATS and the total is 15-13-1 this season.

Baylor is outscoring teams 75-68 this season. The Bears are shooting 45.9% from the field and 39.2% from 3 point range. Baylor is #24 nationally  in three point shooting. The Bears are #250 nationally out of 351 teams in free throw shooting making 67.8% from the line. Baylor opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. Baylor is #238 nationally in 3 point defense. The Bears average 38.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.8 per game. Baylor is #28 in rebounding and #53 in rebounds allowed nationally. The Bears average 15 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 5.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 15.1 assists, 10.4 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.

Baylor forward Cory Jefferson averages 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Brady Heslip averages 11.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Guard Kenny Chery averages 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Center Isaiah Austin averages 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 3.2 blocks per game. Forward Royce O’Neale averages 7.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Forward Taurean Prince averages 6.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Forward Rico Gathers averages 6.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1 steal per game. Gary Franklin, and Ish Wainwright will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Guard Allerik Freeman is out indefinitely with a broken hand, and hasn’t played yet this season.

Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have losses at Indiana, Michigan, at Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State at Nebraska, and Michigan State. Wisconsin has key wins over St. John’s in Sioux Falls, SD, Florida, at Green Bay, Bowling Green, Oral Roberts, Saint Louis and West Virginia both in a tournament in Cancun, at Virginia, Marquette, Milwaukee, at Northwestern, Iowa twice, Illinois twice, Purdue twice. Michigan State, Minnesota twice, at Michigan, Indiana and at Penn State. The Badgers are 19-16 ATS and the total is 19-15 this season.

Wisconsin is outscoring teams 74-64. The Badgers are #41 in points allowed nationally. Wisconsin is shooting 46% from the field and 37.6% from 3 point range. The Badgers make 74.4% of their free throws. Wisconsin is #29 in free throw shooting nationally. Badger opponents are shooting 43.1% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 33.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 29 per game. The Badgers average 12.1 assists, 8.1 turnovers, 5 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 9.9 turnovers, 4.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.

Forward Frank Kaminsky averages 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. Guard Ben Brust averages 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Forward Sam Dekker averages 12.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.   Guard Traevon Jackson averages 10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Guard Josh Gasser averages 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Forward Nigel Hayes averages 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Duje Dukan, Bronson Koenig,  and George Marshall will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Baylor is 6-1 ATS in Thursday games, and against teams with winning records, 4-1 overall and in neutral site games, 11-4 in non-conference games, and 5-2 after a straight up win.

Wisconsin is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games, 7-1 against Big 12 teams, 6-1 in neutral site games, 5-1 in NCAA Tournament games, and 1-4 after a straight up win.

Both of teams have been fixtures in the Sweet 16 the last few seasons, but they have never played each other before. Baylor seems to be playing their baest basketball of the season. This should be a relatively low scoring game with 2 good defensive teams. I think the Bears have a good shot at pulling off the upset.

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