No. 21 Texas A&M at Baylor – 8 p.m. ESPNU
Baylor limps into Saturday having lost three straight Big 12 games, while Texas A&M enters the first of two difficult road tests with the hope of securing a No. 3 seed in the league tournament.Texas A&M: The Aggies have won five consecutive games since their February 5 home loss to… Baylor. Those wins came against arguably the league’s five weakest teams. Texas A&M (22-5, 9-4) isn’t a high scoring team, but is consistent, having averaged around 70 points per game this month.
A&M and Baylor are different in that while the Aggies don’t have a go-to player, Baylor relies too much on one. As we’ve written here before, Texas A&M can get a big lift from several different players. It’s not surpring to see David Loubeau, Nathan Walkup, B.J. Holmes or Khris Middleton make the most significant contribution in a game.
If we assume a loss at Kansas and a win against Texas Tech to close out the season, a win here would put the Aggies in position to finish 11-5. An 11-5 record would guarantee the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament based on their overtime win over Missouri earlier in the season.
Baylor: Meanwhile, the Bears (17-10, 6-7) rely too much on LaceDarius Dunn for offense. With such a tall frontcourt, they ought to get more easy baskets than they do. They were outrebounded at Missouri, a poor rebounding team, thanks largely to the first half effort of the Tigers’ Ricardo Ratliffe. At the same time, Dunn struggled offensively, and the Bears’ brief run to start the second half was the only time they didn’t look overwhelmed. Throughout the game, they missed a ton of baskets inside.
At the moment, it’s unlikely Baylor would make the tournament. A win Saturday would bring the team’s conference record to .500, but the Bears are left with a road game against Oklahoma State and a home game against Texas. Both games will be challenging.
In the previous matchup, won by Baylor by two points in OT, the Bears shot 52 percent from the field while holding Texas A&M to 43 percent. Baylor made 7 out of 16 three-pointers, which hasn’t been replicated enough since then.
The Oklahoma win was probably Texas A&M’s most complete win in a month. Baylor should look better at home than it has lately, but I anticipate the Aggies sneak away with a win in Waco. Expect a good effort from Baylor which must start winning games for a chance at an at-large NCAA bid.
Texas A&M 71, Baylor 65