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Baylor vs. Kentucky NCAA Hoops – December 6th

We had a nice college basketball run snapped last night with Ole Miss failing to cover by a single point on a late free throw.  Close, but close doesn’t count.  It goes down as a recent rare one in the loser’s column.  It’s another pretty barren landscape on the college basketball front tonight, so there’s really only one good option on the docket; Kentucky vs. Baylor.

It will be an interesting test for the Wildcats to face a team that has already squared off with an elite team on a neutral floor; Syracuse.  Kentucky has also faced an elite team on a neutral floor, but that Michigan State game was almost a month ago – eternity for a freshman-led and evolving team.

So – how much have these young Cats grown under Coach Cal?  We will find out tonight.  So let’s dig inside this matchup for a winning wagering edge.

Tonight’s Free Pick:

Kentucky Wildcats +5  vs. Baylor Bears (@ AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)

While this game isn’t on Baylor’s home floor, it is a de facto home game for the Bears.  But more importantly, it is a great Final Four simulation for both teams playing in massive and cavernous AT&T Stadium.  It is always interesting to see how shooters fare against these difficult backdrops, but I’m not sure that gives either team a definitive advantage/disadvantage as both teams rely on the three ball and both teams have a post presence to help offset shooting woes.

Baylor looked good against Syracuse.  They lost the game, but Syracuse is going to beat a ton of folks this year and are one of the most difficult road/neutral floor non-conference matchups in the country due to their unique defensive style and immense talent level and athleticism.  I think that game gives Baylor a slight edge tonight, as they have seen Kentucky-level athletes (OK, not quite a Julius Randle) and fared just fine.

I don’t think tonight is going to be a great night for Isiah Austin.  Randle and Cauley-Stein are a bit too much for him inside, but I think Baylor will use the home crowd and a deep stable of wings to offset the interior strength of Kentucky.

Here’s the biggest factor – Kentucky struggles against zone defenses.  They have for years and have especially struggled last year against these same Baylor Bears.  If Baylor can force them to shoot outside (and I think they can) they have a huge advantage.

This line keeps spreading Kentucky’s way.  It opened at 3.5 and has widened to 5.  I’m going against the herd tonight and taking the de facto home team.

Free Pick:  Baylor Bears +5

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