Baylor guard James Akinjo handles the ball during an NCAA college basketball game against Central Arkansas in Waco, Texas, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
No. 6 Baylor is a 11.5-point favorite over Arizona State
Baylor is 4-0 straight up, 3-1 ATS
Arizona State is 2-2, 1-3 ATS
No, 6 Baylor (4-0) is an 11.5-point favorite over Arizona State in the first round of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday at 7:30 pm ET at the Imperial Arena in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Arizona State (2-2) and Baylor were scheduled to meet in the 2020-21 season opener at the 2K Empire Classic in Uncasville, N.Y., but the game was cancelled when Bears’ coach Scott Drew tested positive for COVID-19.
Baylor vs Arizona State Odds
Over 143.5 (-110)
Arizona State Sun Devils
Under 143.5 (-110)
Odds from FanDuel on Nov. 23.
Baylor has won its first four games by an average of 34.8 points, and no game has been closer than 27. The Bears blew out Pac-12 Stanford 86-48 in its last game Friday. Stanford (+5500) is listed just ahead of Arizona State (+6000) in DraftKings’ odds to win the Pac-12 title.
Baylor (+700) is the third choice to win the Big 12 behind Kansas (+140) and Texas (+220). The Bears were -10.5 when the line was first posted. It moved to -12 before coming back a tick.
Build Back Baylor
So far, it has been difficult to tell that Baylor lost the soul of its 2021 national championship team with the departures of Big 12 Player of the Year Jared Butler, NABC Defensive Player of the Year Davion Mitchell and third-team all conference MaCio Teague.
Returning guard LJ Cryer is averaging 18.5 points per game and has made 14 3-pointers while coming off the bench in three of the first four. Arizona graduate transfer James Akinjo is averaging 10.3 points and 8.0 assists with 11 steals as the primary ball-handler. He is third in Division I in assists per game.
Then there is 6’8 wing Kendall Brown, a McDonald’s high school All American a year ago and the first player in program history to be named the Big 12 preseason freshman of the year.
Brown is averaging 15 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in four starts, and he was two rebounds short of a triple-double in his second career game when he had 13 points and 10 assists in an 89-60 victory over Nicholls State.
This is an @LjCryer appreciation post.#SicEm | #CultureofJOY 🏀 pic.twitter.com/yg8IZBGrGA
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) November 20, 2021
Baylor is ranked fourth in KenPom in adjusted efficiency margin and is the only team ranked in the top six in both adjusted offensive efficiency (fifth) and adjusted defensive efficiency (sixth). No. 4 Kansas and No. 20 Michigan are the only other teams in the top 10 in both categories.
The Bears are shooting 50.4 percent from the field and have held opponents to 37.9 percent. They are fourth in Division I in scoring margin at plus-34.8.
ASU Close, No Cigar
A couple of close losses, including a very bad beat, have cost the Sun Devils a 4-0 start. Arizona State blew a nine-point lead in the second half of its last game, falling to San Diego State 65-63 on a floater with 1:05 left. The Sun Devils missed three 3-pointers in the final 16 seconds.
UC Riverside beat Arizona State on a miracle, 65-foot buzzer beater as time expired in a 66-65 upset in Tempe in the second game of the season after a Sun Devil played gambled but could not come up with inbounds pass before the shot.
Fifth-year senior Kimani Lawrence, 6’8, in averaging a double-double, 16.0 points and 10.0 rebonds, and makes hustle plays that otherwise don’t show up.
Toledo graduate transfer Marreon Jackson, the 2021 Mid American Conference Player of the Year, is averaging 9.3 points and 4.3 assists. Along with fellow transfers Luther Mohammad (Ohio State) DJ Horne (Illinois State) and Jay Heath (Boston College), Jackson is trying to fill the large void created when Remy Martin transferred to Kansas and Alonzo Verge transferred to Nebraska.
First Team All-MAC & MAC POY
40.3/34.8/90.4 Shooting Splits
“I’m just a dog. Plain and simple.” – @Marreon_Jackson
— Earned Not Given (@EarnedTV) November 10, 2021
Arizona State 6’8 forward Marcus Bagley, projected to be a first-round 2022 NBA draft choice after pulling his name from the draft last summer, missed the San Diego State game because of a knee injury suffered in the previous game against North Florida. His status is unknown.
2022 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
Atlantis as a Gauge
The tenth Battle 4 Atlantis includes one of the most challenging preseason tournament fields, as it often does, the better to used as an early measuring stick
The Baylor-Arizona State winner will meet the winner of the game between No. Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth in one side of the bracket. No. 19 Auburn, No. 22 UConn, Michigan State and Loyola are on the other side.
……Stay tuned here as we kick off our @badboymowers Men’s #Battle4Atlantis in less than 48 hours! 😮👍🏼🏝🏀 pic.twitter.com/lPE5CaAtmv
— Battle4AtlantisOfficial (@B4AOfficial) November 23, 2021
Baylor won the Battle 4 Atlantis in 2016, beating Virginia Commonwealth and Michigan State before erasing a 22-point deficit to beat Louisville in the title game. Villanova (2017), Virginia (2018), and Michigan (2019) are the most recent winners. The tournament was not held last season because of the pandemic.
By the Numbers
All four Arizona State games have finished under the total. Baylor is 2-2 against the total and has gone under in the last two. Baylor has won 28 straight non-conference games. The Bears were 5-0 ATS in their final five NCAA tournament games a year ago.
Baylor has had no trouble so far this season, and rebuilt Arizona State does not match up well, especially if Bagley misses another game because of his knee injury.
The pick: Baylor -11.5 (-110)