Final Four: Barrera's Breakdown


Photo Cred: cbssports.com


The college basketball season is in its last weekend, with the Final Four on Saturday, and the Title game on Monday. A lot to discuss here, so let’s get right to It.


Baylor v Houston

There are two narratives that are being hammered home this week. First, Houston beat double-digit seeded teams in each of their tournament wins. Second, the Cougars have only played one team in the top 30 KenPom rankings this season (Texas Tech). Additionally, they have only played 2 teams in the top 50 KenPom rankings (Texas Tech and the NIT Champ Memphis Tigers). Coach Sampson’s squad, although a solid group, has not faced a team quite like Baylor before.


Breaking down both sides of the ball, let’s start with Baylor. The Bears have been a great shooting team all season, and are first in the nation from 3 (41.1%). Davion Mitchell has played well this March, and showed his dominance against Arkansas. From a defensive standpoint, the Bears are excellent at forcing turnovers. Although Baylor is not the strongest team on the defensive glass, Coach Drew’s athletes are tough matchups for any roster.


On to Houston. As I mentioned above, the Cougar’s schedule may have inflated their ranking. That said, they’re not frauds either. Quentin Grimes had a nice game vs the Beavers and shot 40% from deep. Dejeon Jarreau was the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and he did a solid job limiting Ethan Thompson to 11 points. When looking at statistics, Houston’s backcourt takes care of the basketball, which of course will be their strength vs Baylor’s defense. What troubles me though is how the Cougars stop Baylor. Jarreau is only one player, and even if he’s guarding Davion, the rest of the offense is lethal. Houston also allows 21 FTA per game, so I’m sure Coach Drew is telling his players to attack the lane at will.


The spread is sitting at -5, so I want to touch on the Gambling numbers too. The Bears have had a nice run in the tournament, as well as vs non-conference (75% ATS for both categories). They’re also strong off 4+ days of rest with a 7-2 record ATS. Finally, Baylor is 64.3% as the favorite.


Houston also does well with time off, as they’re 72.7% ATS on 4+ days rest. Despite being 1-0 as the underdog, the other numbers for Houston aren’t exactly appealing. The Cougars are only 6-4 against non-conference opponents, and 2-2 during the NCAA Tournament.


Conclusion

The betting numbers suggest that the Big 12 Bears are ready to take care of business. Additionally, I think Cougars struggle on both sides of the ball. They will have to pick their poison with Baylor’s elite offense. Houston will also need to shoot well, despite being 205t