Know Your Top Five Rival: Baylor Bears

LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.

Two things to note about the data below:

1) It reaffirms the fact that Baylor is, in fact, a very, very good team.

2) It affirms the fact that Missouri has their own set of matchup advantages. Maybe that doesn't mean anything until the two teams meet in three weeks in Columbia, but it is certainly a nice discovery. As good/long as Baylor is, they do have weaknesses Mizzou can exploit with their own strengths. Something to keep in mind.

Baylor Bears (17-1)


BU
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
68.1
Points Per Minute
1.93
1.53
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14
0.90
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.39
1.07
2-PT FG% 52.7%
41.0%
3-PT FG% 40.9%
32.7%
FT% 73.1%
65.1%
True Shooting % 59.5%
47.1%




BU Opp.
Assists/Gm 16.0
11.6
Steals/Gm 9.1
6.9
Turnovers/Gm 14.9
16.4
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.69
1.13




BU Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 11.1
13.6
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 11.9
12.7
Difference +0.8
-0.9

For Baylor, the stereotype doesn't necessarily match the product at this point. Yes, the Bears are tall, but they were tall last year. The reason they have transformed into a top five (well, probably top ten when the next polls come out) team is because of length, shooting, defense and some incredible bench contributions. They are a solid rebounding team (though not as good as their size would suggest), and they block every other shot near the rim, but they shoot lights-out from long range, and they turn you over quite a bit. They got exposed a bit in Lawrence, but let's face it, everybody gets exposed in Lawrence. This is still an outstanding, well-rounded team.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

BU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

BU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 11
52
BU
Effective FG% 14
92
BU
Turnover % 227
54
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 40
107
BU
FTA/FGA 108
15
MU
MU Offense vs BU Defense Ranks

MU Offense BU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 2
14
Push
Effective FG% 3
25
MU
Turnover % 2
35
MU
Off. Reb. % 154 220
MU
FTA/FGA 91
55
BU

Where the Bears are weakest

All of the compliments above shouldn't detract from the fact that Baylor does in fact have some weaknesses. They allow far more offensive rebounds than you probably expect (likely a product of both zone defense and the fact that they go for a ton of blocks), they foul quite a bit considering the zone play, and they turn the ball over like crazy (they rank 227th in Off. TO% and 176th in Off. Steal%). Against Missouri, you have to take care of the ball, or else it doesn't matter what kind of talent you have strewn about the court.

The Bears also rank 128th in Def. 3PT%. If players like Marcus Denmon and Mike Dixon can find the range on their jumpers (typically a huge 'if' on the road), they could find enough opportunities to do some damage.

Where they are best

If you don't make your 3-pointers, and you don't force turnovers, you probably have no chance. That goes for Missouri and anybody else. Baylor erases a good portion of shots near the rim -- they rank 18th in Effective Height, 12th in Def. 2PT% and 12th in Def. Block%. They also force quite a few more turnovers than you expect from a zone (35th in Def. TO%, 13th in Def. Steal%).

Oh yeah, and Baylor is also really deep (66th in Bench Minutes), and they shoot really, really well. They rank 46th in Off. 2PT% and, more importantly, 14th in Off. 3PT%. We know all about Perry Jones III, and somehow Quincy Acy still has eligibility left, but players like Pierre Jackson (48% on 3-pointers), Brady Heslip (48%) and Quincy Miller (39%) contribute just as much to the Baylor cause with their outside shooting.

Baylor's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    vs. No. 20 West Virginia, 83-81 (OT)
    at No. 21 Kansas State, 75-73
    vs. No. 24 St. Mary's, 72-59
    at No. 30 BYU, 86-83
    No. 55 San Diego State, 77-67
    at No. 58 Northwestern, 69-41
    vs. No. 62 Mississippi State, 54-52
    No. 75 UT-Arlington, 75-65
    No. 108 Oklahoma State, 106-65
    No. 138 Texas A&M, 61-52
  • Losses
    at No. 2 Kansas, 74-92

Say this for Baylor: they've been tested. Their non-conference strength of schedule was rather weak (207th according to Pomeroy) because their weak opponents (Texas Southern, Jackson State, S.C. State, Prairie View A&M, etc.) were really weak, but they have faced nine Top 75 opponents and gone 8-1. (In comparison, Mizzou is just 5-1 against the Top 75. Still good, but not as high in the quantity department.)

Baylor Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Quincy Acy (6'7, 235, Sr.)
13.9
0.49
28.6 MPG, 12.4 PPG (58% 2PT, 75% FT), 6.8 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.7 TOPG
Perry Jones III (6'11, 235, So.)
13.4
0.43
31.2 MPG, 14.2 PPG (57% 2PT, 35% 3PT, 56% FT), 7.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 1.9 TOPG
Pierre Jackson (5'10, 180, Jr.)
12.5
0.46
27.1 MPG, 12.2 PPG (51% 2PT, 48% 3PT, 85% FT), 5.4 APG, 2.9 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 3.6 TOPG
Quincy Miller (6'9, 210, Fr.)
10.3
0.41
25.3 MPG, 12.0 PPG (50% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 77% FT), 5.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.1 TOPG
Brady Heslip (6'2, 180, So.)
8.9
0.34
26.1 MPG, 10.1 PPG (36% 2PT, 48% 3PT, 100% FT), 1.4 APG, 1.4 RPG
Cory Jefferson (6'9, 210, So.)
5.9
0.44
13.3 MPG, 5.0 PPG (60% 2PT, 62% FT), 3.4 RPG, 1.7 BPG
Anthony Jones (6'10, 195, Sr.)
5.6
0.33
17.2 MPG, 5.4 PPG (54% 2PT, 27% 3PT), 3.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG
A.J. Walton (6'1, 185, Jr.)
4.9
0.24
20.6 MPG, 4.3 PPG (42% 2PT, 22% 3PT), 3.7 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 2.2 TOPG
Deuce Bello (6'4, 185, Fr.)
3.3
0.28
11.7 MPG, 4.4 PPG (56% 2PT, 20% 3PT, 54% FT), 2.6 RPG, 1.1 TOPG
Gary Franklin (6'2, 195, So.)
2.0
0.16
12.8 MPG, 3.5 PPG (25% 2PT, 38% 3PT), 1.0 APG
Fred Ellis (6'6, 220, Sr.)
2.0
0.21
9.8 MPG, 2.1 PPG (14% 2PT, 38% 3PT), 1.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 TOPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Miller (25%), Jackson (24%), Jones (23%), Bello (23%)
  • Highest Floor%: Jefferson (45%), Acy (44%), Jones (43%), Jackson (43%)
  • Highest %Pass: Walton (74%), Jackson (69%), Ellis (69%), Franklin (60%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Jefferson (56%), Jones (53%), Jones (49%), Heslip (43%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Acy (27%), Jefferson (24%), Bello (20%), Miller (15%)
  • Highest %T/O: Bello (12%), Acy (10%), Ellis (10%), Jones (9%)
  • Seriously, I'm pretty sure Quincy Acy has been in Waco longer than Scott Drew has. He is the perfect glue guy for this team, scrapping on the boards, drawing a ton of fouls (something fellow big Perry Jones III doesn't do very well) and blocking the hell out of shots near the rim. He gives up four inches to Jones, but he plays bigger.
  • The most unique part of playing a team like Baylor is that some of their longer guys (Jones, Quincy Miller) almost have a guard's skill set. Miller has been a mini-Jones, shooting better from 3-point land, rebounding at a similar rate, and passing even better. Jones is a star, but his usage rate is not amazingly high; in fact, Miller's is higher.
  • Pierre Jackson and Boston College transfer Brady Heslip combine to attempt 9.5 3-pointers per game ... and they make 4.5 of them. Yikes. Jackson brings quite a bit to the table overall, however. Heslip's job is to basically stand on the 3-point line, while Jackson runs the show (despite coming off of the bench like Mike Dixon). He is tremendous in both the assist and steals categories, though he can get pretty careless with the ball sometimes.
  • Perhaps the single biggest reason this team is a legitimate Top 10 outfit is because of the depth of contributors. A.J. Walton softens you up with good defense and passing, then Jackson comes off the bench and makes Baylor even better. Heslip bombs in open 3's. Cory Jefferson comes off the bench and blocks almost as many shots as Acy. If you keep Jackson and Heslip cool from behind the line, Miller and Gary Franklin (combined: 25-for-65 from 3-point range) will make them instead. Meanwhile, five different players have offensive rebounding rates of at least nine percent (in comparison, Mizzou has two). To beat Baylor, everybody on your team has to play well. There is no "Stop ____," or "Keep ___ off the glass," or "Stick to ____ on the perimeter" prescription for success geared around stopping certain individuals.

Keys to the Game

  1. Road Things. And really, this is three keys in one. So you get five keys this time! By "Road Things," I mean a) offensive rebounds, b) fouls and c) Phil Pressey. If Mizzou acquits itself in these three categories, it can win any road game. If. If, if, if.

  2. Bombs Away. Baylor's offense ranks 14th on 3-point percentage (Mizzou's defense ranks 160th), while Mizzou's offense ranks 21st in the same category (Baylor's D: 128th). Both teams could get smoking hot from long range ... but if just one does, that team generates one heck of an advantage.

  3. Ratliffe Watch. In Mizzou's one loss this season, Ricardo Ratliffe was dreadful: two points, one rebound and four fouls in 14 minutes. He was simply swallowed whole by a long, athletic, intense Kansas State squad. Ratliffe probably doesn't need to meet his season averages (14 points, seven rebounds) for Mizzou to win -- even if he meets those criteria, Mizzou probably needs the above factors to come away with a 'W' -- but he has to bring something to the table. Then again ... he pulled down four offensive rebounds on the way to an 11 & 13 game last year against Baylor*. That might not be a bad place to start.

    * When reading this box score, just ignore that Laurence Bowers had 20 points and nine rebounds. :-(

Prediction

Ken Pomeroy's projections say this one comes down to the wire: Baylor 76, Missouri 73. The variance here is just so huge. If Mizzou is making their open 3's, they could certainly hang in all the way to the end. But it is difficult to ignore the fact that, in their three true road games, Mizzou has made just 31 percent of their 3-pointers. While acknowledging that Mizzou is more than talented enough to give Baylor a run, or beat them outright, I think the most likely outcome is something like Baylor 74, Missouri 62. Get 'em in Columbia.

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