LJ Cryer

Baylor Bears guard LJ Cryer (4) prepares to shoot a three-pointer in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Emil Lippe)

  • The #2-ranked Baylor Bears are 5.5-point home favorites over the #6 Villanova Wildcats in an NCAA men’s basketball game scheduled for Sunday, December 12
  • Both of Villanova’s losses this season came when facing ranked teams
  • The reigning national champion Bears are unbeaten (8-0) on the season

All that stands between the Baylor Bears and the #1 ranking in the nation is a victory on Sunday at home over the #6 Villanova Wildcats.

Upset 70-68 by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Thursday, the Purdue Boilermakers will be surrendering the #1 slot when the new rankings are released next week. At 8-0, #2-ranked Baylor will cement their claim to the top spot in the nation by beating the 7-2 Wildcats.

Oddsmakers are liking the chances of that development coming to fruition. They’re established the defending national champion Bears as the 5.5-point chalk. Baylor is 4-1 against the spread as a home favorite this season.

#6 Villanova vs #2 Baylor Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Villanova Wildcats +180 +5.5 (-110) O 138.5 (-110)
Baylor Bears -222 -5.5 (-110) U 138.5 (-110)

Odds as of December 11th at BetMGM.

Tipoff for Sunday’s game at the Ferrell Center is 3pm ET. ABC is carrying the broadcast.


Baylor Bears Betting Trends

This is Baylor’s first home non-conference matchup of top-6 ranked teams in program history. Baylor has won 32 straight non-conference games and 18 straight home games, setting a new Ferrell Center record for longest winning streak.

Baylor is 30-1 straight up at home over the last 2+ seasons, with the lone loss by three pint to Kansas on February 22, 2020. The Bears are 17-3 SU against ranked teams since beating No. 17 Villanova to win the 2019 Myrtle Beach Invite.  Baylor has won seven straight games SU against top-10 ranked teams.

The Bears are the only team the nation’s ranked among the top-25 in scoring offense (15th, 84.0) and scoring defense (9th, 56.4). They rank in the top-10 nationally in scoring margin (2nd, +27.6), steals (4th, 11.5), turnover margin (5th, +7.8), turnovers forced (5th, 20.1), assists (6th, 18.9) and offensive rebounds (6th, 15.5).  Baylor is the nation’s only team with 8+ steals in every game this season.

Sophomore guard LJ Cryer leads the Bears in scoring (15.4 points per game). Junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua is their top rebounder (8.3 boards per game). Senior guard James Akinjo leads Baylor in assists (6.1) and steals (2.25) per game.

Villanova Wildcats Betting Trends

The Wildcats have won four in a row since losing to #1 Purdue. They also were beaten by #4 UCLA.

Villanova are big shooters from long range. The Wildcats are 37th in the NCAA in 3-point field goal attempts (273) and tied for 16th in the country in 3-point field goals made (107). They’re sixth in the nation in 3-point field goals made per game (11.9). and 20th in 3-point field goal percentage (39.19).

The Wildcats have held six of its nine opponents below the 60-point threshold, including five of the last six. Villanova is 5-0 this season when holding foes below 60 points in a game. This is Nova’s first game at Baylor. However, the Wildcats have won five straight games played in the state of Teexas.

Graduate student guard Collin Gillespie is the only Wildcat to have scored in double figures through all nine games this season. His 17.3 points per game average leads Villanova, as do his 3.7 assists per game.


Wildcats vs Bears Prediction

Possession of the ball is huge in any game but in this instance, the battle for possession could prove paramount during the struggle. Baylor ranks #2 in the nation at forcing turnovers. The Bears cause the opposition to turn the ball over an average of 19 times per game. Villanova, though, is #6 in the NCAA at fewest turnovers committed per game. The Wildcats are coughing the ball up on only 12% of their possessions.

This game is part of the Big East/Big 12 battle. Baylor is 12-1 in this competition under head coach Scott Drew. Certainly, this is an intriguing matchup. Baylor ended Villanova’s season in the Sweet 16 en route to the NCAA title. Villanova’s only losses this season are to nationally-ranked teams. Baylor is facing a ranked team for the first time this season.

These schools have combined to win three of the past five NCAA titles – Villanova in 2016 and 2018 and Baylor last season. In a tight struggle, expect home court to be the advantage that puts the Bears over the top.

Pick: Baylor Bears -5.5 (-110).

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Robert Duff

Sports Writer


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