Baylor vs Santa Barbara March Madness Betting Preview

Bears Favored Double Digits Over Gauchos

Baylor vs Santa Barbara is one of two South Region games on Friday. Both games are played at Denver’s Ball Arena. The third-seeded Bears are solid 10.5-point favorites over No. 14 UCSB and Baylor is -600 on the moneyline. The Baylor vs UCSB total is 143. The game is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by TNT. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

BAY Baylor: Bears Can Knock Down the 3-Pointers

The Baylor Bears bring their high-powered offense to Denver to face the Gauchos. Baylor is all about offense, with an adjusted offensive efficiency rating that is No. 2 in the nation. The Bears hit 37.2% of their 3-point attempts and are No. 18 in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. The defense is better than average and the Bears play in the nation’s toughest conference, the Big 12.

The Bears have become fixtures in the NCAA Tournament, making it eight times in the last 10 years. Baylor won it all in 2021, so the Bears have shown an ability to rise up to the occasion.

How They Got Here

The Bears were upset in the first round of the Big 12 Conference tournament by Iowa State, who also beat Baylor in the regular NCAAB season finale. But there was never any doubt Baylor wasn’t going to make the tournament field. Any team that goes 11-7 in the Big 12 Conference deserves to be in the Big Dance.

The Big 12 Conference teams took turns beating up on each other and as a result the Bears were just 16-15-1 against the spread this season. Baylor did cover three of its last four games to get the ATS record above .500.

How Far Will They Go

The Bears have the talent to make some noise in the tournament. But their chances of winning March Madness don’t look too promising. The Bears are +2800 to win it all and the Bears won’t be satisfied with anything less, although an Elite Eight appearance is probably a bit more realistic.

UCSB Santa Barbara: The Gauchos Can Shoot the Ball

Santa Barbara is a decent offensive team, ranking No. 71 in adjusted offensive efficiency. The strength of the offense is the 2-pointer, as UCSB ranks No. 24 at 54.8% shooting. The Gauchos are pretty average on defense but haven’t seen an offense like Baylor all season.

Santa Barbara is making its seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament and second in the last three years. The Gauchos are 1-6 in the tournament but nearly beat No. 5 seed Creighton in 2021, losing 63-62.

How They Got Here

The Gauchos were 24-7 during the regular season but still needed to win the Big West Conference tournament to return to the NCAA Tournament. UCSB had to work for it, but did run off three wins to get the automatic invitation.

Santa Barbara was 20-10-2 against the spread this season, closing the season on a 6-1 ATS run. But this is a big step up in class for the Gauchos.

How Far Will They Go

For all practical purposes, the Gauchos should be a one-game team, as Baylor’s athleticism and offense should be too much for the Gauchos. UCSB is +450 to win this game and would be an underdog once again should it manage to pull the shocker.

Handicapping the Game

Baylor vs Santa Barbara is a game that features two deliberate teams. The Bears are No. 216 in adjusted tempo, while the Gauchos are No. 302. That could favor UCSB a little bit, cutting down on possessions. But the Bears make the most of their possessions and score almost as much from 3-point range (37.7% of points) as they do from 2-point range (41.6%).

The Gauchos did a decent job preventing offensive rebounds this season and that’s one of Baylor’s strengths. If UCSB can prevent Baylor from getting second chances, they’re more likely to hang around for a while.

Santa Barbara’s 2-point shooting should be the deciding factor in this game. UCSB could have some success against a Baylor team that ranked No. 314 in 2-point defense. But most of those games came against teams much tougher than the Gauchos.

The Baylor vs Santa Barbara spread of 10.5 could be on the high side, while the moneyline is pretty much where you would expect it to be.

The college basketball odds of 143 on the total is a bit on the low side. If Santa Barbara can score some from the inside, this one should go over the total and that’s the way to bet this one. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

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