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NCAAB: West Virginia vs. Baylor odds, preview, and pick

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February 24th, 2021

The No. 2 Baylor Bears finally returned to the court on Tuesday, and it would be an understatement to say they looked rusty. After missing five straight games, the Bears took on the hapless Iowa State Cyclones, and barely squeaked out a victory at home.

They now have a quick turnaround to take on the No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers in a Thursday afternoon treat.

Baylor looked disjointed on offense against Iowa State

Baylor has averaged 18.2 assists per game this season, but on Tuesday night they showed that their time off disrupted team chemistry and trust on offense. They played quality defense against the Cyclones, but relied far too heavily on isolation to score points.

Adam Flagler excelled with 22 points off the bench, but the team as a whole tallied only 10 assists against a team that has been beaten up by the rest of the conference all year. As the fourth most efficient offense in the country, it will be interesting to see if one game was enough to knock the rust off, or if their prolonged layoff will contribute to more struggles.

West Virginia has flipped the script in 2021

For years under Bob Huggins, the West Virginia Mountaineers have been known as a great defensive team that struggles offensively in stretches. This season, that script has been turned around with the Mountaineers recording a top-10 offense and over 77 points per game.

They are led by guard Miles McBride, but are also getting a big boost from dominant forward Derek Culver, who is averaging 15.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. The Mountaineers have yet to play a defense this year as talented and consistent as Baylor's, however, and could be hard-pressed to score points. Baylor only allows opposing teams to shoot 39.3% at their home gym in Waco.

Baylor will bounce back in a big way on Thursday

Baylor is, without a doubt, one of the two best teams in the country this year, and is on a mission to complete an undefeated season despite all the pauses and stops they’ve been forced to deal with. There was a perfectly reasonable expectation they would show some weakness in their first game back, but this is a roster that has tremendous talent and shoots the ball superbly from three-point range. The Mountaineers give up 23.2 points per game from three when playing on the road, and their subpar defense will surrender too many to keep them in this game.

Score prediction: Baylor 80, West Virginia 70

NCAAB pick: Baylor