The Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-11, 9-7 Big 12) travel to Waco, Texas for a Big 12 showdown with the Baylor Bears (25-3, 14-2 Big 12) on Monday night. It’s the most compelling matchup on the Monday card by far, as Duke is the only other Top 25 team in action this evening. And the Red Raiders are in serious jeopardy of dropping out of the rankings themselves.
From Final Four to Faltering Down the Stretch
Few pundits expected Texas Tech to repeat the success of last season’s run to the National Championship game, especially after losing Jarrett Culver to the NBA. But a February run that saw them win 5 of 6 had Chris Beard’s team clicking when it counted. However, they’ve dropped their last two games, both to unranked opponents, and now face the toughest 2-game slate to close out the regular season in the country. The Red Raiders suffered double-digit losses to Oklahoma and Texas last week and now go up against Baylor and Kansas before the Big 12 Tournament begins next week.
The Red Raiders have lost at least two games in a row on four different occasions this year and are hoping to avoid a second three-game skid on the campaign. They snapped their first three-game slide back in December with a resume-defining win over then No. 1 Louisville back on December 10.
Baylor had a five-week run as the top team in the land before Kansas exacted revenge in perhaps the most anticipated game of the year on February 22. The Bears bounced back from that loss with a blowout win over Kansas State but faltered again this past Saturday in an upset loss to TCU. Further proof that this year’s bracket will be one of the toughest to fill out in recent memory. Baylor’s final two regular-season games won’t be as tough as tonight’s opponent’s, but closing their slate against TTU and at West Virginia isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.
One of the more noteworthy takeaways from this season will certainly be Baylor’s 23-game winning streak that spanned more than three months. And during that time, the Bears took down Texas Tech in Lubbock by five, despite the Red Raiders closing as a 3.5–point favorite. So the underdog has covered 7 of the last 10 meetings between these two. The teams never came close to the 131 total as only 109 points were tallied.
Again, this will mark just the third time that Baylor is playing off of a loss this season. In the two previous instances, Freddie Gillespie and company have responded well, winning by 9 and 19, respectively. However, neither of those opponents were of the caliber of Texas Tech, so this is relatively uncharted territory for Scott Drew’s squad.
Free Betting Pick
Baylor has won three out of the last four meetings in this series, installed in each of those as a small underdog. They’ll be looking for their fourth straight win at home against the Red Raiders, who has won just once in their last nine trips to Waco.
Baylor should win the game, but history is on the side of the dog here so I’m going to take the points with Texas Tech. A small lean to the under as well.