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Baylor, Iowa clash

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IOWA HAWKEYES (25-12) vs. BAYLOR BEARS (22-14)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Iowa -2.5 & 142
 
The NIT concludes Thursday night at Madison Square Garden when Iowa and Baylor clash in what should be a very entertaining basketball game.
 
The Hawkeyes are 10-0 ATS (8-2 SU) in their past 10 games, and have beaten all four NIT opponents by double-figures. Despite shooting a paltry 42.1% FG, they were still able to put away Maryland 71-60 in Tuesday's semifinal win. The Bears have been winning in this tournament with an explosive offense that has scored 89.0 PPG on 52.1% FG, but they made just 43% of their shots in Tuesday's 76-70 win over BYU. Iowa is 4-2 SU (5-1 ATS) on a neutral court this season, while Baylor is 3-2 (SU and ATS) on a neutral court.


 
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Iowa is not a strong offensive team, averaging just 70.4 PPG (100th in nation) on 42.2% FG (230th in D-I) and 30.9% threes. But this team never takes a possession off defensively, holding teams to 62.5 PPG on 38.9% FG (18th in nation) and 29.5% threes (15th in D-I). This is also a very intelligent team, sporting a 1.21 Ast/TO, while posting 4.9 blocks per game and a +4.8 RPG margin. This is a very deep squad, with 10 players logging more than 11 MPG during the NIT. Junior swingman Roy Devyn Marble (15.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 APG) has been phenomenal in this tournament, scoring at least 21 points in all four NIT games, averaging 24.3 PPG on 49.2% FG and 26-of-32 FT (81%). Marble has also dished out 19 assists with just seven turnovers in the four victories.

Sophomore PF Aaron White (12.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG) has also had a strong NIT with 10.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG in the four wins. He's shot poorly from the floor though, making just 9-of-27 shots and 1-of-9 threes, while committing a team-high 10 turnovers. Junior SF Zach McCabe (5.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG) has 8.3 PPG on 50% FG and 7-of-12 threes in the NIT, while senior swingman Eric May (5.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG) has 7.3 PPG on 5-of-7 threes during the NIT, racking up five steals and dishing out 11 assists with zero turnovers.


 
Baylor shoots a high percentage (45.0% FG) thanks to an unselfish offense averaging 15.0 APG (33rd in D-I). However, the Bears aren't a great three-point shooting team (35.5%), and they really struggle from the foul line, making just 68.9% FT. Baylor is not a particularly strong defensive team either, giving up 66.7 PPG and producing just 6.5 steals per game. Senior PG Pierre Jackson (19.9 PPG) is one of the most dynamic college players in the country with 7.0 APG, a 2.06 Ast/TO ratio and a strong 1.5 SPG. He also shoots 80% from the foul line despite playing so many minutes for this team (34.7 MPG). After receiving just 20 minutes of action in the blowout of Long Beach State, Jackson has been remarkable in the past three games, averaging 23.3 PPG (33-of-38 FT), 13.0 APG, 5.0 RPG and 2.0 SPG. He also has 39 assists and just 10 turnovers in the past three contests. Junior PF Cory Jefferson (13.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG) has sizzled in the NIT, scoring 20.8 PPG on 72% FG with 5.8 RPG. Despite picking up four fouls, Jefferson still scored 21 points on 8-of-11 FG in Tuesday's win over BYU.

Freshman C Isaiah Austin (13.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG) started off the NIT with identical games of 13 points and six rebounds, but after a mere five points on 1-of-7 shooting in the quarterfinals, he cranked out 14 points and 10 boards in Tuesday's semifinal win. SG Brady Heslip (8.7 PPG) started the tourney with 16.0 PPG (56% threes), but he failed to score at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, going 0-for-5 from the floor and 0-for-4 from behind the arc. However, SG A.J. Walton (7.1 PPG, 3.5 APG) ended his scoring slump over the first three NIT games (3.0 PPG on 4-of-13 FG) to produce 10 points on 4-of-8 FG in Tuesday's win.

  
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