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Mar 16, 2022

Norfolk State Spartans vs. Baylor Bears Picks, Predictions, Odds

The MEAC Champion Norfolk State Spartans drew the No. 1 seeded Baylor Bears, out of the Big 12 in Thursday’s opener in the NCAA Tournament’s East Region. Game time from Dickies Arena in Forth Worth is set for 2 p.m. (ET) on TBS.

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Score Prediction

Baylor 84, Norfolk State 65

Best Bet

Norfolk State +21 (-110)

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NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS vs. BAYLOR BEARS PREDICTIONS

Norfolk State comes into the first David vs. Goliath showdown in this year’s Big Dance as a heavy 21-point underdog. The Spartans earned their bid by winning the MEAC Tournament as part of their current straight-up six-game winning streak. Three of those victories were by double-digits to build some more momentum for Thursday’s matchup.

Baylor did not need to win the Big 12 Tournament to lockdown a No. 1 seed. However, that still does not excuse the five-point loss to Oklahoma in the conference tournament as a 7.5-point favorite. Looking past a conference rival in a game you are supposed to win sets the stage for looking past a No. 16 seed in the opening round of this tournament.

There is not going to be any historic upset on Thursday afternoon with Baylor playing in the friendly confines of Dickies Arena in its home state of Texas. However, getting 21 points on a team as hungry as Norfolk State is a very tempting number. This game should be out of reach by halftime but I still have the Spartans keeping Baylor’s winning margin of victory fewer than the current spread.

NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS vs. BAYLOR BEARS BETTING ODDS

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NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS vs. BAYLOR BEARS BETTING RESOURCES

  • Date: Thursday, March 17, 2022
  • Matchup: No. 16 vs. No. 1
  • Region: East
  • Venue: Dickies Arena
  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • TV-Time: TBS - 2:00 p.m. ET

NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS BETTING ANALYSIS

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 24-6
  • ATS: 17-9-1
  • O/U: 11-16

The Spartans have been able to cover in four of their last five games. The total has stayed UNDER in five of their last six games behind some strong defensive play. Baylor is not Delaware State, but Norfolk State has not allowed more than 66 points during the team’s current six-game winning streak.

At 24-6 SU overall, the Spartans posted a 17-9-1 record against the spread. They went 4-2 ATS in six games closing as underdogs and 5-1 ATS in six games played at a neutral site. The total stayed UNDER in 15 of 26 games with a posted betting line.

Norfolk State goes four deep with players averaging at least 10 points per game. Guard Joe Bryant tops that list with 16.8 points while also leading in assists (3.3) and steals (1.4). Guard Jalen Hawkins is next on the list in points (13.4) and he is shooting 46.1% from the field and 35.8% from outside the three-point line.

The Spartans have been able to average 75.1 PPG while shooting 46.6% from the field and 34.8% from three-point range. They are pulling down 38.8 rebounds a game and holding opposing teams to an average of 63.7 PPG on defense.

BAYLOR BEARS BETTING ANALYSIS

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 26-6
  • ATS: 16-15-1
  • O/U: 18-14

Baylor begins its defense of last year’s run to a national championship with an overall SU record of 26-6. The Bears tied Kansas for the best record in Big 12 regular season play at 14-4 but lost the title on a tiebreaker. They were less impressive as a betting team down the stretch with a 2-5 record ATS in their final seven games. The total went OVER in three of their last four outings.

One of the best teams in the nation on the court this season remains hit or miss as a betting team with an even 17-17 record ATS. The Bears were favored in 33 of 34 contests after closing as 1.5-point underdogs in a mid-February loss to Texas Tech. They went 1-2-1 ATS in four games played at a neutral site.

Baylor does have some injury concerns for Thursday with guard LJ Cryer still listed on the latest report as questionable with a bad foot. Guard Kendall Brown has been upgraded to probable with a lower body ailment. Scoring still runs deep on this team even if Cryer (13.5 points) cannot go. A total of seven players have been able to average at least eight points a game.

Overall, the Bears are putting up an average of 76.5 points while pulling down 37.1 rebounds a game. They are shooting 46.4% from the field and 34.6% from three-point range. One weak spot is a 69.8 shooting percentage from the foul line. Baylor is allowing an average of 63.6 PPG on defense.

Baylor has won 10 straight games when playing on a neutral court during the daytime. (AP)

INSIDE THE STATS - NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS

  • Record: 24-6
  • PS/G: 75.1 (72nd)
  • PA/G: 63.7 (36th)

INSIDE THE STATS - BAYLOR BEARS

  • Record: 26-6
  • PS/G: 76.5 (46th)
  • PA/G: 63.6 (34th)

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • NORF: Joe Bryant - G (16.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
  • NORF: Jalen Hawkins - G (13.4 ppg)
  • BAY: James Akinjo - G (13.4 ppg, 5.7 apg)
  • BAY: Adam Flagler - G (13.4 ppg)

NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS vs. BAYLOR BEARS BETTING CONCLUSION

Baylor could easily win this game by more than 21 points if it played to its top form over 40 full minutes. I see the Bears calling off the dogs in the second half to rest any player who might be a bit nicked up right now. That strategy opens the door for Norfolk State to cover.

MARCH MADNESS PICK RESOURCES

NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS vs. BAYLOR BEARS BETTING TRENDS

  • Baylor has won six of its last eight NCAA Tournament opening round games.
  • Baylor has failed to cover the spread in five of its last seven games.
  • Baylor has gone OVER the point total in three of its last four games.
  • Norfolk State has won two straight NCAA Tournament opening round games. 
  • Norfolk State has covered the spread in five of its last six games when playing on a neutral court.
  • Norfolk State has won 15 of its last 17 games.
  • Norfolk State has gone UNDER the point total in five of its last six games.
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