1. WVU faces another big frontline in the Baylor Bears. Cory Jefferson, Rico Gathers, and Isaiah Austin are 5th, 11th, and 13th in the Big 12 in rebounds per game. For comparative purposes, WVU's only big man in the conference rebounding standings is Devin Williams, currently 17th. Baylor is second behind Texas in rebounding at 39 per game. WVU finds itself eighth in the conference at 33 rebounds per game (rpg). Baylor allows 33 rpg, while WVU allows 37. Baylor out-rebounded the Mountaineers 37-27 in their last meeting.
2. Baylor is a defensive oriented team. They have allowed 72 points per game (ppg) in conference play. However, during their current three game winning streak, the Bears have allowed only 65 ppg. Remember, WVU only scored 66 to defeat Baylor in their last meeting. Similar to Texas, Baylor's bigs also block shots. Baylor averages over five blocks per game, led by Isaiah Austin (three per game) and Cory Jefferson (one per game).
3. There will be lots of shots attempted from behind the arc in this one. Baylor loves to shoot the long ball even more than the Mountaineers. Baylor averages 22 attempts per game and has made 110 three point shots (compared to WVU's 21 attempts per game and 102 made shots). Baylor and WVU lead the Big 12 in three point field goal percentage at 38% and 37%, respectively. Baylor's Brady Heslip leads the league with 45 three point field goals made. Heslip is second in three point field goal percentage, shooting 45%. For comparative purposes, Terry Henderson is sixth (42%), Eron Harris is tenth (39%) and Remi Dibo (38%) has moved into eleventh place in this category. These two teams combined for 43 three point shot attempts in their last meeting. Expect more this time around. WVU must get going early while also limiting Heslip's opportunities.
4. Baylor really struggles in the turnover department. Scott Drew's Bears are one of the most undisciplined teams in the Big 12, turning the ball over more than 13 times a game. Baylor is last in conference play in turnover margin, at -2.2 per game. WVU, on the other hand, leads the league in turnover margin at +3.4. The Mountaineers have forced more turnovers in conference play than any other team (174 for a 13.4 per game average). In their last meeting, WVU forced Baylor into 17 turnovers while limiting their own to six. The Mountaineers will need a similar performance on Saturday to beat Baylor again.
5. Finally, free throw shooting should favor WVU in this game. The Mountaineers are tied for third in the Big 12 in free throw attempts and are second in free throw percentage (at 74.5%). Baylor, on the other hand, is ninth in free throws attempted and last in free throw percentage at 64.3%. The Bears best shooters from the charity stripe are Kenny Chery and Taurean Prince at 72%. Baylor has made 67% of its free throws during its current three game winning streak.
This game is huge for both teams' chances to make the NCAA tournament. Saturday's game is the definition of "must win." Hopefully, WVU fans fill the Coliseum to make the difference in this one.
Prediction: WVU 71 Baylor 69