NCAAB Parlay for Friday’s Slate at (+271): Baylor Too Strong Offensively for Virginia

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Adam Flagler #10 of the Baylor Bears shoots the ball for a layup against the Norfolk State Spartans. Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP.

Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAB odds for today’s college basketball action. One game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in: Baylor vs. Virginia.

After canceling its last game in wake of the tragedy that took place on its campus, Virginia is playing for the first time since November 11. The Cavaliers are 2-0, although their first two opponents are not comparable in terms of quality to Baylor.

Fifth-ranked Baylor remains undefeated at 3-0 and will likewise receive its toughest test of the season in the form of 16th-ranked Virginia.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play both spread and total for this game. Feel free to parlay both bets at one of our best sportsbooks in order to maximize your profit.

Note that this game takes place in Las Vegas as part of the Continental Tire Main Event.

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Baylor Bears vs. Virginia Cavaliers

Friday, November 18, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at T-Mobile Arena

Virginia's Defensive Decline

Defense is what Virginia under Tony Bennett has primarily been known for, but the quality of its defense has declined steadily in most recent seasons.

In 2021, Virginia ranked 36th nationally in defensive efficiency. Last year, the Cavaliers regressed to 59th in the category.

Moreover, they ranked a disturbing ninth in the ACC in defensive efficiency, doubtlessly explaining their failure to land a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

This Year's Virginia Defense

Last year, the starting rotation for Virginia ended up consisting of guards Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman, forwards Armaan Franklin and Jayden Gardner, and center Francisco Caffaro.

Of course, the similarity of Virginia's success level on defense will hinge partly on whether its starting lineup remains the same this year. All of those players are still on the team, although some of their levels of responsibility have changed.

The New Faces

Newcomer shooting guard Isaac McKneely is, despite Tony Bennett's usual disinclination to offer freshmen much shooting time, getting plenty of playing time, although special circumstances that I will explain speak in his favor.

Kadin Shedrick is starting at center rather than Caffaro, which is unsurprising given Virginia's inclination to have him start last season. Shedrick is arguably the more talented player.

Finally, transfer from Ohio Ben Vander Plas has been sharing playing time at the four largely with Gardner.

Individual Defensive Assessments

There's hope that Franklin and Gardner improve defensively because Tony Bennett's pack-line defense famously comes with a significant learning curve, and both players had transferred to Virginia last year from different programs. But unfortunately, the same problem replicates itself with the addition of Vander Plas, the new transfer from Ohio.

Communication errors and general slowness to react are characteristic of newcomers struggling to learn Tony Bennett's system.

While a special exception exists for McKneely, who, despite being new to the team, is a bit ahead of speed because his high school employed the pack line defense. This exception does not exist for Virginia's other talented freshmen looking to contribute to an otherwise less talented roster.

Shedrick is, like Caffaro, a solid rim protector who ably blocks and deters shot attempts in front of the basket. Both players, though, struggle to defend without fouling.

Early Worries

Hopes for individual defenders notwithstanding, Virginia's defense has looked worrisome. It might not appear this way because the team ranks a solid-looking tenth nationally in defensive efficiency, but its opponents so far were NC Central and Monmouth, two very low-profile teams.

The NC Central game was particularly troublesome because NC Central scored 61 points and, for large parts of the game, appeared capable of achieving the upset.

In that game, breakdowns in communication, apparent ball-watching or sleeping, and other sorts of defensive lapses characterized Virginia's defense for large stretches of this game. One cannot shrug off these lapses as constitutive features of a season-opening adjustment phase, because they also surfaced last year.

Last year, teams like NC State looked high-powered against the Cavaliers' defense, whose on-ball defenders struggled to contain opponents' combination of dribble penetration while the defense failed to sufficiently challenge outside jump shooters.

Baylor's Offensive Focus

Can Baylor challenge Virginia with its mixture of dribble penetration and outside jump shooting? The Bears are certainly built to do so.

They do not rely on centers who should need to succeed against Virginia's well-sized and stout rim-protecting, shot-blocking centers down low.

Instead, the Bears rely primarily on guards Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer alongside versatile scoring forwards Keyonte George and Jalen Bridges.

Baylor's Three-Point Shooting

Baylor is intent on launching three-pointers, it has attempted the seventh-highest rate of threes in the nation so far. Flagler, Cryer, George, and Bridges are all highly capable in this aspect.

With his quick release and ability to score off the dribble, Flagler is leading the way with 57.9% three-point shooting. Cryer is coming off a strong three-point showing in line with his 41.8% career three-point shooting.

Both George and Bridges are multi-level scorers who ably score unassisted at the rim in addition to posing threats behind the arc.

The Importance of Shooting Well

Three-point shooting characteristically forms a critical means of attacking the Cavaliers' defense, whose pack-line concept is designed to induce its opponent to attempt contested threes, but many threes from Cavaliers' opponents continue to be uncontested and in rhythm.

Obviously more so than NC Central, Baylor possesses tremendous talent and, likewise more so than many of Virginia's ACC opponents last year, has the robust scoring personnel to hurt the Cavaliers' declined defense.

What Virginia's Offense Adds

While Virginia will obviously have at least one natural point guard on the court in Beekman or Clark, the addition of McKneely will often prevent them from being two excellent facilitators on the court at once.

McKneely, though, is an excellent shooter who excels at finding and taking advantage of open room, he is 5-for-10 from deep so far. While Gardner is still seeking his stroke and general offensive rhythm, Vander Plas has proven to be a nice add given his efficient three-point shooting.

Virginia has had one of the nation's most efficient and volume-heavy three-point attacks so far. When Norfolk State achieved 70 points against Baylor, it did so primarily via three-point shooting, and Virginia is built to do the same.

NCAAB Parlay Verdict

Virginia lacks the firepower to keep pace with Baylor's variety and magnitude of inside-and-outside scoring talent.

With your NCAAB picks in mind, expect a higher-scoring game in which the Bears triumph. Be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for your parlay betting needs.

NCAAB Parlay Picks

  • Baylor -4.5 (-108)
  • Over 132.5 (-108)

NCAAB Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+271) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Two-Legged Parlay (+271)
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