Baylor Tries To Start Another Tourney Run vs Norfolk State
The Baylor Bears head into the NCAA Tournament as the defending champions and top seed in the East Region, and they’ll start their title defense with a Thursday contest against the 16th-seeded Norfolk State Spartans in their home state. Baylor was upset by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament but has won five of its last six. Norfolk State won the MEAC Tournament and is in the Big Dance for the second straight season and third time overall. Baylor is a heavy favorite in this one, but before you make your bet online, check out our preview of the game.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and March Madness odds for Norfolk State vs Baylor. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
Norfolk State Looks For Another Big Upset
The Norfolk State Spartans haven’t been in March Madness many times, but each time, they’ve come away with at least one victory. Last season, they topped Appalachian State in a First Four matchup before falling to No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the first round, and in 2012, the Spartans defeated No. 2-seeded Missouri in a first-round contest.
If the Spartans are going to get a win in this year’s tournament, they’ll need all hands on deck playing together against a tough Baylor defense. Guards Joe Bryant and Jalen Hawkins lead the way for Norfolk State, with Bryant earning MEAC Player of the Year honors for the regular season as well as the MEAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player award the last two years.
Bryant averages 16.8 points per game while also leading the Spartans with 3.3 assists per contest. He must be careful with the basketball against the opportunistic Bears, as he is turning the ball over three times a game. Hawkins chips in 13.4 points, while forward Kris Bankston is the team’s third double-digit scorer and leading rebounder with 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Baylor Back In Favorite Role For NCAAs
The Baylor Bears are back as a top seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, and coach Scott Drew feels like it’s the team’s third straight No. 1 seed since it would have earned that honor if the 2020 tournament hadn’t been canceled. The Bears have been here before – and successful in this position – and Drew feels like they’ll be again this season.
“If you take a step back and say, to be a No. 1 seed, this would be three years in a row, that’s pretty impressive,” Drew said about his squad. “That means guys have done a great job putting the program first. And now, it’s the best time of the year, and it’s time to put your best foot forward.”
The guard-oriented Bears are led by senior point guard James Akinjo, who is scoring 13.4 points per game while being the Big 12 leader in assists per game with 5.7. Akinjo is hoping to be joined in the backcourt by sophomore LJ Cryer, who has been dealing with a foot injury and has played in just one of the last 12 contests. Cryer, who averages 13.5 points, is considered day-to-day the rest of the season with the injury, though the NCAA Tournament may see him back on the floor.
Junior guard Adam Flagler has also missed time with injury this season, but he’s hoping to be at full strength for this contest. Flagler is averaging 13.4 points per game.
Norfolk State vs Baylor Head-to-Head
The Baylor Bears have faced the Norfolk State Spartans twice before on the basketball court, with Baylor coming away with easy victories in each one. Both games were played on the Bears’ home floor, with the most recent meeting coming in the 2014-15 season.
The margin of victory in each encounter has been at least 28 points, so the college basketball lines making the Bears a large favorite on Thursday come as a shock to no one.
Follow the Road to the Final Four
Learn more about the No. 1 seeds here:
Norfolk State vs Baylor Information
- Game: Norfolk State Spartans (24-6) vs. Baylor Bears (26-6)
- Location: Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas
- Day/Time: Thursday, 2:00 p.m. ET
- Live Stream: TBS.com
- 2022 March Madness Bracket
Norfolk State vs. Baylor Betting Lines
Norfolk State vs Baylor Prediction
The Baylor Bears know what it takes to win in the Big Dance, and they’ll be bringing all of the defensive intensity that made them one of the top scoring defenses in the Big 12. The Norfolk State Spartans have been playing well, but it will be a major step up in competition for this one.
Look for Baylor to put this one away early and cruise to the easy victory as Drew tries to rest some of his key players for the next round
When doing your college basketball betting, take Baylor to win and cover.
Pick: Baylor Bears -20½ (-110)
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