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NCAAB Predictions: No. 6 Baylor Bears

Baylor does have some holes to fill with four of the top six players from last season having moved on. Still, the Bears come in at No. 6 in BetUS’ ranking of the top 25 teams in the country.

Even with the departure of floor leader James Akinjo, Baylor has the making of a top-notch backcourt with the return of Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer. Another key returnee is Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who was the co-defensive player of the year in the conference during his injury-shortened 2021-22 season,

Jeremy Sochan #1 of the Baylor Bears prepares to shoot a free throw
Tom Pennington / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

When looking at the college basketball playoff odds, Baylor (+1500) is tied for ninth in the odds to win the national title.

Baylor is tied with Big 12 rival Kansas for fifth in the Associated Press poll and comes in sixth in the Coaches poll.

Baylor was picked to finish first in the Big 12 preseason poll as the Bears received five of the nine first-place votes from the other head coaches in the conference.

Let’s check the latest NCAAB picks, stats, injury reports, and NCAAB predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAB expert picks for you to consider.

Baylor Bears

  • 2021-22 record: 27-7
  • 2021-22 Big 12 Record: 14-4
  • Coach: Scott Drew
  • Odds to win national title: +1500

Returning Flagler and Cryer, who averaged 13.8 and 13.5 points per game a season ago gives the Bears two key players in the backcourt to build the offense around.

Flager saved his best for last with 27 points in a season-ending loss to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. He scored in double figures in 14 of the last 15 games of the season and had 12 games with at least three made 3-pointers.

The key for Cryer is to stay healthy as he combined to play in 39 out of 64 games during his first two seasons at Baylor. The Bears were 16-3 when Cryer played. He began the 2021-22 season by scoring at least 20 points in three of its first four games.

Tchamwa Tchatchoua is another key returning player who missed time a season ago. Baylor was 21-4 when he was in the lineup. He only hit the double-digit mark in field goals attempted twice and look for that number to improve this season.

Along with Akinjo, the Bears also lost Matthew Mayer, Jeremy Sochan, and Kendall Brown are all gone, leaving Baylor without four of its top six scorers from a season ago.

Flo Thamba and Dale Bonner could take on larger roles offensively after combining for 9.3 points a season ago. Thamba displayed some of his point-producing potential with 79 points in a span of seven games late in the 2021-22 season.

West Virginia forwards Jalen Bridges and BYU forward Caleb Lohner joins incoming freshmen Keyonte George and Joshua Ojianwuna among newcomers who could contribute immediately.

Bridges averaged 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 27 minutes per game as a sophomore at West Virginia. He had 15 points in the two games against Baylor so the Bears should have an idea of what he is capable of.

Lohner put up 7 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore at BYU. His shooting percentage numbers dropped from the field, from 3-point range, and from the foul line so he will look to rebound. The Texas native did have 37 points in three games in the postseason NIT. He also had a 17-point effort in a matchup with powerhouse Gonzaga.

Baylor Outlook

Things will look a little different with the departure of four key offensive players. Much could ride on how quickly the two transfers adapt to their new team and new system.

Don’t be surprised to see Flager and Cryer emerge as one of the top-scoring perimeter duos in the Big 12.

Baylor was 4-5 in games decided by seven points last season with the end coming in overtime against North Carolina so the Bears will look to finish games better this time around.

There will be some early tests with games against Virginia and either UCLA or Illinois in Las Vegas followed by a game at Marquette and a neutral-site game against Gonzaga.

Facing Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas in a span of a week in late January won’t be easy.

Something to consider for those who bet online: Baylor failed to cover in six of its last nine games.

2022-23 Baylor Schedule

  • Season opener: vs Mississippi Valley State, Nov. 7, 12 noon ET
  • Big 12 opener: vs Iowa State, Dec. 31, time TBA

Other Games to Watch

  • vs Virginia (at Las Vegas, Nev.), Nov. 18, 7 p.m. ET
  • vs UCLA/Illinois (at Las Vegas, Nev.), Nov. 20, time TBA
  • vs Marquette, Nov. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • vs Gonzaga (at Sioux Falls, S.D.), Dec. 2, 8 p.m. ET
  • vs Washington State (at Dallas), Dec. 18, 10 p.m. ET
  • vs Texas Christian, Jan. 4, 9 p.m. ET
  • vsTexas Tech, Jan. 19, 9 p.m. ET
  • vs Oklahoma, Jan. 21, 4 p.m. ET
  • vs Kansas, Jan. 23, 9 p.m. ET
  • vs Arkansas, Jan. 28, 4/6 p.m. ET
  • vsTexas, Jan. 30, 9 p.m. ET
  • vs Texas Tech, Feb. 4, 1 p.m. ET
  • vs Oklahoma, Feb. 8, 9 p.m. ET
  • vs Texas Christian, Feb. 11, 4 p.m. ET
  • vs Kansas, Feb. 18, 4 p.m. ET
  • vs Texas, Feb. 25, 2 p.m. ET

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