In the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament, No.13 Baylor will face Florida in the title game. The tournament only features four teams, but it was pretty clear from the opening games that Baylor and Florida were the top teams, making this matchup interesting for NCAA picks today.
The Bears faced Oregon State in the tournament’s opening game, holding steady control throughout and eventually winning 88-72. The Gators faced Pittsburgh, which got off to a competitive first half before Florida pulled away to win 86-71.
Baylor Off to Hot Start
Heading into the season, Baylor was not one of the top teams in college basketball predictions but certainly had some hype around the program. That seemingly has been proven true, starting with a 5-0 record and a big opening win over Auburn.
Before beating Oregon State, a win over Auburn was the Bears’ only other marquee victory, but there is still a decent amount of support for the team in college basketball lines. Part of that has been Baylor’s balanced offense, headlined by star freshman Ja’Kobe Walter, who is averaging 19.2 points.
Another impressive performance today from Baylor Bears freshman Ja’Kobe Walter #NBADraft
Continues to look like an impressive two-way force with offensive upside and intriguing defensive potential.
Finished with 24 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST & 4 STL on 7/13 shooting (4/8 from 3, 6/6… pic.twitter.com/y11fSO0Mor
— Tyler Rucker (@tyler_rucker) November 23, 2023
In the win against Oregon State, Walter had a big game with 24 points, his second-highest total behind 28 points against Auburn. Despite being a freshman, it is clear that he is ready for the big games and will perform at a level that will help Baylor win.
However, Walter was far from the only standout in that last win. Yves Missi Has 14 points and 14 rebounds while Jalen Bridges scored 14. Both players are not averaging double figures on the season, but it could be performances pushing them in the right direction. Rayj Dennis also had a big assist game with six, continuing to ensure the Bears’ offense runs smoothly.
Florida Getting Big-Time Performances
Surprisingly, Florida has not had the easiest start to the season but is managing it well, going into this matchup against Baylor with a 4-1 record. That one loss came against Virginia in the second game, but the Gators have beaten Florida State and Pittsburgh in the last two. While Florida was favored in college basketball spreads in both games, the spread was set at less than 10 points and it still covered both times.
These two wins can change the Gators’ future college basketball odds. It was sparked by two big performances from Walter Clayton, who averages 17.2 points and has combined for 47 in those two recent wins. Against Florida State, Clayton had 19 points, leading the team and hitting three 3-pointers. Then, in the win over Pittsburgh, he completely went off from three, going 6 of 8 from behind the arc for a game-high 28 points.
Clayton was not the only one to have a good game in the win over Pittsburgh, with Tyrese Samuel scoring 20 points with 10 rebounds. Still, it was a complete team performance by the Gators, who ended up with 24 assists, keeping the ball moving to help the offense get the best shot, apparently ending up in Clayton’s hands.
Having played against at least a few semi-challenging opponents early in the season, Florida might have prepared to face Baylor. On top of that, with how Clayton is playing, he can make things very interesting against a ranked opponent.
Baylor vs Florida Best Bet
Right now, the highlight of this matchup could be watching Clayton and Walter going back and forth. Both have stepped up for their team in the biggest games of this early season.
Overall, this matchup still favors Baylor in NCAAB expert picks. The Bears have the better overall team, giving them the advantage over the Gators.
College Basketball Best Bet: Baylor -3 -110
Baylor vs Florida Betting Lines
Baylor vs Florida Game Information
- Game: Baylor (5-0) vs Florida (4-1)
- Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
- Day/Time: Friday, Nov. 24, 5:30 p.m. ET
- Baylor vs Florida Live Stream: TBS.com
Questions of the Day
How will Baylor’s backcourt depth affect the game against Florida?
Baylor has a very good backcourt, headlined by Ja’Kobe Walter, who should be in for another big game in this matchup with Florida.