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No. 22 Texas Tech looks to start strong in Big 12 play with win over No. 18 Baylor

It will be a match-up of ranked opponents to start Big 12 play.

NCAA Basketball: Florida Atlantic at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Here it is, the moment we as basketball fans have all been waiting for. The start of conference play. The No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders have an interesting foe in front of them in the No. 18 Baylor Bears. Both teams have cleaned the slate now Big 12 play is beginning. The hype could not be greater for this Texas Tech team at the moment, so let’s dive in and get a better look at the Baylor Bears.

The Baylor Bears are experienced and that is what makes them so scary. They have 3 seniors, a junior, and a freshman in their starting lineup. They are more diverse classification-wise than one might think when looking at them because they are a very disciplined team. Baylor hasn’t been hitting on all cylinders recently because 6th-man Terry Matson has been out with a broken hand in recent weeks and that has caused before seldom-used sophmore Tyson Jolly to step in and take some of his minutes.

The Bears, of course, are led by senior guard Manu Lecomte, averaging 18 points per game while also being the heart and soul of this team. This will be one of the best guard match-ups in the Big 12 as Keenan Evans and Manu Lecomte will dual it out Friday night. I will definitely be a fun one to watch. The Bears also have a legitimate 7-footer in Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.. This 7-0 senior is averaging a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. Norense Odiase will have his hands full and will need to control Lual in order to give the Red Raiders a great chance to win.

As you can see from the graphic above (shout-out to Ryan for the sweet graph), these teams are not so different statistically. They do differ in style of play and how many players they put on the court. The Baylor Bears have a 7-8 man rotation depending on the night and their starters play boatloads of minutes. As of know, all of their starters average over 25 minutes per game. Against a team like Kansas that only plays with 7-8 players this would not be that big of an issue, but against a team like Texas Tech, it could spell trouble for the Bears.

The Red Raiders have huge amounts of depth, with 10 players playing more than 13 minutes per game. The reason the Red Raiders are hard to beat is because Coach Beard trusts all 10 of those players at any given moment depending on the circumstance. In the game against Rice, Beard had 5 guards on the floor for an extended period of time. We’ve seen times in games where the Red Raiders have gone with 2 point guards and 3 big men. The point is the Red Raiders can beat you in a number of ways and with their depth, you can’t possibly prepare for all of the sets and types of play they throw at you.

I’ve said it before, it’s gonna be a dual between two of the best guards in the Big 12. Both of these teams are ready to win a Big 12 title right now and the winner of this game will help either team get a good step and some good momentum flowing their way as it will be a good game in Lubbock on Friday night. It will be a tight one throughout, but I think the depth of the Red Raiders will allow them to defeat this Baylor Bears team in the final minutes of the game. Prediction: Texas Tech: 70 Baylor 65.