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St. Mary’s- Baylor Picks – Baylor Will End St. Mary’s Improbable Run

Posted by on 3/22/2010 3:55:43 PM
NCAA Basketball Odds: Baylor

This year’s NCAA national title tournament began in the midst of calls to expand the bracket to 128 teams rather than the current format of 64 teams in an effort to increase the excitement of college basketball betting and March Madness. Those discussions have been replaced by arguments concerning where this year’s edition of college basketball’s annual tourney ranks on the list of the most exciting in history. Shocking upsets and underdog stories have made this bracket both thrilling for casual fans and unpredictable for betting enthusiasts, and one of those underdog teams will look to continue its run to the Elite Eight when play resumes later this week.

St. Mary’s vs Baylor betting odds: Baylor
  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Friday March 26th – 7:25 PM ET
  • Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
  • Key Stat: Baylor is 15-3 as a favorite this year

The tenth-seeded Gaels have adopted the role of the “Cinderella” team in the South region bracket of the March Madness tournament, upsetting seventh-seed Richmond 80-71, before stunning the second-seeded Villanova 75-68 for a spot in the Sweet 16. Saint Mary’s has put together a run of seven consecutive wins, including a monster 81-62 win over Gonzaga for its first WCC title tournament championship since 1997, after falling to the Bulldogs in both meeting earlier in the season. Led by center Omar Samhan’s play down low the Gaels are suddenly looking like a team that can make it to Indianapolis.

The third-seeded Bears will attempt to avoid being the latest favorites to fall victim to Saint Mary’s improbable run. Baylor dropped Sam Houston State 68-59 before eliminating another potential “Cinderella” story team in Old Dominion 76-68 after the Monarchs upset Notre Dame in the opening round. Guard LaceDarius Dunn led the team with 26 points in Baylor’s latest win, with three other players complimenting the star junior by reaching double digit point totals. Tweety Carter was one of those three with 12 points, and also contributed a game-high eight assists in the second game of the 2010 March Madness bracket

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Offensive Matchups

Neither Richmond nor Villanova could provide an answer to the inside force that is Gaels’ center Omar Samhan, who most recently dominated the Wildcats with a 32-point effort. Samhan was 13 for 16 from the field and hit six of his eight free throws to pace Saint Mary’s to its second consecutive win over a higher seeded team, and seems to be growing stronger every game as he continues to become more confident and more experienced on the big stage. The backcourt tandem of guards Matthew Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell have served as the perfect compliment to their 6’11 center, combining for 29 points and five assists in the win over Villanova. The Gaels shot 50-percent from the field, and 37-percent from beyond the arc in their second round win. Still, Samhan is the key to making this offense go.

Although he has not come close to matching the stats of Samhan, Baylor center Josh Lomers has been just as much a part of his team’s recent success with their March Madness picks. Lomers tied a career-high points total with 14 against the Monarchs, including 12 in the second half to help secure a spot in the Sweet 16. Leading scorer LaceDarius Dunn had another big outing, finishing with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, and nailed four out of five free throws. Tweety Carter had a game-high eight of the team’s 15 assists, and shot 5-of-11 from the field for 12 points.

Despite having a solid well-rounded offensive game plan, Baylor has no answer for the production of Samhan.

Betting Edge: Saint Mary’s

Defensive Matchups

Although the Gaels have been underdogs in both of their first two wins to start the March Madness tournament, they have done so with less than stellar defensive jobs. Saint Mary’s has relied on its offense while allowing totals of 71 and 68 in its victories, and were actually forced in to four more turnovers than Villanova in their second round match up. Samhan had two of the team’s three blocks, and the Gaels managed to register just two steals.

Baylor has provided a more, well rounded defensive effort in its two tournament wins, limiting opponents to an average of 63.5 points per game. The Bears forced Old Dominion in to turning the ball over 14 times, including eight steals, and Lomers provided three of the Bears’ six blocks down low. Lomers also had four of the eight steals, and had a game-high eight rebounds, and will be the key to Baylor slowing down Samhan, and in extension slowing down Saint Mary’s attack.

Betting Edge: Baylor

Injuries

Neither team has any significant injuries heading in to Friday’s that will affect sports betting.

Betting Predictions: Saint Mary’s vs Baylor

Saint Mary’s has looked dominant at times early on this tournament, and the potential is there for an upset in this contest, although it is unlikely. The Gaels have yet to face an opponent as talented on defense as the Bears have been in their first two NCAA title tournament games, and could struggle with their confidence if they are slowed on offense early. Omar Samhan has yet to face a center that can even slow him, never mind completely shut him down, and Josh Lomers could be the one who stops Samhan’s free reign. The Samhan-Lomers match up will be the key to this contest, and if Lomers can do enough to slow the 6’11 senior, then Baylor will be able to key in defensively against McConnell and Dellavedova. If the favorites can break this game down to a battle between McConnell and Dellavedova against LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, the Bears should be a lock to punch their ticket in to the Elite Eight. Villanova’s fall should serve as a warning however, the Gaels are a legitimate contender and must not be taken lightly.

Washington’s Pick: Baylor

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