Baylor vs. Iowa State Prediction: Who Wins the Battle of Unbeatens?

Baylor vs. Iowa State prediction and pick for Saturday's college basketball showdown. College basketball expert Mike Spector previews the battle of 12-0 teams as the Baylor Bears face the Iowa State Cyclones.
Mike Spector |
Sat, January 1, 10:13 AM EST | 9 min read
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Baylor vs. Iowa State Prediction: Who Wins the Battle of Unbeatens?

Happy New Year to all, and what better way to ring in 2022 than with a college basketball game of historical measures. Today’s battle between the top-ranked Baylor Bears and the No. 8-ranked Iowa State Cyclones is the fourth time in the last four decades that two teams with records of at least 12-0 or better face off. Hilton Coliseum will be rocking, and this is a must-watch game amid all the New Year’s Day bowl festivities. Will Baylor earn a huge road win, or will Iowa State remain undefeated in what has been an unexpectedly great start to the season?

Baylor vs. Iowa State Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Saturday, January 1

Game Time: 2:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

Baylor vs. Iowa State Odds

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Baylor vs. Iowa State Prediction

2021 was a year to remember for Baylor, who joined some elite company with their 32-2 record over the last 365 days. Baylor is the third team since 1985 to win a national championship and lose at most two games in a calendar year, joining 1992 Duke and 1996 Kentucky.

This year’s Bears team looks vastly different from last year’s experienced squad, as Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, and Mark Vital are no longer with the university. However, Baylor has picked up right where that national championship squad left off. The Bears’ 12 wins to start the season have come by at least eight points and are punctuated by two huge wins over Michigan State and Villanova teams by a combined 132-94. 

Baylor ranks in the top five in the country in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency (per KenPom) and forces turnovers at the eighth-highest clip (26.5% of opponents’ possessions). 

Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm is well on his way to winning the Coach of the Year Award, as the Cyclones are 12-0 despite being picked to finish last in the Big 12 in the preseason media poll. Their 12 consecutive wins have come on the backs of an impressive defense. The Cyclones are one of the few teams in the country with a better defensive scoring average than Baylor, holding opponents to 56.1 PPG compared to Baylor’s 56.8. Iowa State ranks seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency and sixth in effective field goal percentage defense. In addition, the Cyclones force turnovers at a slightly higher clip than Baylor, as their 26.8% forced turnover rate ranks seventh in the country.

Given how disruptive each team has been in the half-court, this game has all the makings of a defensive slugfest. However, Baylor has two key advantages in this game: a veteran point guard to steady the offense and on the backboards.

Baylor is relentless on the offensive glass, securing 39.5% of their misses, which is eighth-most in the country. Conversely, Iowa State ranks outside the top-100 in offensive rebounding percentage allowed. In addition, former Georgetown Hoyas point guard James Akinjo has been a revelation for Baylor, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 assists per game. The senior had 17 points and six assists in their lone road game at Oregon this season, and his calmness and mettle in a hostile environment will allow Baylor to execute well in the half-court. Simply put, we have more faith in Baylor to score the basketball than Iowa State, which has gone long stretches in scoring droughts this season.

This afternoon is the first time in school history that Iowa State has hosted the No. 1 team in the country while they have been undefeated. It is also their first Top 10 matchup since 2014, when they beat the No. 7 Bears 87-72 at Hilton Coliseum. There will assuredly be some “Hilton Magic” in the air this afternoon, and that is a massive advantage for Iowa State. However, it is not ideal that they are coming off a ten-day layoff, while Baylor could work some rust out in a “tune-up” game against Northwestern State on Tuesday. 

This is Baylor’s second road game of the season, but they will be up for the challenge and will prove they are a team that should once again be considered a top threat to cut down the nets in March despite having a vastly different lineup than last year’s championship squad. 

Baylor vs. Iowa State Pick

  • PICK: Baylor -7.5 (-110)

Mike Spector

Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest


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