Norfolk St @ Baylor
Norfolk St +24½ +100 over Baylor

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Posted at 3:30 PM EST odds are subject to change.

Pinnacle +24½ +100 BET365 +24½ -110 SportsInteraction +24½ -109  888Sport +24½ -110

Norfolk St +24½ over Baylor

Ferrell Center - Waco, TX

Streaming: ESPN+

8:00 PM EST. We are most certainly not here to bash Baylor. The Bears are ranked #5 in the country and expectations are through the roof. Baylor was a 44-point fav ro open the year v Mississippi Valley State and they won by 64 points, 117-53.

Culture is a buzzword in college basketball in 2022, synonymous with the kind of cliched coachspeak that gets thrown around in every introductory news conference. But when it comes to Scott Drew’s Baylor Bears, the Culture of JOY – Jesus, Others and Yourself – has as much to do with their ascent to the top of the sport as the coaching, the talent, or anything else.

In 2021-22, Baylor shook off the loss of four starters to start the season 15-0, a mark which included blowout wins over Villanova and Michigan State. In early January, they were No. 1 in the polls, No. 1 on KenPom and No. 1 in in Worshippers of God but a series of season-ending injuries turned them from a contender to repeat for a national championship into, well, Big 12 co-champs and a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears lost in the second round of the tournament as a depleted rotation that went six deep — with about two-and-a-half healthy bodies in total — caught up with them. Then, the cycle started all over again. For the second straight year, Baylor is replacing four of its top five players.

“I’m not worried about the culture,” Drew said. “We have great upperclass leadership returning, and a player-led team is better than a coach-led team. Our success will be dependent on new players picking up where they need to be offensively and defensively.

Anyway, that’s the scoop on Baylor and it’s the new normal. It may have taken 20 years, but Scott Drew has turned the Bears from the dregs of the high major ranks into the premier program in college basketball. There may not be a program operating at such a consistently high level in all of college basketball. Baylor has ranked No. 1 in the country in each of the past three seasons. They won two of the past three Big 12 regular season titles. They won the national title in 2021. If not for an ill-timed COVID outbreak, they may have gone undefeated that year. If not for a handful of season-ending injuries last year, they may have gone back-to-back. Now, though, there are new faces, new pieces and new things that must be figured out. After the past three seasons, it’s likely that Scott Drew will figure it out — one way or another but if you spot 24½-points with them, not only are you paying a massive premium but you’ll be doing it against one of the best mid-majors in the country that might actually run the table in the MEAC.

When Robert Jones moved to southern Virginia from New York in 2007, he saw a program hungry to prove itself and felt an instant connection. “I’ve been an underdog all my life,” he said. “Growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, I could’ve become a statistic — either positive or negative. So I’m used to proving people wrong and I like doing that. Over the past decade, few can argue that Norfolk State HC Robert Jones has done just that. After six years as an assistant, he took over as the head coach in 2013 and has forged the Spartans into the class of the MEAC. With Jones in charge, Norfolk State has an eye-popping 104-34 record in league play (.754 win percentage) and has never finished worse than tied for second. Last season marked Jones’s best one yet, as he led Norfolk State to a 24-7 record (12-2 in conference) and its second-consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Those Spartans led the MEAC in both offensive and defensive efficiency. With 11 players returning, they have positioned themselves to win the league yet again— and perhaps even more.

Playing in a one-bid league leaves almost no margin for error. However, this Norfolk St. squad is built to dominate the MEAC. In this day and age, their lack of roster turnover is almost unprecedented for any team, much less a mid-major. They certainly will not sneak up on anybody, but Jones feels determined to not let the proverbial “hunted” label unravel his team. Instead, he wants his team to embrace the pressure — and continue proving Norfolk State’s legitimacy. “Perception is not reality,” Jones emphasized. “People think we have no budget and nothing going on. Sometimes, there’s a negative connotation with HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities). But we’re one of the best mid-majors in the country. Frankly, we don’t care who the opposition is. When we can get this many points with a mid-major juggernaut like this one, we’ll roll the dice and see where it lands. We’d be very surprised if the dog didn’t come in way under the number.

Our Pick

Norfolk St +24½ +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)



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