Let’s talk about Thursday’s big matchup in Waco between the UConn Huskies and Baylor Bears. When looking at the numbers here, let’s establish a few things:
- There’s just one loss between both teams so no breakdowns will involve win-loss record ie. UConn is undefeated when they do x…..doesn’t really matter since both teams have won quite a bit thus far
- Throw out the numbers against the really bad teams. Both teams have won multiple games by 30+ points and of course they dominated pretty much every statistical category so it’s not going to be pertinent to a game like this where you can assume it’s going to be pretty competitive
- All that being said, we have 3 meaningful games for each team that we will look at and when you’re dealing with a small sample size, that doesn’t equate to a pattern that is set in stone. Later in the season, when you’ve got 9-10 meaningful games, you can start to see something that is likely to repeat itself
How Have Teams Succeeded Against Baylor
Baylor has played three games that ended in single digit margins, everything else has been a margin of 21 points or more in favor of the Lady Bears. None of those close games were at home, a five point loss at Stanford, a six point win over Arizona State and a six point win over South Dakota State on a neutral floor. A few observations from those games:
- The Assist to Turnover ratio was exactly one or less in each of those games, while it was well above one in all of there other games
- On the flip side, in those three games, their opponents had a significantly positive assist to turnover ratio (almost 2-1) vs a significantly negative ratio existed in all other games
- Their opponents had three of the four best three-point shooting days vs Baylor in those three games averaging 12-31 (38.7%) – accounting for 50% or more of each of those opponents’ points
- Baylor doesn’t rely on the three-point shot at all and why would you given 6’7″ Kalani Brown and 6’4″ Lauren Cox inside. They destroy people on the boards and shooting a high percentage inside is very difficult.
To beat Baylor, you’ve got to shoot well from the outside and essentially exchange 3’s for 2’s to open up a lead and/or stay in the game. If you’re not shooting well, you’re not getting many second chances, if any, and Baylor shoots a high percentage inside so they’re gonna score and start to pull away.
How Have Teams Succeeded Against UConn
UConn is undefeated and their closest game was a 9-point win at Oklahoma. In fact, their four closest games have been on the road. So, here we’ll focus on the games at Oklahoma, at St. John’s and at Cal, all of which UConn won by 10 or less. A few observations from those games:
- All three of those teams shot 38% or better, which is not outstanding but only one other team, Notre Dame, shot around that mark – everyone else was closer to 29%
- UConn had their two worst shooting days (44% and 40%) in those two closest games vs Oklahoma and St. John’s (statistically it makes no sense how Cal kept it close)
- Similar to Baylor, Assist to Turnover ratio stands out as big indicator, with UConn posting a slightly negative one in these games, interestingly their opponents were more negative but clearly did something defensively to disrupt the Huskies
So, you’ve got to shoot a pretty good percentage against the Huskies but also you have to be able to just work your offense. They don’t turn you over an abnormal amount of times but you’ve got to be precise and work to get some open looks. UConn can shoot the three-pointer pretty well but they don’t rely on it and they seem to rely on it less in these closer games.
Baylor doesn’t need to rely on three-pointers to stay in the game and they can get to the free throw line (23 attempts per game) significantly more than UConn’s opponents have thus far (only about 10 attempts per game).
UConn can certainly hit enough three-pointers to create that 3 for 2 situation that Baylor’s toughest opponents have created for them. And I think that’s what this game comes down to, if they can hit enough three-pointers early, it will be difficult for Baylor to overcome and it may just become a steady 6-8 point margin for most of the game.
However, UConn has played its worst on the road this year so I’ll give the edge to the Lady Bears in Waco, call it 68-64, in what should be a great game.