- #1 Baylor faces #16 Norfolk State in the East Region on Thursday at 2 PM ET
- The Bears are a 21.5-point favorite
- Read on for Norfolk State vs Baylor odds, lines, preview, and prediction
East Region action begins on Thursday with the reigning champions #1 Baylor Bears (26-6) taking on the #16 Norfolk State Spartans (24-6) at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The tip-off is scheduled for 2 PM ET.
Norfolk State vs Baylor Odds
|Norfolk State||+21.5 (-109)||+1600||Ov 137.5 (-108)|
|Baylor||-21.5 (-112)||-5000||Un 137.5 (-112)|
Odds as of March 15th at Barstool Sportsbook.
Baylor finished second in the Big 12 during the regular season but was upset in the early stages of the Big 12 Tournament by Oklahoma.
Norfolk State, meanwhile, has won six in a row after capturing the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title over the weekend, beating Coppin State in the final.
The most recent meeting between these two teams was in 2014, with Baylor winning by 41 points.
Baylor is a heavy 21.5-point favorite for this first-round matchup, which is no surprise considering they won it all a year ago. The March Madness first-round opening odds had Baylor as a 20.5-point favorite, so the line has moved a full point in the Bears’ direction.
Baylor’s odds to win March Madness are the fifth-best in the tournament at +1400, despite losing a plethora of players from last season’s roster to the NBA.
Tough Task at Hand For Norfolk State
The Spartans are coming off a dominant campaign, winning nine of the final 10 games and capturing their second consecutive MEAC title. This is just the third time Norfolk State has been in the Big Dance, with their most notable appearance coming in 2012 when they beat No. 2 Missouri. Saturday’s championship against Coppin State saw Rob Jones’ group cruise to victory, taking down their opponents by a score of 72-57.
Conference Player of the Year Joe Bryant once again delivered, showing out for 23 points while going 5 for 9 from three-point range. Backcourt partner Jalen Hawkins also had 17 points. The Spartans absolutely destroyed the Eagles on the boards, out-rebounding them 35-19. Norfolk State really thrived from long range as well, shooting a ridiculous 48%.
— NSU Athletics (@NSUSpartans) March 15, 2022
While this team is rolling, they’ve barely faced a top program this year. The Spartans’ only meeting with a legitimate school was against Xavier in November and that ended in a 40-point drubbing. The lack of competition will make Thursday’s game an extremely tough task.
Baylor Hasn’t Slowed Down
Many believed the Bears would take a step back after losing to the likes of Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler. But, they’ve actually looked extremely solid, with a number of different players stepping up to the plate. Adam Flagler (13.4 PPG), James Akinjo (13.4 PPG), and Kendall Brown (10 PPG) are just three of their offensive weapons, with a total of six rotational pieces averaging at least 8.4 points per contest, not including the injured LJ Cryer.
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) March 14, 2022
To be honest, no one thought the Sooners would knock out Baylor so early in the Big 12 tourney, but it was a brutal performance from the national champs. Scott Drew’s squad shot just 14% from downtown and 38% from the field, knocking down just three triples on the day, while OU absolutely thrived. However, this defeat shouldn’t take away from the consistency the Bears showed throughout the course of the campaign. They beat Kansas in late February and also took down Villanova and Michigan State.
Baylor ranks top-30 in the nation in offensive and defensive rating while sitting in 19th in steals per game with 8.8. Their defense should have no problems overwhelming a rather inexperienced Norfolk State backcourt who don’t typically play opponents like the Bears.
Norfolk State vs Baylor Prediction
I honestly don’t see this ending any way but a blowout win for Baylor. Xavier is by no means the Bears and the Spartans were absolutely dominated by them. The spread 21.5-point spread might be tempting to a certain section of Virginia sports bettors, but I do think the 2021 champions will convincingly roll into the second round.
Pick: Baylor -21.5 (-112)
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- East Region Odds — Baylor Earns Top Seed, Kentucky Favored
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