NCAA March Madness: Baylor vs. UC Santa Barbara betting preview, odds and predictions


NCAA March Madness: Baylor Bears vs. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos betting preview, odds and predictions

In the 3 vs. 14 matchup in the South region of the 2023 NCAA tournament, the Baylor Bears face the UC Santa Barbara with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs. 


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How to watch Baylor vs. UC Santa Barbara

When: Friday, 1:30 p.m. ET

Where: Denver, Colorado

Watch: TNT

Odds for Baylor vs. UC Santa Barbara

Spread: Baylor -10.5

Total: 144.5 

(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 12th at 11:00 p.m. ET)

Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook

South Region No. 3 Seed Baylor Bears

In Keyonte George, Baylor has one of the most dangerous perimeter players in the nation, and the Bears have two other excellent guards in Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer. All three players are a big part of the reason this Baylor team has one of the best adjusted offensive efficiency ratings in the country. And we all know what can happen when Scott Drew’s teams get hot in March, as we saw the Bears win this tournament in the 2020-21 season. This year’s group definitely has that same magic offensively, but the question is the other side of the floor. Baylor struggled defensively this season and will need to find a way to flip the switch for March Madness.

South Region No. 14 Seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 

UCSB is a pretty interesting team this year, as the Gauchos can really execute in the half court. They were a top-75 team in adjusted offensive efficiency this season, while also playing at a snail’s pace when it comes to tempo. That should be a really valuable trait in March Madness, as these games tend to turn into half-court slugfests. UCSB will just need to dig in on the defensive end in order to make some noise. The Gauchos weren’t terrible on that end this year, but they’ll be hoping that some added adrenaline can kick them into another gear.

Baylor vs. UC Santa Barbara matchup analysis

The Big West champs might be in for a surprise in the first round. They did not play a single Quadrant I opponent during the regular season and played one of the weaker nonconference schedules in the Field of 68. We can all agree that there are a lot of uncertainties with Baylor, but there were times when this looked like one of the best teams in the country.

One of those uncertainties is Scott Drew. Baylor got over the hump in 2021 and won it all, but Drew has had a lot of highly-ranked Baylor teams and that title marked the one and only time the Bears got to the Final Four. They’ve actually had three first-round exits and two second-round exits dating back to their first NCAA Tournament appearance under Drew in 2008.

Baylor hasn’t really tripped up in games like this, though some have been a little too close for comfort. There is a chance this one fits that bill. UCSB plays at a slow tempo. Baylor doesn’t get to the rim and settles for a lot of long jumpers. This is the kind of game where the Bears should use their size and athleticism to push around the Gauchos under the basket, but getting to the rim hasn’t been a priority. If it is here, this game could be a blowout.

If it isn’t, that could allow UC Santa Barbara to hang around. Baylor had the highest FG% against on Close Twos, but also one of the lowest shot shares against. UCSB got to the rim at a pretty high rate, but that was against the Big West and a Charmin-soft nonconference slate. Baylor’s a different beast. However, Joe Pasternack is an excellent head coach and his team pays attention to the details well. This is a team that ranks 22nd in 2P%, while Baylor is 314th in 2P% against.

This game feels a lot like most of the high-major vs. low-major games. UCSB has the goods to compete, but do they have the staying power to do so for 40 minutes? It may simply depend on how engaged Baylor is in this opening-round game.

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