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NCAA Basketball

Baylor Bears Could Mess Up a Number of NCAA Tournament Brackets

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Every year there is one team to fall in love with who will inevitably break your heart.  You know the team well…they are talented as can be and have the flashy names that lull you into a false sense of security about their standing in the tournament.  Today I found that team for this season and it’s Baylor.  The Bears looked good in clamping down on Oklahoma State today, 64-54.  With the win, they moved to 13-5 on the season, 4-1 in the Big 12 Conference.

Before tonight’s victory, the school had an RPI of 45, which put them in a bit of a perilous state when it comes to making the tournament.  When looking at their schedule, we see wins over Lehigh (99-77), St. John’s (97-78), Kentucky (64-55) and BYU (79-64). Four solid wins for the Bears which they will need because of losses to Northwestern, Charleston and Colorado. They were noncompetitive in a loss to Kansas earlier this month.  Three more ranked games left with two of them coming against Kansas State and a home game with the Jayhawks.

You can see why a person would be scared to pencil in Baylor for any sort of run by their inconsistency in the games above.  You’d feel a lot better about this team after looking at the roster.  The straw that stirs the drink is Pierre Jackson who is scoring 18.6 points per game, with just over six assists per game.  Jackson shoots over 40 percent from the field and is a good free throw shooter when it matters.  Jackson’s big man is Isaiah Austin who is an absolute freak of nature.  Austin puts up nearly 15 points per game with almost nine rebounds per game.  The big man has put up less then 10 points just twice this season and has even flashed three-point range in his game.

The third amigo in this squad is Cory Jefferson who is one of the most efficient shooters in America.  The lanky forward is shooting 60 percent from the field and has had just seven games where he’s made less then 50 percent.  Jefferson is actually averaging more blocks then Austin despite Isaiah’s size advantage.  Brady Heslip is the fourth important player on this team, although he is slumping big time.  The sharpshooter has scored just 18 points in his last four games shooting 6-of-15 from three-point land over that span.  Heslip has to figure things out for this team to go far in March.

When it tourney time comes, if you see Baylor in the field of 68, just ask yourself how you think they are going to do. If they can get Heslip on track and if they can find another scorer in the group of AJ Walton, Gary Franklin and LJ Rose, then it will be playing for awhile. If not, Baylor will drive you nuts when they lose early.

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NCAA Tournament Profile: Baylor Bears

Record: 24-9

RPI: 10

BPI: 19

Conference: Big 12 Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 3 seed in West

 

The Baylor Bears didn’t win the Big 12 title, but there was no question that they were an NCAA tournament team entering the Big 12 tourney. That tends to be the case when a team is ranked in the top 25 entering the final week of the season.

The Bears had the pleasure of playing in the dance last season, but they went down to the Wisconsin Badgers, who ended up making a run to the Final Four.

This time around, they have the talent to make a similar run to Wisconsin’s, and playing in the very deep Big 12 certainly didn’t hurt. Translation: Baylor is tournament tested, if you will.

 

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: Taurean Prince (13.8 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Rico Gathers (11.6 RPG)

Leading Passer: Kenny Chery (4.0 APG)

Bad Losses: None

Good Wins: Iowa State (twice), Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia (x3)

 

Would you look at all of those quality wins. Iowa State, Oklahoma and West Virginia all have the talent to make a Final Four run. All three of those teams won’t make that type of run, but the talent is still definitely there.

Although Baylor doesn’t exactly have star power, said star power doesn’t always mean everything, especially in a tournament as crazy as the Big Dance. The team does have four players who are averaging 10+ points per game, and can keep up with the best of them. Once again, the Bears did manage to knock off Iowa State … twice.

The Baylor Bears are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at RantSports.com. If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

The Baylor Bears may have had an early exit last season, but this year's squad has the talent to make a serious run.

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