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NCAA Basketball

The NIT Winner Will Come Out of Region 1

Peter G. Aiken-USA Today Sports

If it weren’t for the Kentucky Wildcats being in the same region, I’d already declare the Baylor Bears a Final Four team in this season’s NCAA National Invitational Tournament.

The field isn’t that deep in Baylor’s region and the Bears have the inside-outside game to contend with the likes of the Wildcats and the Arizona State Sun Devils.

The only thing going against Baylor is a lack of consistency and irrationally moving away from utilizing Brady Heslip on the perimeter.

The sharp-shooting junior hasn’t had the most luck from three-point range of late, but the fact of the matter is, that’s his game and other teams know it. Heslip had four games of at least four scores from deep during the regular season and even when his shot wasn’t falling, the man who once sank eight 3’s this season still commanded attention.

If teams have to put guys on Heslip, Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin can do serious damage inside and in the mid-range.

The trick with Jackson, though, is convincing him not to take so many chances on offense, make smarter passes and drive to the basket before dishing out to the perimeter.

Sound difficult? It shouldn’t be for a Division I athlete.

Then there’s the issue of Austin taking five shots from deep in six different games this season. At 7-foot-1, there’s NO reason for Austin to make this a trend. Sure, he’s actually a pretty good shooter from deep, but how can you gather the rebound when you’re 15 feet from the basket?

Austin and Jackson have it completely twisted. Heslip on the perimeter, Jackson just inside the elbow and Austin in the paint. If Baylor can put that formula into play, I’d be surprised if they didn’t start seeing major dividends being paid.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@gmail.com, or on Twitter:@mgillmeiRantCBB. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-10 men’s basketball.

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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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