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NCAA Basketball Baylor BearsBig 12 BasketballMarch Madness

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.