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Baylor Sleeper Team To Win 2013-2014 Big 12 Basketball Title

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Isaiah Austin

Joe Camporeale-USATODAY Sports

When one thinks of Big 12 basketball, they automatically think about a Kansas dynasty. When one thinks of the 2013-2014 Big 12 basketball conference, they think of Marcus Smart returning, giving Oklahoma State the most probable chance of destroying that impressive title streak the Jayhawks have built.

While Smart’s return gives the Cowboys an enormous boost, another Big 12 team has received exciting news about two valuable big men returning to try to crown a champion outside of Kansas and Oklahoma State.

The Baylor Bears have officially held onto junior forward Corey Jefferson who has decided to return to Waco for his senior year. Jefferson was completely overshadowed as an underclassman by fellow big men Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III. Despite playing just 4.6 minutes per game as a freshman and 10.5 minutes per game as a sophomore, Jefferson showcased his hidden talents in the 2012-2013 season by putting up 13.3 points per game and also bringing in 8.0 rebounds per game.

Jefferson is a 6-9, 210 pound forward with an NBA-ready body however Jefferson was clearly not satisfied with ending his collegiate career as part of the NIT champion Baylor Bears as he has declared that he will return to Baylor bringing much delight to the Baylor faithful, especially head coach Scott Drew.

While Jefferson returning was welcome news for the Bears, the more surprising gift is certainly the retention of the 7’1 freshman center Isaiah Austin. While Austin didn’t have a year that locked him in as a lottery pick, he was still projected to be a late first-rounder. As a freshman Austin averaged 13 points per game and was the leading rebounder bringing in 8.3 rebounds per game.

Had the Bears lost Jefferson this could easily be written off as a rebuilding year. By keeping Jefferson, Baylor will definitely be competitive in the Big 12, but by also keeping Austin for another year the Bears have become a conference title contending team.

With senior point guard Pierre Jackson departing from Waco the Bears needed some fire power to make up for the 19.8 points per game Jackson brought in. Jefferson and Austin are just what the doctor ordered for Baylor Basketball. Another offseason will do wonders for these two talented big men who will ensure that Baylor finishes near the top if not at the top of the Big 12 in the 2013-2014 NCAA basketball season.

 

Mike Maicke is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports.  Follow Mike on Twitter @MJ_Maicke

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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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