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Bubble Watch: Baylor Basketball A 2014 NCAA Tournament Lock With Win Over Iowa State

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Baylor Bears Basketball

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The Baylor Bears were a college basketball team that was considered a lock for the 2014 NCAA tournament, starting Big 12 play ranked in the top 10 with wins over the then No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats, the Colorado Buffaloes and Dayton Flyers. However, the Bears lost eight of their first 10 games in Big 12 play and found themselves on the tournament bubble, needing a few big wins to even stand a chance of making it to the Big Dance.

That all changed when Baylor defeated the Iowa State Cyclones at home in their next to last game in Big 12 regular season play. Cory Jefferson scored 21 points, Brady Heslip went 5-of-8 from three, and Kenny Chery chipped in with 16 points off of the bench. Baylor may have been a little lucky because Iowa State star Melvin Ejim went 3-of-14 from the field, but their defense prevailed as the Bears won 74–61.

Baylor should consider themselves locks for the 2014 NCAA tournament. 20 wins tends to be a magic number for the NCAA selection committee, and the Bears now have 20 wins with multiple marquee wins against teams like Kentucky, the Oklahoma State Cowboys and now Iowa State. Even if they lose their final game away against the Kansas State Wildcats, they should still have the resume needed to get into March Madness.

Don’t sleep on the Bears in the 2014 NCAA tournament. Baylor may be a team that is getting hot again at the perfect time and they have proven with their big wins over top college basketball teams that the Bears could be an underrated team that sneaks into the Elite Eight and even the Final Four.

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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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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