How to avoid a ‘Baylor’ playoff exit
If Baylor wins its final five games, the Bears will have reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.
It’s a milestone for a program that, in the wake of NCAA sanctions, has already made major strides on the court and on the recruiting trail, though the Bears have struggled in the trenches.
The Bears went 8-8 during a three-game losing streak, the longest since 2009-10.
The loss in Kansas City was especially devastating.
Baylor’s loss marked its third straight game that ended in a loss.
In the end, the win over Kansas State on Monday night put the Bears in the Sweet 16.
It was also Baylor’s fifth consecutive win in Kansas.
It will be the program’s fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1998.
The Jayhawks will be a tough test for the Bears, especially with the loss of leading scorer Dwayne Bacon to a season-ending knee injury.
This game is a chance to prove to Baylor’s fans that the team has the talent to win at the Big 12 Tournament.
If the Bears win this game, it would be the fourth straight Sweet 16 berth for the program.
In addition, the Jayhawks could clinch a first-round bye and be able to earn a berth in the NCAA Final Four, which they are likely to do with a win over No. 9 seed Kansas.
That would be one of the Big Eight’s three semifinal spots.
This is a good time for Baylor to win this one, especially since the Jayhawk defense is much improved.
The Wildcats are coming off a season where they were No. 2 in scoring defense and ranked No. 3 in opponent field goal percentage.
But the Jayhawks also are coming into their own as a team and are expected to challenge the nation’s No. 1 offense.
The two teams will be facing each other for the fifth time this season.
Both teams have struggled offensively in recent weeks, though.
Kansas State shot 39.7 percent and Baylor shot 35.7.
It appears the Jaykeyes will have their hands full against a Jayhawk offense that is averaging nearly 27 points per game.
Kansas also has struggled defensively this season, allowing teams to shoot 50.0 percent.
This will be Baylor’s first Sweet 16 appearance since the 2007-08 season.
The Bluejays are coming in with the league’s best record, and it will be tough for the Jayhoas to beat the Bears.