NCAA March Madness Preview – Baylor Bears

Baylor Bears

Big 12 (25-7, 11-6)

 by Joel Welser

Fresh off their First Round upset loss to Yale, Baylor is hoping for a much better tournament run in 2017. The Bears had an amazing start to the season and won their first 15 games. And it is not like this team had an easy schedule like so many other teams. Baylor beat Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, Louisville and Xavier in non-conference play. There were some losses in Big 12 play, but Coach Scott Drew will have his team ready to make a deep run.

Big Wins: 11/15 Oregon (66-49), 11/25 vs Louisville (66-63), 2/27 West Virginia (71-62)

Bad Losses: 2/4 Kansas State (54-56), 2/13 at Texas Tech (78-84), 2/25 at Iowa State (69-72)

Coach: Scott Drew

Why They Can Surprise:

Baylor’s size and depth can give anybody problems. Johnathan Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil make it extremely difficult for anybody to get an easy bucket in the paint. Motley averages 1.0 blocks per game on top of his team high 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. Lual-Acuil is the bigger shot blocking threat, averaging 2.6 per game. The seven-foot junior college transfer also averages 9.2 points and 7.0 rebounds. It was no surprise that Lual-Acuil is blocking shots, but his production on offense has added yet another scoring dimension to this team. With those two leading the way, Baylor is a great rebounding team and a great shot blocking team. Terry Maston and Nuni Omot provide most of the frontcourt depth. They are not as productive as Motley and Lual-Acuil, but Maston and Omot are decent scorers.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The Baylor backcourt has talent with Ishamil Wainright, Manu Lecomte and Al Freeman leading the way. Wainright is not a great scorer, but the 6-5 senior can do everything else. He is a fine passer, a great defender and a superb rebounder for a guard. Lecomte has been the most prolific scorer on the perimeter and he is also a very good three-point shooter. However, Lecomte is really the only outside shooting threat on the team. Freeman has been extremely inconsistent shooting the ball and Baylor needs him to get hot at the right time. If Lecomte is the only real outside shooting threat, the opposition can concentrate on stopping Motley and potentially shut down the Baylor offense. If Freeman is struggling to knock down shots, Baylor will need Jake Lindsey or King McClure to step into that role.

Probable Starters:

Manu Lecomte, Junior, Guard, 12.4 ppg, 3.9 apg

Ishamil Wainright, Senior, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 5.1 rpg

Al Freeman, Junior, Guard, 9.8 ppg, 1.3 apg

Johnathan Motley, Junior, Forward, 17.3 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Jo Lual-Acuil, Junior, Forward, 9.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.6 bpg

Key Role Players:

Terry Maston, Junior, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Jake Lindsey, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg

King McClure, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 ppg

Nuni Omot, Junior, Forward, 4.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 73.0 (183rd in nation, 8th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 62.5 (17, 1)

Field-Goal Percentage: 47.2 (44, 3)

Field-Goal Defense: 39.5 (15, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (228, 7)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.8 (142, 7)

Free-Throw Percentage: 72.1 (116, 4)

Rebound Margin: 8.8 (6, 1)

Assists Per Game: 15.6 (57, 5)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.4 (208, 7)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Yale

2015    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Georgia State

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Nebraska

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over Creighton

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Wisconsin

2013    NIT     First Round win over Long Beach State

2013    NIT     Second Round win over Arizona State

2013    NIT     Quarterfinal win over Providence

2013    NIT     Semifinal win over BYU

2013    NIT     Final win over Iowa

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over South Dakota State

2012    NCAA Round of 32 win over Colorado

2012    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Xavier

2012    NCAA Regional Final loss to Kentucky

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Sam Houston State

2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over Old Dominion

2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over St. Mary’s

2010    NCAA Regional Final loss to Duke

2009    NIT     First Round win over Georgetown

2009    NIT     Second Round win over Virginia Tech

2009    NIT     Quarterfinal win over Auburn

2009    NIT     Semifinal win over San Diego State

2009    NIT     Final loss to Penn State

2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Purdue

*all team stats through 3/5

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