If you happen to offered your Baylor inventory a very long time in the past, you’d have been forgiven on Saturday. For many of the first half in opposition to Villanova, the top-seeded Bears struggled to dissect a well-drilled Wildcats zone. The Bears’ dominant early-season play in all probability set an unfair customary, however it’s been fairly robust to guess which model of this crew will present up at a given cut-off date. Typically, there’s no speeding it.
In that rocky half, feelings ran excessive, and little or no broke proper. Baylor shot simply 2 of 12 from three in a mucky first half, during which neither crew managed a fast-break level. They had been settling for robust threes and trailed by seven. Scott Drew closed the half with a four-guard lineup. The Bears had been looking.
As nice groups do, they discovered no matter it was they had been trying for at halftime. “We all know [threes are] not gonna fall each evening,” Davion Mitchell advised reporters postgame. “We gotta guard and be capable of get to the rim.” With about 10 minutes left in the recreation, Baylor dug in. The Bears redoubled their emphasis on the drive and used their pace as a bonus. Mitchell’s dedicated ball strain and frenetic power sped up Villanova’s perimeter gamers in the worst method. Baylor’s guards performed up in the gaps and disjointed the Wildcats’ circulation. Matthew Mayer and Adam Flagler turned in impression minutes off the bench.
“We knew if we needed to win, we needed to make them uncomfortable,” Mitchell mentioned. Regardless of the absence of injured Collin Gillespie, the Wildcats had turned it over simply six instances in every of their first two tourney video games. Baylor pressured 9 turnovers in the second half alone. Villanova shot 0 for 9 from three in the second half and went to the foul line simply thrice. In the meantime, Baylor scored 28 factors in the paint, scored 13 factors off 9 turnovers and compelled six steals.
The Bears have been extensively pegged since fall as the solely crew with a probability to topple title favourite Gonzaga. A February COVID-19 pause broke up their rhythm. They’ve taken their lumps since. They didn’t win the Massive 12 match. Heading into Monday’s Elite Eight matchup with Arkansas, there’s not a lot leeway left for the Bears’ short-term lapses in identification.
If you happen to picked Baylor to win the complete factor, you’re in the minority. However there’s nonetheless motive to be bullish. The Bears’ backcourt remains to be the deepest and hardest round. The requisite steadiness for Mitchell and Jared Butler to thrive in the identical recreation is delicate. However after they all share the ball, (they usually normally do), they reap the advantages. MaCio Teague has been quiet the final two video games, whereas Adam Flagler appears to have rediscovered his confidence.
The true merchandise of concern transferring ahead is the distribution of taking part in time in the frontcourt. Mark Important stays a massive piece of the rotation, and his motor is effective, however he clogs up Baylor’s spacing, and his minutes generally create diminishing returns. Matthew Mayer performed simply 5 minutes in the first half, and couldn’t match Villanova’s physicality. He bounced again with a actual effort on the glass, and if he retains it up, we may even see extra of him from right here on out. Flo Thamba and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua mixed for simply six factors and 5 rebounds at heart, and albeit, that platoon has to play significantly better. If the Bears preserve giving up the rim the method they did for a lot of Saturday, even making the Ultimate 4 goes to be an uphill climb.
Baylor was up and down in opposition to Wisconsin final week, too. They in all probability can’t afford one other recreation like this, and even one other common day. We’ll discover out Monday whether or not what we simply noticed was a vivid dream, or a correct awakening. Whether or not Baylor’s greatest is sweet sufficient, although, has by no means been doubtful.
A ladies’s Candy 16 Saturday that was marketed as being about simply two gamers as an alternative provided house for many, and on a large stage. (By Emma Baccellieri)
After a masterful gameplan vs. Loyola, Oregon State is 40 minutes from being the lowest seed to ever make the Ultimate 4. (By Pat Forde)
USC boasts the most proficient participant left in the males’s match. This is how Evan Mobley offers the Trojans a shot at a historic upset. (By Jeremy Woo)
The legend of Max Abmas started lengthy earlier than he was draining threes in the males’s NCAA match for Oral Roberts. (By Kevin Sweeney)
The final play of the thrilling Oral Roberts-Arkansas recreation unfolded like a dream. (By Pat Forde)
Greatest Factor We Noticed
Paige Bueckers is fearless.
Decide ‘Em: Candy 16
SI’s Kevin Sweeney makes picks for two of Sunday’s males’s video games:
No. 2 Alabama over No. 11 UCLA: The Bruins have a probability if they will management the tempo, however the Tide are almost inconceivable to beat when they’re hitting outdoors pictures.
No. 6 USC over No. 7 Oregon: It’s robust to wager in opposition to a Dana Altman crew in March, however the Geese will wrestle with USC’s measurement and star energy up entrance.
SI’s Molly Geary makes picks for two of Sunday’s ladies’s video games:
No. 6 Oregon over No. 2 Louisville: The Cardinals seemed shaky in opposition to Northwestern, and the Geese have performed nicely via two rounds.
No. 2 Maryland over No. 6 Texas: The Longhorns do not have a lot of depth, and the Terps’ offense, recent off its 100-point outing vs. Alabama, will come at them in waves.
The basketball world hasn’t heard the final of Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor. Each have NCAA eligibility remaining, whether or not they return to ORU or check the ever-popular switch portal. And between Obanor’s 47% capturing from deep at 6’ 8” and Abmas’s limitless vary and quickness, each have very reliable probabilities at cracking the NBA. —Kevin Sweeney
At the Buzzer
Speak about the bracket breaking in your favor. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Houston males’s crew will likely be the first crew in NCAA match historical past to face 4 double-digit seeds in a single tourney. The Cougars’ path to date: No. 15 Cleveland State, No. 10 Rutgers, No. 11 Syracuse and (up subsequent) No. 12 Oregon State. Will they make it a clear sweep?