Center Isaiah Austin
is a force for Baylor
in the paint on both ends and can even provide perimeter shooting. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 24-11, 9-9 in Big 12
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 118.6 (7th) / 102.2 (116th)
Seed: No. 6 in West
Impact player: Kenny Chery, junior guard, 11.6 ppg, 4.9 apg, 87.3 percent from the line
The Case For:
March isn't often about the best team so much as it is the team that's playing the best. Baylor, which has won 10 of its last 12, can make a case for that. This is a dramatically different group than the one that lost seven of eight during a brutal stretch from mid-January to early February. The Bears have won each of the three overtime games they've played this season, so they know how to pull out close games. Senior Brady Heslip is terrific from beyond the arc (he's made 112 on the season and shoots 47.3 percent) and 7-foot-1 sophomore Isaiah Austin protects the rim, averaging 3.3 blocks per game. The Bears grab 14.2 offensive boards per game, seventh best in the nation, and second-chance opportunities are crucial in the postseason.
The Case Against:
Baylor is only average at the line (67.3 percent) and its defense -- mostly a 2-3 zone -- is so-so, allowing teams to shoot 42.4 percent. (In conference play, that number went up to 44.9). For a stretch this season, the Bears' defense was flat-out bad and they also struggled to score. Four players average 11 points or better which is good for balance, but no one averages more than senior forward Cory Jefferson's 13.5. Come crunch time, does Baylor have someone who can take over a game?
SI prediction: Beat Nebraska in second round, lose to Creighton in third round
View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts