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Before Baylor takes the floor tonight against the ... 49ers (had to look that up), I thought we might take a look at a relatively unknown foe.
No. 2 Baylor (18-14) vs. No. 7 Long Beach State (19-13)
March 20, 2013 | 8:00 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)
TV: ESPN2 & WatchESPN
Radio: ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM
Watch | Listen | Gametracker | Notes | Tickets
Before we found out that Baylor would be paired with them in the first round of the NIT, I, probably like most, knew almost nothing about the Long Beach State 49ers, including the fact that their nickname is the 49ers. So here's the nitty-gritty about their team and this game:
Conference: Big West, lost to UC-Irvine in the conference tournament.
Record: 19-13 (14-4)
Statsheet Profile: Summary (use subsheets and drop-downs for more information)
Game Preview: Baylor vs. LBSU
LBSU KenPom: Rank -- 147, AdjO -- 121, AdjD -- 191, AdjTempo -- 126, Luck -- 8
Baylor KenPom: Rank -- 41, AdjO -- 29, AdjD -- 74, AdjTempo -- 171, Luck -- 344
Spread: Baylor - 12
RPI: 109 as of latest update.
As you can see, James Ennis, a senior swing guard, is Long Beach State's best player. At 6-7, he could be a pretty tough assignment for A.J. Walton, who you would assume would draw him defensively, to guard. That might actually be a pretty tough mark for a team that generally runs 3 smaller guards, anyway, meaning we could see more Deuce Bello than we're used to in this game. Hopefully the phantom foul on Phil Forte won't destroy his confidence.
Michael Caffey, LBSU's point guard, is the second-best player on the team and a much smaller, more traditional point. Pierre and/or Walton should be able to handle him, The rest of the probable starting 5 for the 49ers is made up of Dan Jennings, a 6-9 forward, Tony Freeland, a 6-7 forward, and either Peter Pappageorge (6-0 guard) or Kela King (6-5 guard). It's worth noting that Jennings at 6-9 is the largest 49er to receive significant playing time this season, something we should be able to exploit with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson inside. Given that LBSU already has significant difficulty with offensive rebounding, our work on the defensive boards against an undersized team
The more I think about it, the more Ennis scares me against our guards. Without a true small forward to play against him, his skills at scoring (61% true shooting percentage) and getting to the line (40.7 free throw rate) could put him in a position to score a bunch of points against us. Our best strategy against him is probably to let him shoot 3s (35.8%) and then clean up the misses. The closer he gets to the basket, obviously, the better his chances of hitting a shot or getting fouled, become. If I'm LBSU, I put him on Brady Heslip defensively, since Heslip is unlikely to drive around him to create a shot, though that may give us a better chance of getting Heslip open off a screen.
Overall, Baylor is heavily favored in this game (12 points is a pretty good spread) for a reason. We're better offensively and defensively and haven't been nearly as lucky getting where we are as the 49ers have. Actually, we've been one of the unluckiest teams in the country, if you believe in that sort of thing. I predict the Bears will win and handily against an undersized LBSU team, we just have to make sure Ennis doesn't go off and make things interesting as long as he can.