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Thursday Daily Bears Report: Sooner or Later

It was almost inevitable that at some point in the Big 12 Tournament the Bears would run into one of the three teams that swept them during the regular season. Today, they take on the Oklahoma Sooners at 6 p.m. in the second game of their tournament run.

The best part about this game was that it replenished our stock of photos
The best part about this game was that it replenished our stock of photos
Jamie Squire

With all of the basketball news that is currently coming in, covering other sports would normally take a backseat. We plan on making sure that all Baylor student athletes get the coverage they deserve in the midst of March Madness. That said, we are in the middle of postseason play, so let's get to it!

Big 12 Tournament

There were no surprises yesterday. Baylor and Oklahoma State both dispatched lesser opponents with relative ease, although the lackadaisical manner in which Baylor played TCU raised a few eyebrows, especially among those who are less familiar with Baylor's rotation and style of play.

It was apparent from a few minutes in that Scott Drew did not intend to burn out his best players for a 30-point victory. The potential of playing four games in four days is daunting, and any good coach will preserve his talent as long as possible. When the Bears went up 15-3 in a little less than four minutes, the substitutions began. Almost everyone in the regular lineup played in the first half (with the somewhat notable exception of Ish Wainwright, who didn't see the floor) and rotations were made in such a manner that at times it seemed the personnel on the floor made no sense. Royce O'Neale played a team-high 34 minutes and led the team in rebounds with 12.

The Bears, normally a strong perimeter team, played almost exclusively in the paint. Player of the Game Cory Jefferson and fellow big man Isaiah Austin combined for 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks - a number that would have been higher but for two questionable goaltending calls on Austin). Baylor dominated the game in every possible way, but TCU managed to hang around. I attribute this mostly to Coach Drew's constant substitutions to keep the team fresh, and an understandable underestimation of the Horned Frogs by a team that had beaten them by an average of 29.5 points per game coming in. TCU, almost depressingly, finished their season 0-19 in conference play and 2-27 in conference play across football and basketball. Ouch.

Today the tournament presents four fantastic games. Let's check them out!

No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Kansas State

11:30 a.m. on ESPN2

Farmageddon on the hardwood has come to Kansas City. These two teams split their regular season series, with the Cyclones winning by 6 in Ames and the Wildcats winning by 7 in Manhattan. Both of these teams are completely different away from the deafening confines of their home arenas. Iowa State is a consistent scoring machine; Baylor was the only team to hold them below 70 points all year. Kansas State, on the other hand, is fast and aggressive on defense. We'll see whether Marcus Foster and the Wildcats (I have to resist the urge to call them the Snydercats) can hold off Big 12 POY Melvin Ejim and his gang on a neutral court. I'm looking forward to this one.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Oklahoma State

2:00 p.m. on ESPN2

The seeds are a lie. Oklahoma State was a radically inconsistent squad during conference play, but have been a force to be reckoned with since Marcus Smart returned from his three-game suspension. After strangling Texas Tech yesterday, the Pokes should feel pretty good heading into their matchup with the Jayhawks. Kansas will be missing Joel Embiid, the Starsky to Andrew Wiggins' Hutch. Lots of commentators have put Kansas on upset alert after their shocking loss to West Virginia last weekend. I'm looking forward to this one too.

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Baylor

6:00 p.m. on Big 12 Network and ESPN3

This is the important one. After finishing 8-1 in conference play and clumsily ending TCU's season yesterday, Baylor is one of the hottest teams in the country. Oklahoma is a team without terrifying strengths and without glaring weaknesses, and it makes them one of the hardest teams in the conference to plan for. The Sooners finished tied for second in the Big 12, and won the tiebreaker with Texas for seeding purposes in the tourney. Led by media-elected Big 12 Coach of the Year Lon Kruger, Oklahoma should not and must not be overestimated. This is a team that Baylor is perfectly capable of beating if they consistently play to their strengths.

No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 West Virginia

8:30 p.m. on Big 12 Network

On any other day this would be the most intriguing matchup, but it would be impossible to pick a most intriguing matchup with tomorrow's slate of games. Still, UT-WVU is the only game of the day to showcase a team that hasn't mostly wrapped up its bid to the big dance. West Virginia is on the wrong side of the bubble, and will be looking to make a deep Big 12 tournament run to boost their resume and be the unlikely eighth Big 12 team into the NCAA tournament. The Longhorns won their last matchup with the Mountaineers by 17 points in Austin, but have slipped since then, losing 3 of their last 5 with only a narrow win over Baylor and an unextraordinary victory over TCU to show for their efforts. If Javan Felix's shooting goes cold, Juwan Staten and company could stun the Longhorns and keep their postseason hopes alive.

Meanwhile, in the Baylor Athletics Department...

Men's Tennis Records Upset Win at No. 3 UCLA - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
This is a huge win for a men's team that has struggled with inconsistency at times this year. The Bears beat the Bruins 4-2, fueled by the victory of No. 8 Julian Lenz over top-ranked singles competitor Clay Thompson.

The Lady Bears await their tournament draw and will play the first two rounds on March 22 and 24 in the Ferrell Center.

Softball returns to the field tomorrow at USF's Spring Break Invitational, where they will play 5 games over the weekend, including UMass and Penn State on Friday.

Women's Tennis travels to No. 15 Miami. The match will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Other Shootyhoops

Inside the mind of a member of the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee - ESPN
What's it like to be a member of the tournament selection committee? Ask WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich.

This is an extremely intriguing piece on the daily routine of a selection committee member. Handing out invites to the big dance is one of the more daunting jobs in sports; there's no way to get it completely right. High seeds are bound to flop, and near-misses are bound to win NIT games by 40 and make the committee wish they could have had a second go at it. As the window begins to close for bubble teams, the pressure is only beginning to mount for the men who are paid to pull the trigger on dozens of student-athletes' hopes and dreams.

American University beat Boston University (the other BU) by a score of 55-36 in what must have been an absolutely miserable game of basketball. American won the Patriot League title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament with the upset.

Oh Georgetown. Ohhhhh, Georgetown. Georgetown lost to DePaul for the first time since before I was born on the back of 17 points by Big East Rookie of the Year Billy Garrett, Jr. See you in the NIT, boys.

The Terrible Terriers of Wofford (our old pals from football season) will be making a trip to the Big 12 Tournament after winning the Southern Conference. In an interview that gets difficult to listen to near the end, Wofford senior Aerris Smith announces that after helping his team make the tournament, he will be having career-ending surgery. Wofford defeated Western Carolina to earn the bid.