Six weeks ago I sat down and wrote an obituary for this basketball season in the DBR. Today I would like to apologize for that statement. After an unbelievable turnaround, Baylor is headed to the Sweet Sixteen in Anaheim as arguably the hottest basketball team in the country.
Live from San Antonio
Matthew and I went to the game together, along with my roommate, so I'm writing this late at night and I may come off as completely incoherent. I'll try to offer as accurate an account as I can of our experience.
The crowd in San Antonio was excellent. Iowa State and North Carolina showed out early, and Baylor and Creighton delegations flowed in during the ISU-UNC game. The crowds were split into nearly even quarters, and brought comparable amounts of noise. The loudest moments of the night came when Iowa State's victory was assured, and when Corey Jefferson slammed home an alley-oop from Isaiah Austin in a symbolic dagger to end any hope of a Creighton comeback in a game that had been decided before halftime.
The dynamic created by having four devoted fan bases in one room is fascinating. During the second half of the ISU-UNC game, the crowd began to lean heavily in favor of the Cyclones. Baylor fans, Creighton fans, and Iowa State fans alike were on their feet and chanting along with the ISU pep band. The size of the crowd was diminished for the second game, but many of the Cyclone faithful stuck around to make noise for Baylor. At one point, Iowa State players came out and stood in the Iowa State section and got their crowd pumped up for the Baylor game. Conference loyalty is a beautiful thing sometimes.
The game itself was nuts. Baylor fans were spread out across the arena, with large clusters on the media side of the court that generated a lot of noise throughout the game. It was a very good showing, and I hope we can repeat it in the future.
Matthew and I had seats on the front row of the nosebleed section, and most of Baylor's student delegation was one section to our left. After the game, most of our players rushed to the edge of the court and saluted us- I take this as a sign that we made a noticeable amount of noise.
I'm pleased to say that the entire crowd was extremely respectful. Fans of opposing teams were polite and friendly as far as I could tell, and the Baylor and ISU groups were particularly cozy. The entire evening was a delight, and I wish all of you could have been there to partake in the revelry.
Oh, by the way, here's the postgame thread from last night if you haven't already consumed all the available information about the game.
Also, in one of the stranger celebrations I've ever seen, the entire team mobbed Scott Drew's postgame interview and (with Drew's encouragement) decided to mess up Craig Sager's hair. There's also a brief Q&A with Isaiah Austin, who has become a clear moral leader for this team in the postseason.
I also have to give major props to Doug McDermott. The young man is a baller and it was tough to see the look on his face when he realized how little he could do to salvage the game. Everything about Creighton's game, fans, and team made me respect the Blue Jays, and I wish them success in their future endeavors, provided they don't get in Baylor's way.
We always say, "Baylor Gang or Die." Last night Creighton had to die. On to the next one.
The Sweet Sixteen bracket is set. I've been unable to find a good, portable bracket thus far so I'll manually list the eight games below.
Wisconsin (2) vs Baylor (6). Baylor might be the hottest team in the country, and Wisconsin is coming off a win versus a very solid Oregon team. I've read a few Wisconsin boards that seem to think Baylor resembles a taller, longer Oregon that poses a greater threat from beyond the arc. When Baylor's bigs play well, they present a matchup nightmare for any team.
Arizona (1) vs San Diego State (4). Arizona has played scrappy, opportunistic basketball, running away with games by taking advantage of steals and opponent mistakes. If they can get through San Diego State, a dangerous team in its own right, then they will be confronted with either Baylor or Wisconsin, both of whom possess extremely efficient offenses.
Virginia (1) vs Michigan State (4). OoooOOOOooohhh. Michigan State represents the biggest possible pitfall so far for the Cavaliers so far, and the Spartans are fully healthy and playing great basketball. I won't claim to have seen much of either team, but Sparty is a bracket darling. Expect a good time.
Iowa State (3) vs UConn (7). UConn is fresh off an upset of Villanova, but Iowa State is riding a freight train of momentum after their Big 12 championship, and found a way to win with minimal preparation after the loss of Georges Niang. The Cyclones lack interior presence without Niang, choosing to rely on smaller players after Daniel Edozie proved less than effective against North Carolina. Fred Hoiberg has a wealth of outside talent and a week to prepare. Let's see what kind of plan the Mayor hatches.
Louisville (4) vs Kentucky (8). The Wildcats finally lived up to their preseason hype and knocked off No. 1 Wichita State in an instant classic that said more about Kentucky than the Shockers. Louisville is considered criminally underseeded and can destroy any team at any moment. Who will rule the Bluegrass State once and for all?
Michigan (2) vs Tennessee (11). This one tugs at my heartstrings. As a former resident of Knoxville, I know that the Vols really need something good in their lives. Tennessee has turned from play-in afterthought to possible contender, but an extremely imposing Michigan stands between them and the Elite Eight. The Vols are dangerous, and have adopted a very Dunk-City-esque identity at times in a season that had Coach Cuonzo Martin on the hot seat more than once.
Florida (1) vs UCLA (4). UCLA finally vanquished the SFA Lumberjacks to win a date with the first overall seed in the tournament. Florida was practically invincible in the SEC this year, and the oft-overlooked Bruins will be their most highly-regarded challenger after wins over Pitt and a very salty Albany.
Stanford (10) vs Dayton (11). Not many people could have called this one. Much like Kentucky, I'm loathe to call Stanford a Cinderella since they have an established and respected basketball program. In my mind, they fit nicely into the "dark horse" category. Dayton is pure Cinderella after stunning Ohio State and Syracuse back to back. I want Dayton in the Final Four.
It's not MBB, but you better pay attention:
The Lady Bears take on Cal in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament TONIGHT at 8:15 p.m. in the Ferrell Center. Get your butt in a seat and help Kim Mulkey and the gals on their way to another national championship. I know we're caught up in the euphoria of bashing Creighton last night, but the Lady Bears deserve our support just as much as the men and put on just as fun of a show (albeit with more ninja layups and fewer dunks).
Baseball Misses on Sweep, Falls 4-1 to No. 20 Oklahoma State - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
On a long Sunday at Baylor Ballpark, No. 20 Oklahoma State prevailed over Baylor in a 4-1 decision that featured two significant rain delays.
#nowplaying Jump Around to an empty Baylor Ballpark as the team pulls the tarp off the field for the second time.
— Josie Drago (@msjosiedrago) March 23, 2014
Losing a seven hour baseball game is no fun, but at least the Bears secured the series win over Oklahoma State. The team is a bit up-and-down, but has looked great in conference play.
Rain Postpones Baylor vs. Texas Softball Matchup - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
WACO, Texas - No. 12 Baylor (23-5) and Texas (19-15) postponed its Big 12 matchup Sunday and the game will be made up at a date to be determined.
Probably a good deal for the softball team, since most of Baylor Nation was preoccupied with sudden death basketball.
Men's Golf Heads to Lone Star Invitational - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
The Baylor men's golf team is headed to San Antonio, Texas, for the Lone Star Invitational hosted by UTSA. The 54-hole event runs Monday and Tuesday at the Briggs Ranch Golf Club.
Women's Tennis Blanks Iowa State, 7-0 - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com
The 14th-ranked Baylor women's tennis team earned a 7-0 victory against Iowa State on Sunday at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.