Fresh off their domination of Creighton, the Bears are tasked with taking down the Badgers of Wisconsin in a matchup of two of the nation's hottest teams. Most projections have this one going down to the wire, so buckle up, pour yourself a Dr Pepper (or some mixed variant thereof) and get ready for a thriller.
Sixteen teams play today and tomorrow, but only eight will advance. It's March Madness, and anyone can die. Take a look at Dayton, the 11 seed that took down Ohio State and Syracuse and now looks to tackle Stanford. Look at Tennessee, who barely eked its way into the play-in round but took advantage of favorable matchups to get this far. Take Baylor, a team that was left for dead in the Big 12 with injury problems and an identity crisis, only to come on strong and route the best shooting team in the country in a way that hasn't been seen in over a decade. There are four great games to watch today.
Florida (1) vs UCLA (4)
After letting Albany hang around for a bit too long, Florida woke up and has been back in unstoppable form. UCLA is a good team that made hay of the PAC 12 at times, but Florida is strong all over and seems to be the definite favorite. The Gators are backed by the stats, the geography, and the media. Of course, that makes them prime candidates for an upset by the Bruins.
Stanford (10) vs Dayton (11)
There's a difference between Dayton and Stanford. Stanford is an established basketball program that is used to playing in the postseason and doing so with success. Stanford is a dark horse. Dayton is a true Cinderella story. They came out of nowhere, and only teams that had played them knew how dangerous they were. After leaving behind the mangled remains of Ohio State and Syracuse (the latter having been considered a title contender for most of the regular season) in their wake, the Flyers are ready to prove themselves once and for all and win a date with either Florida or UCLA in the Elite Eight. Stanford is no pushover though, and the pairing portends a good game.
Arizona (1) vs San Diego State (4)
Arizona was always the frontrunner in the West. They're a matchup nightmare for everyone, and are deserving of their top seed. San Diego State will definitely mount a challenge, but the Wildcats are a 6-point favorite over the Aztecs and Arizona has covered the spread in 7 of their last 8 NCAA Tournament games. The winner of Baylor-Wisconsin will have a mountain to climb- either Arizona, or the team that conquered them.
Wisconsin (2) vs Baylor (6)
No. I'm not going to write another paragraph about this game and pretend that I have anything left to add to the conversation. If you haven't exhausted the internet's well of information on this game, then drink up before tipoff with Ted's statistical comparison, Bucky's 5th Quarter's Q&A, or a Google search. Also, take the day to remind yourself that anything can happen, and while I believe that we will win, it may very well be the last time we see Cory Jefferson, Gary Franklin, Brady Heslip, and possibly Isaiah Austin in Baylor uniforms. These are fine young men and great ambassadors for the university. We can't appreciate them enough.
Congrats to Coach Mulkey on being named WBCA Region 5 Coach of the Year. http://t.co/6iAo3TozmO— Baylor Lady Bears (@BaylorWBB) March 26, 2014
The Lady Bears play Kentucky at 11 a.m. on Saturday in South Bend, Indiana. The game is a rematch of an early-season brawl that ended after four overtimes with both teams in foul trouble to the point of considering playing a man down. The Lady Bears have really found their groove since then, and Odyssey Sims and Nina Davis are both putting up points at an otherworldly clip. We'll see how this goes.
Other Happenings in Baylor Nation
Baseball Plays First Big 12 Road Series at WVU This Weekend - No. 29 Baylor baseball takes its first Big 12 road trip of the season this weekend to face West Virginia in Charleston, W. Va., at Appalachian Power Park. We've sucked away from home this year, and it's time to turn that around.
Men's Tennis Picked Second In Big 12 Preseason Poll - With the start of the Big 12 season 10 days away, the league's head coaches have selected the Baylor men's tennis team to finish second in the regular-season standings, the Big 12 office announced on Wednesday.
Women's Tennis Welcomes St. Edward's, No. 38 Memphis - The 16th-ranked Baylor women's tennis team will host a doubleheader on Thursday at the Hurd Tennis Center at 10 a.m. against St. Edward's and at 5 p.m. against No. 38 Memphis.
SB to Make Up Game with Texas May 6 - The second game of the Big 12 softball series between Baylor and Texas will be made up at BU's Getterman Stadium May 6 at 6 p.m.
EQ Lands Eight on NCEA All-America Teams - The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) selected its 2013-14 All-America teams Tuesday and Baylor earned eight all-America awards between the four disciplines.
Vildosola Headlines First Day At Texas Relays - Two heptathletes and two decathletes kicked off the Baylor track and field team's participation in the 87th-annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Wednesday at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
You can't even make this stuff up.
Also, there have been rumblings of a new home for Baylor Basketball. Yesterday, an article by CBS's Dennis Dodds on Scott Drew (a great feature in and of itself) said that "Ian McCaw says the next order of business is getting a new basketball arena." I'm not sure what this means, given the lack of context, but there was an immediate rumble in the twitterverse at the idea of a new arena to complement the new football stadium and track facility. It could just as easily mean a complete retrofit of the Ferrell Center, but Scott Drew's now-undeniable revival of Baylor's basketball program is worthy of whatever McCaw and the regents have in mind and then some.