No. 16 Baylor (24-9) vs. Georgia State (24-9)
|GameTracker | Listen Online | Tickets | Baylor Notes | GSU Notes|
Friends, Romans, countrybears,
Welcome to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. Last year the Baylor Bears reached the Sweet Sixteen. Can they reach those same heights? Can they surpass those achievements?
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Georgia State, mid-major though they be, boasts some high level talent. Check out their roster:
|Jalen Brown||JR||F||6-8||1.8 Pts, 1.5 Reb, 0.2 Ast|
|Carter Cagle||FR||G||6-3||0.3 Pts, 0.1 Reb, 0.0 Ast|
|Markus Crider||JR||F||6-6||9.7 Pts, 6.7 Reb, 1.8 Ast|
|Isaiah Dennis||SO||G||6-0||2.6 Pts, 1.3 Reb, 0.7 Ast|
|Ryann Green||SR||G||6-1||3.4 Pts, 1.9 Reb, 1.4 Ast|
|Ryan Harrow||SR||G||6-2||18.7 Pts, 2.1 Reb, 3.7 Ast|
|R.J. Hunter||JR||G||6-6||19.8 Pts, 4.8 Reb, 3.6 Ast|
|Michael Pickney||FR||G||6-0||0.0 Pts, 1.0 Reb, 0.0 Ast|
|Jordan Session||FR||F||6-7||2.2 Pts, 1.2 Reb, 0.2 Ast|
|T.J. Shipes||JR||F||6-7||4.6 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 0.2 Ast|
|Corey Tobin||FR||G||6-4||0.0 Pts, 0.4 Reb, 0.0 Ast|
|David Travers||FR||G||6-0||2.0 Pts, 0.5 Reb, 0.3 Ast|
|Kevin Ware||JR||G||6-2||7.7 Pts, 3.2 Reb, 2.4 Ast|
|Curtis Washington||SR||F||6-10||5.1 Pts, 4.2 Reb, 0.2 Ast|
R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow stand out immediately. Hunter is the son of Georgia State's coach, Ron Hunter. He's being projected as a first round draft pick in the NBA this summer, and with good reason. He's long, athletic, and can score the ball. He takes 30% of his team's shot attempts, per KenPom, and half of those attempts come from the three-point line, per Hoop-Math. Dude's a gunner. On the season he's only shooting 29.4% from deep this season, but he's streaky. Hunter has made 7 three-pointers in a game already this season, when he dropped 32 points on UT-Arlington. Less than 17% of his shots come at the rim. The zone should help keep that percentage low, and as long as the Bears contest his jump shot, that's the best defense they can offer.
His backcourt mate, Harrow, is a bit more threatening from the outside. Harrow picks his spots a bit more than Hunter (Harrow's taken 102 three-pointers to Hunter's 238), but he's hit 38.2% of his long bombs. Like Hunter, Harrow is a high-usage player, having taken 33.9% of the Panthers' shot attempts. He likes to snake his way to the rim, where he's shooting 42.8% of his shots and making 62.3% of them.
Harrow, as of yesterday, was still listed at questionable to play with a hamstring injury. If he does play, between him and Hunter, Baylor's defense will have its hands full.
I would say Georgia State's roster reminds me of Oklahoma State's in a superficial sort of way (two big-time scorers at the guard and forward positions, scrubby but plucky roster around them), but Hunter doesn't seem to be the zone buster that Le'Bryan Nash is. Hunter is a better player, but he rarely goes inside the way Nash does.
While its leading scorers are perimeter oriented, Georgia State as a whole tends to do their damage inside. Almost 60% of the Panthers' shots are 2-point attempts, and they make 53.9 percent of them, which is the 19th highest rate in the country, per KenPom.
Here's the good news for Baylor: Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince, and Royce O'Neale should be able to feast on the offensive glass. On the season Georgia State has allowed opponents to rebound at a rate of 34.5% on offense, ranking 321st in the country.
Georgia State has yet to beat a Power 5 team since Ron Hunter became the head coach in 2011, and they were trounced by Iowa State 81-58 at the start of the year.
Baylor is somewhere around a -8.5 point favorite. KenPom predicts a 7 point victory for the Bears, with a 77% chance of victory. If Harrow is limited, I expect Baylor to do a decent job limiting Hunter and forcing him into tough looks. Baylor has done on excellent job the last two seasons of shutting down the opposing team's best player (you might remember Doug McDermott got shut down by the Bears in the Round of 32 last year), and I expect Drew to have a pretty good game plan with all the time he's had to prepare. Baylor has struggled to score from deep the last three games, but they've been a good shooting team all season, so I expect that to course correct a bit. Georgia State 62 - Baylor 73.
Join in the comments, and let's cheer on our Bears!