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Baylor Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Sic ‘Em!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Baylor vs Gonzaga Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor basketball released the non-conference schedule today. Here it is:

All the numbers in parenthesis are from the Torvik Rankings.

Baylor will be heavily favored against Central Arkansas (294), Texas State (157), Ohio (255), Maryland Eastern Shore (330), Tennessee Martin (237) and Jackson State (266). The Bears—barring something unexpected—should win all those games.

The Bears will need to be accurate from three against Washington (59). The Huskies—led by former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins—play a 2-3 zone. Baylor destroyed Syracuse’s 2-3 zone by raining triples. If the Bears are a solid 3-point shooting team that day, they’ll beat Washington. But the Bears didn’t have the best shooting time in Italy, and they could Kegler-Vital-Clark, which will sacrifice some 3-point shooting. I like the Bears in this one, but an early game in Alaska against a 2-3 zone could be a problem.

Utah (162) and Coastal Carolina (175) will have a tough time against Baylor. If the Bears win against either team, then they’ll play either Villanova (21), Mississippi State (63), Tulane (236) or Middle Tennessee (156). My sense is that Villanova is a bit overrated. They have another McDonald’s All-American heading to campus, but Phil Booth and Eric Paschall will be difficult to replace. I think the Bears win this tournament.

Arizona (28) heads to Waco after losing to Baylor in Tuscon last year. The Wildcats should be a lot better than last season, but they’re still probably a tier below the Bears. Arizona also needs a big season to keep Sean Miller around. Once again, I’m taking Baylor.

Scott Drew’s Alma matter, Butler (61), will be in Waco too. This will be a competent team that should hang around the bubble all season. But Torvik gives Butler just a 19% chance to win. Baylor should win this one too.

There’s a decent chance Baylor will lose one of the games I’ve gone through. It’s hard to win 11 games, even as a heavy favorite. I’m taking Baylor to win those 11, but if the Bears go 11-0 through that stretch, they’ll put themselves in a good spot to land a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Florida (1) game is the toughest non-Allen Fieldhouse game on Baylor’s schedule. Kerry Blackshear was a monster for Virginia Tech and is now in Gainesville. The Gators will probably be picked to win the SEC, and winning on the road is difficult. I have Baylor winning the Big 12, but everyone outside of Kentucky 2015 tends to lose road games against top five teams.

The Bears have a quality schedule that sets themselves up for their lofty expectations. Perhaps most impressively, Baylor is playing six games away from Waco. Baylor’s schedule should have them ready for the Big 12, which will likely be the top KenPom conference again.