Big 12 Men’s Basketball Elite Eight Preview
#1 Baylor vs. #3 Arkansas
Monday, March 29th 8:57 PM CT, CBS
1 seed Baylor (25-2) is still the sole representative left in the Men’s NCAA Tournament after winning a gritty, defensive matchup with 5 seed Villanova. The Bears had one of their worst three-point shooting performances in recent memory, going 3 of 19 from deep and were still able to win by 11 points thanks to incredibly overwhelming ball pressure, leading to 16 Villanova turnovers. The fact that Villanova only scored 21 points in the second half was huge for the Bears. Now, they turn their attention to 3 seed Arkansas (25-6). The Razorbacks have truly embodied the “survive and advance” mentality, as their last two games were both decided by only two points. Even their opening game against 14 seed Colgate was in question for a while. The Razorbacks are a pretty strong offensive team, averaging 81.7 points per game. However, on the season, Baylor scores both more points (83 ppg) and holds their opponents to less points (Arkansas allows 68 points on average, Baylor allows 56.3 points on average). Most teams have struggled against Baylor’s defense this year and I don’t think this game will be much different. The Razorbacks had issues with Texas Tech’s defense, and Baylor has a stronger defense and offense than the Red Raiders. The Bears are favored by 7.5 points. If Baylor gets even marginally closer to their season three point shooting average in this game, the Bears cover that spread. Even if they don’t, Baylor showed that it can win in other ways.
Big 12 Women’s Basketball Elite Eight Preview
#2 Baylor vs. #1 UConn
Monday, March 29th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN
Talk about a heavyweight women’s basketball matchup with the victor heading to the Final Four. 2 seed Baylor (28-2) had to fight and claw their way to an overtime victory over 6 seed Michigan to reach the Elite Eight. 1 seed UConn (27-1) cleared its way to the Elite Eight with ease, winning by no less than 20 points over 16 seed High Point, 8 seed Syracuse, and 5 seed Iowa. This will certainly be a challenging matchup for Kim Mulkey and company as the Huskies’ lone loss came all the way back in late January. Of course the counterpoint is that Baylor’s last loss was even longer ago. This will ultimately be a battle of differing styles. Baylor makes a name for itself with offensive rebounding, averaging 15.8 offensive boards per game which is fourth in the nation. UConn, on the other hand, attacks from outside, averaging 6.6 three-pointers per game. I expect Baylor’s rebounding prowess to be the deciding factor in this game. UConn is favored by 3.5 points.
#6 Texas vs. #1 South Carolina
Tuesday, March 30th ESPN
6 seed Texas (21-9) secured a tight victory over 2 seed Maryland on Sunday night to advance to the Elite Eight. The Longhorns have stayed alive in the tournament with wins over 11 seed Bradley, 3 seed UCLA, and 2 seed Maryland. They now face their stiffest competition in 1 seed South Carolina (25-4). The Gamecocks have won all of their tournament games by double digits, defeating 16 seed Mercer, 8 seed Oregon State, and 5 seed Georgia Tech. Their most recent loss came to Texas A&M in late February. The Texas women have had a very solid tournament showing, but a 1 seed is likely a bit too tall of a task for the Longhorns.
81-74 South Carolina