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Previewing the 2015-16 Baylor Basketball Season

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Baylor Basketball Tips Off Tonight. Let's Discuss!

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Through all of the excitement and #turnt that the football team is currently providing us, you may have lost track of the fact that...oh hey we have a basketball team and they're pretty good too! The season kicks off tonight at 8:30 the Ferrell Center in a doubleheader with the Lady Bears who play at 6. Baylor opens the season ranked 22nd in the AP Poll, the 9th consecutive season that Baylor has been ranked for at least one week. For a little perspective, Baylor had not been ranked in basketball since 1969 prior to Scott Drew's arrival. The man can coach up some shootyhoopers. But how does this team stack up in what appears to be another run through the meat grinder that is the double round robin Big 12 schedule? Let's run through what I foresee for this group.

Non-Conference

Predicted Record: 11-2

As has become the norm, Scott Drew has laid out some good challenges for this Baylor team that gives us the opportunity to pick up some quality wins out of conference, something that always looks nice when the selection committee goes to work in March (I know I know...selection committees make us all want to vomit right about now). But this year's schedule jumps right into the fray starting with SFA tonight. The Lumberjacks are two-time defending champions in the Southland Conference and bring back several key players from a team that went 29-5 and nearly knocked off Utah in the NCAA Tournament. From there, the Bears travel to Oregon Monday night as part of ESPN's 24 hour college basketball tip-off. So we will get to know quite a bit about this Baylor team really quickly. I think Baylor will need to lean on it's known strengths early in the season, a versatile and active frontcourt, to get through the early portion of the non-con slate as Lester Medford settles into the lead point guard role and the guard rotation takes shape. Taurean Prince is poised to be one of the best players in the Big 12 and Rico Gathers will continue to be a manimal on the glass. After the first 2 games, the schedule lightens up a bit until Baylor hosts #18 Vanderbilt on December 6, a team Baylor beat in Nashville last season. I would expect that the most hyped game though will be the Bears' first trip to College Station since the Aggies left the Big 12 in 2012. Baylor also has a non-conference game in the middle of Big 12 play as Georgia comes to Waco as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Overall, I think the Bears may drop a couple of games as some of the newcomers like King McClure get accustomed to basketball at the D1 level but will pick up some nice RPI boosting wins along the way as well.

Date Opponent / Event Location Time
11/13/15 vs. Stephen F. Austin TV Waco, Texas 8:30 p.m. CT
11/16/15 at Oregon TV Eugene, Ore. 10:30 p.m. CT
11/20/15 vs. Jackson State TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
11/23/15 vs. Savannah State TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
11/27/15 vs. Arkansas State TV Waco, Texas 12:00 p.m. CT
12/02/15 vs. Prairie View A&M TV Waco, Texas 8:30 p.m. CT
12/06/15 vs. Vanderbilt TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
12/08/15 vs. Northwestern State TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
12/16/15 vs. Hardin-Simmons TV Fort Hood, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
12/19/15 at Texas A&M TV College Station, Texas 8:00 p.m. CT
12/23/15 vs. New Mexico State TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
12/29/15 vs. Texas Southern TV Waco, Texas 4:00 p.m. CT
01/30/16 vs. Georgia TV Waco, Texas 5:00 p.m. CT

Big 12

Predicted Record: 10-8

And then the fun begins. The Big 12 has been the deepest conference in college basketball the last few years and 2016 should be no different. Baylor gets a harrowing start to conference play as they have to travel to Allen Fieldhouse and Hilton Coliseum in the first week of the Big 12 slate. Baylor's win in Ames last year was the only time that any opponent won in either of those buildings last season, so the task will be mighty. At this point in the year, I think you'll see Baylor lean on a guard rotation of Lester Medford, King McClure, Al Freeman and Ish Wainright with Austin Mills and Jake Lindsey waiting in the wings for playing time. But the bulk of Baylor's scoring is going to need to come from guys like Taurean Prince, Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley, who I expect to have a bit of a breakout season after showing flashes early on in 2015. Another big key that could affect Baylor's outlook will be the health of Jo Acuil, a 7 footer who has been sidelined with a potential heart condition. We may not see him until conference play if he is able to continue playing at all. The Bears have the length on the perimeter to make the patented Scott Drew zone difficult to penetrate but having a shot blocker like Acuil under the basket would make life even more frustrating for opponents. As mentioned earlier, the Big 12 should be especially tough again this year as Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State all open the season in the top 10. I expect West Virginia and Texas to be players as well, and don't be surprised if Texas Tech makes a bit of a forward jump this season under Tubby Smith. It will be critical for Baylor to protect its home court and win games in the Ferrell Center because winning on the road in the Big 12 is never easy.

Date Opponent / Event Location Time
01/02/16 at Kansas * TV Lawrence, Kan. 3:00 p.m. CT
01/05/16 vs. Oklahoma State * TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
01/09/16 at Iowa State * TV Ames, Iowa 2:00 p.m. CT
01/13/16 vs. TCU * TV Waco, Texas 7:15 p.m. CT
01/16/16 at Texas Tech * TV Lubbock, Texas 2:00 p.m. CT
01/20/16 vs. Kansas State * TV Waco, Texas 7:15 p.m. CT
01/23/16 vs. Oklahoma * TV Waco, Texas 11:00 a.m. CT
01/27/16 at Oklahoma State * TV Stillwater, Okla. 8:00 p.m. CT
02/01/16 vs. Texas * TV Waco, Texas 8:00 p.m. CT
02/06/16 at West Virginia * TV Morgantown, W.Va. 7:00 p.m. CT
02/10/16 at Kansas State * TV Manhattan, Kan. 7:15 p.m. CT
02/13/16 vs. Texas Tech * TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
02/16/16 vs. Iowa State * TV Waco, Texas 8:00 p.m. CT
02/20/16 at Texas * TV Austin, Texas 1:00 p.m. CT
02/23/16 vs. Kansas * TV Waco, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
02/27/16 at TCU * TV Fort Worth, Texas 7:00 p.m. CT
03/01/16 at Oklahoma * TV Norman, Okla. 7:00 p.m. CT
03/05/16 vs. West Virginia * TV Waco, Texas TBA
2016 Big 12 Championship
03/09/16 First Round TV Kansas City, Mo. TBA
03/10/16 Quarterfinals TV Kansas City, Mo. TBA
03/11/16 Semifinals TV Kansas City, Mo. TBA
03/12/16 Finals TV Kansas City, Mo. TBA

Postseason Prediction

Overall Record: 24-12, 5th in Big 12

NCAA Tournament: 7 seed, Advance to Round of 32