Before I begin, here is the complete bracket for your reference:
I'm still formulating my thoughts a bit, so here are my bullet point reactions:
- What stands out first is how many teams in this region Baylor has already faced this season: Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. The way the bracket shook out, though, the Bears can have no more than two rematches.
- Yale is no pushover. The Bulldogs rank 38 in KenPom with the 92nd offense and 21st defense by adjusted efficiency. Yale is the 7th best in the country in both offensive and defense rebounding percentage. The battle of the boards will be huge. Yale's weaknesses are at the free throw line (66.7% as a team) and in turnover rate (20.1%). The Bulldogs actually allow a steal on 1 of every 10 possessions, so Baylor should have opportunity to push the ball for transition points.
- For the second year in a row, Baylor will be playing what is essentially a road game as the high seed. Last season, Baylor faced Georgia State in Athens. This year,
Providence is 102 miles from Yale's campus and 1,822 miles from Baylor's campus.— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) March 13, 2016
Good thing the Baylor players like road games, huh?
- Sweet, sweet vengeance could finally be Baylor's to have. If the Bears can get past Yale, it is more than likely that they will face 4 seed Duke. Back in 2010, the Blue Devils beat Baylor in the Elite Eight (thanks in part to a dubious charge call against Baylor legend Quincy Acy) before going on to win the championship. Baylor's depth could be key in this year's matchup. Duke is no more than six or seven deep, so any foul trouble at all could be difficult for Duke to overcome. Then again, the Tournament is about playing your best players lots of minutes, and Duke has two very good players in Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram, who is in the discussion for the first overall pick in this year's NBA draft. I made my feelings on this potential game known on Twitter:
If Baylor can beat Duke and Grayson Allen, I’ll never ask for anything more of Scott Drew.— Michael Nichols (@pckt_chng) March 13, 2016
- Oregon is a bit of a weak 1 seed. Baylor made a roaring comeback in a very late game against the Ducks before ultimately falling by 7. I haven't seen much of the Ducks since, but I like Baylor's chances if they meet in the Sweet Sixteen.
- Elsewhere in the region, Texas A&M and Oklahoma loom large. A&M and Oklahoma have both blitzed Baylor, and I would probably pick both of those teams over Oregon. The Sooners and Buddy Hield are probably this region's best shot at producing a champion, although no one should be surprised if Texas A&M reaches the Final Four.
- The potential Texas A&M-Texas matchup in the Round of 32 is top line trolling by the Committee.
- Other notable teams: Oregon State and Gary Peyton Jr. gave Kansas all they could handle for a half in the non-conference; Northern Iowa upset Iowa State by 2 back in December and upset now 1 seed North Carolina in November; Cincinnati suffered a 4OT loss to UConn in the AAC Tournament, and don't be surprised if the Bearcats can give Oregon a scare.
- The West is a very strong region 1-5. It's tough to see Baylor making a deep run, especially given tough early games against Yale and possibly Duke. If the Bears can make it through the first weekend, however, I like their chances at reaching the Elite Eight for the 3rd time in 7 seasons under Scott Drew.
Share your thoughts on Baylor's region in the comments!