Many Baylor fans are ducking their heads to avoid reading this as last year, we had to deal with the College of Charleston - and losing to them. It was ugly.
However, this is not the same team and though it on the surface it may seem like an automatic W, I can assure you that this is a game that is going to positively impact our RPI in March should we win. Also, little known fact here about Charleston Southern - they began as a Baptist College, so we have that in common.
Team: Charleston Southern Buccaneers
Date/Time: 11-20/6:00 pm
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas
Coach: Barclay Radebaugh (yes, that is his real name)
Number of returning starters: 4
Key losses: Mathiang Muo, Jeremy Sexton
Key returnees: Saah Nimley, Paul Gombwer, Arlon Harper
Barclay Radebaugh enters his 9th year as head coach of the Buccaneers, returning 4 starters and 4 of 6 major contributors. Last year's team won the Big South regular season, but lost in the finals of the Big South tournament. So instead of an NCAA tournament bid, they landed an 8 seed in the NIT and lost in the first round to 1 seed Southern Mississippi. Overall they went 19-13 and 12-4 in conference play.
As far as their returners go, as poorly as they match up against the Bears in the paint, we likely won't have an answer this early in the season for arguably one of the most formidable backcourts in all of college basketball. I'm not even joking. Saah Nimley and Arlong Harper both return, and while Nimley (at 5'8" with a streaky jumpshot) will have you believing for a second that Pierre Jackson is still playing in America, Harper will be finding yet another crease to the bucket. Expect both of them to push the floor, but don't expect either one to sit down for very long. Combined Nimley and Harper accounted for 32 points and 10 rebounds a game last season and don't be surprised if those numbers go up this year.
Coach Radebaugh believes this is his strongest team yet, and the roster/numbers seem to back that up. However, I think it is going to be difficult for the Buccaneers to topple this Baylor team. I expect Baylor to win comfortably, but won't ever be able to put Charleston Southern away. Don't be surprised to see us switch to a smaller lineup a time or two during this game. I wouldn't be shocked to see a Chery, Heslip, Wainwright, Prince, Gathers grouping at some point this season, so it might as well be in a game that even though that is a smaller line-up, it still would out-size the opponent.
"We've won 19 games for back-to-back seasons. I think we've been good. But how do you become great? It comes down to physical and mental toughness. It's not related to size … That's the next step for us." - Radebaugh
Prediction: Baylor 80 Charleston Southern 74
TL;DR version: You're going to freak out when Saah Nimly, Arlong Harper or both can't miss for streaks during the game, but your Bears are too talented. Comfortable, but not dominant, win.
As always be sure to write your predictions below for a chance to win a prize, like so:
Subject: Baylor 80 Lousiana-Lafayette 74
Body: My commentary about your commentary is absolutely commentary.